CHADRON – Kent Meyers read selected excerpts from his book “Twisted Tree” to a crowd of more than 50 people in the Chicoine Atrium at Chadron State College April 7.
The audience included CSC students, faculty and staff, as well as Chadron community members. The event was the first installment of the Distinguished Visitor Writing Series, which is intended to bring in writers of national renown to experience Chadron culture and to perform a public reading.
Meyers is a professor at Black Hills State University and works with the writing workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
He is a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) fellowship and has published essays and short-fiction works, as well as five books.
“Twisted Tree” is set in small-town South Dakota and unfolds the story of Hayley Jo Zimmerman, a young woman who disappeared through mysterious means. The book is comprised of 16 individual stories that attempt to patch Haley Jo’s story together, through unique accounts from characters like a supermarket clerk, a caregiver and a town poacher.
Meyers’ told the audience “Twisted Tree” deals with the importance of constant wonder and understanding loss.
“We should always wonder to know more and understand what it is like to lose,” Meyers said.
Meyers’ read the chapter titled “Looking Out.” The chapter revolved around the unmarked grave of a young girl named Cassie. The narrator, Audrey, discusses with her mother the events revolving around this girl’s life, death and burial, which Audrey’s father happened to be heavily involved with.
Then, Meyers read pieces from “Wanderings,” which records the accounts of the town poacher, a vastly intelligent and observant person who is oblivious to the importance of his own information.
“Twisted Tree” is Meyers’ fifth book and won both the Society of Midland Authors and the High Plains Book Awards for adult fiction. He acknowledged “Twisted Tree” was difficult to write, but regarded it as worth the work.
“You have to set artistic challenges. It forces you into difficulty, then you work those difficulties out,” Meyers said. “I really believe ‘Twisted Tree’ is my best work. It was challenging to write, but it tells a great story.”
—Conor P. Casey, Graduate Assistant