Rilla AskewThe January 14 Second Sunday Poetry Reading will feature multiple award winning American novelist and short story writer Rilla Askew. The free reading begins at 2:00 pm in The Depot, 200 South Jones. Light refreshments are served.

Rilla Askew is a fifth generation Oklahoman. In her recently published first nonfiction collection, Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place, Askew casts an unflinching eye on American history, both past and present, through nine linked essays. The collection evokes a vivid impression of the United States: police violence and gun culture, ethnic cleansing and denied history, spellbinding landscapes and brutal weather. To render these conditions in the particulars of place, Askew spotlights the complex history of Oklahoma as a microcosm of our national saga. 

Askew argues that we must own our contradictory selves—our violence and prejudices, as well as our hard work and generosity—so the wounds of division in our society can heal. With grace and authority she speaks honestly about the failures of the dominant culture in which she grew up, even as she expresses a sense of love for its people.

"Rilla Askew is known for the energy, emotional range and formal complexity of her work in long-form fiction. She writes with vivid dramatic assurance and rich compassion of the events of Oklahoma, and indeed, American history, her scope both intimate and epic. She tackles brutal issues of race and culture without pulling punches, yet she evokes the essential humanity of all her characters. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes lyric, sometimes funny, always engaging, her fiction like Faulkner's explores the related tragedies of family and history. As in the work of Cormac McCarthy, Askew shows how an unforgiving landscape resonates in human fate.”  Oklahoma Book Awards

Her fiction books include: Kind of Kin; Harpsong; Fire in Beulah; The Mercy Seat; and Strange Business.

Askew graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance in 1980 and went on to study creative writing at Brooklyn College, where she received her MFA in 1989. Rilla has taught at Syracuse University, Brooklyn College, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2003, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

Askew is married to actor Paul Austin. They live in Norman, where Askew teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Programs at The Depot are made possible, in part, by grants from the Norman Arts Council and the Oklahoma Arts Council.  Additional support comes from corporate and individual donors.  For additional information phone 405-307-9320.