Kathleen Norris Tour Draws Crowds

Kathleen Norris Entertains Readers Around the State

An East Coast transplant with a fancy writing career and an eye for the abstract may feel like a stranger in a tiny farming-based community.

But Kathleen Norris’ dissonance to her surroundings in the northwestern South Dakota town of Lemmon played a crucial role in helping her write the bestselling book, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography.

“It was nice to get away from New York,” the well-known author told a crowd of Midwesterners who packed into the Watertown Regional Library to hear Norris discuss her inspiration for Dakota and the 20 years she spent in Lemmon.

Norris, chosen as the 2014 One Book North and South Dakota author by both states’ humanities councils, traveled across the Dakotas in late June to discuss Dakota. She will also appear at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books Sept. 26-28 in Sioux Falls.

kathleen norris

Norris told the crowd during her June 20 stop in Watertown that Lemmon provided a change of pace from New York, a metropolis filled with writers scrambling to attach their names to the next Great American Novel.

When Norris and her late husband David Dwyer moved to the tiny town, which is surrounded by sprawling ranches and farms, the couple didn’t stumble across many other aspiring writers.
Norris said local residents didn’t seem very taken with her “hobby.”

“One man said, ‘I have a hobby too – I collect stamps,” she said with a chuckle.

But Norris found peace in Lemmon – and inspiration. Dakota has received critical acclaim across the nation – it was called “a powerful evocation of an experience notoriously difficult to put into words” by The New Yorker – and the book is currently being read by discussion groups around the states of South Dakota and North Dakota as the One Book.

kathleen norris

The One Book Author Tour provides audiences with an up-close look at the process of writing. Norris’ tour has been a very special experience for reading enthusiasts in South Dakota, as she has earned celebrity status in many literary circles and was even mentioned in legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson’s most recent book.

Norris shared insightful anecdotes with audience members throughout her tour, such as how she developed the “Spiritual Geography” portion of her book title by creating a relationship between two words with completely different meanings.

“As a poet, you like to take things that don’t fit and smash them together,” she explained.
Norris said she has fond memories of South Dakota, and is excited to resume her tour this fall when she travels to Sioux Falls for the South Dakota Festival of Books, where she will present as a keynote speaker.

Following her Festival appearance in Sioux Falls Sept. 26-28, she will make a stop in Yankton to speak Sept. 30 at Mount Marty College at the Marian Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
Read more about the One Book Tour here.

kathleen norris

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