Mackey Chairs past and present meet at reading

Accomplished novelist and former Mackey Chair Bonnie Jo Campbell returned to campus for an insightful Q&A and reading with students, and met this year’s chair, Kimberly Blaeser.

Students attend a reading from 2022 Mackey Chair &lt... Students attend a reading from 2022 Mackey Chair Bonnie Jo Campbell, emceed by Professor of English Chris Fink.

Beloiters saw double at a March English department event. This year’s Lois and Willard Mackey Chair in Creative Writing, Kimberly Blaeser, met 2022’s Mackey Chair Bonnie Jo Campbell in the World Affairs Center at a reading of Campbell’s new bestseller, The Waters. Blaeser is an Anishishinaabe poet, UW-Milwaukee creative writing professor, and In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations Poets) founder.

Blaeser and two other Indigenous Nations poets, Kalehua Kim and Halee Kirkwood, will deliver this year’s Mackey Keynote poetry reading on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m.

Campbell also signed books and took questions from the audience about her writing process, the book’s popularity with famous book clubs (see her interview on The Today Show), and her sources of inspiration.

Current Mackey Chair Current Mackey Chair Kimberly Blaeser (with her new book of poetry, Ancient Light), Professor of English Chris Fink, and past Mackey Chair Bonnie Jo Campbell (with her new novel, The Waters).

The Waters is based on a fictional swampy island in rural Michigan and features a female protagonist, nicknamed Donkey, and her relationships with the community and her matriarchal family. “The ‘hero’s journey’ doesn’t really work for women,” Campbell says, comparing her book to the heroic stories about boys, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “I got interested in stories about people who stay home, and they tend to be about women.”

Campbell has written two other acclaimed novels, national bestseller Once Upon a River and Q Road. She has also published books of short fiction, including Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, Women and Other Animals, and American Salvage, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

March 26, 2024

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