If you participated in the Hutchinson One Book, One Community program in 2018, you're familiar with the work of Minnesota author Kao Kalia Yang. The award-winning writer is returning to Hutchinson and she's bringing several colleagues with her.

The author event at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Hutchinson Event Center is part of the Moving Words series, which brings authors Brian Farrey, Peter Geye, Shannon Gibney and Yang together for readings and discussion. This event is free and the public is welcome. ASL interpretation available by advance request.

Featuring multi-genre, Minnesota Book Award-winning authors, Moving Words is an opportunity for writers and readers to explore various themes together: the impact of literature in their lives, their connection as fellow Minnesotans, and the lens through which we read.

According to Katy Hiltner, Hutchinson Public Library head librarian, The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library reached out to the Pioneerland Library System.

"Last year, Willmar was host to this program, so my director reached out to inquire if Hutchinson would be interested this year," Hiltner said. "Of course, when I heard the opportunity to bring in a panel of Minnesota authors to our community I jumped at the chance. I knew the Event Center would provide a fantastic venue, so I reached out to September (Jacobsen, event center coordinator) to schedule a program with her. We're thrilled to have this partnership opportunity."

As a librarian, Hiltner is quick to note that she loves having the opportunity for authors to share their writing experiences and perspectives with readers. 

"Listening to an author in-person greatly enhances the reading experience," she said. "What makes the Moving Words program especially exciting is that this panel is made up of four Minnesota Book Award-winning authors. There will be so much talent represented, and readers of all genres are sure to take away something from this program."

Featured authors include the following:


Yang's book "The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father" was the 2018 Hutchinson One Book, One Community selection. Three programs were offered that year: a background presentation about Hmong people, a community book discussion and a presentation by Yang.

In case you're not familiar with the writer, she is the author of "The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir," winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Reader’s Choice, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. Her second book, "The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father," is about her dad, Bee Yang, who left the mountains of Laos in Southeast Asia to settle at a housing project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

When Yang told her father she was going to write about his life, he didn’t believe she would really do it.

“No one wants to read a book about me,” he told her. “Write a book about presidents.”

“It wasn’t until the night of the book launch for 'The Song Poet' (that he saw the book),” Yang said. “I think he was tremendously moved by it. My father is a song poet. Everything he speaks is poetry. He’s been feeding me language all my life.”

The book went on to win the 2017 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize.

Yang's newest book is a children’s picture book, "A Map Into the World," from Carolrhoda Books. She also co-edited "What God is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriages and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color" with fellow Minnesota Book Award winner Shannon Gibney. Yang is a teacher and a public speaker.


During his visit to Hutchinson, Farrey is visiting New Discoveries Montessori Academy to present to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders about writing and publishing, including how to develop ideas and how the publishing process works. 

Farrey is a two-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award and the 2017 recipient of the McKnight Fellowship in Children’s Literature. His debut novel, "With or Without You," was named a Stonewall honor book by the American Library Association and won the 2012 Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

The first book in his critically acclaimed middle grade fantasy trilogy, "The Vengekeep Prophecies," was named a Junior Library Guild selection, appeared on the Winter 2012-13 Kids’ Indie Next List, and was listed as one of Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Children’s Books of 2012.”

His most recent novel, "The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse," won the inaugural Minnesota Book Award for Middle Grade Literature in 2016. 


Geye is the author of three novels: "Safe from the Sea," "The Lighthouse Road," which was a World Book Night selection, and "Wintering," which won a Minnesota Book Award and was a Midwest Booksellers Choice award winner. All three novels also won the Northeast Minnesota Book Award.

He holds an MFA degree from the University of New Orleans and a doctorate degree from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast, one of the nation’s premier literary magazines. Geye teaches the novel writing program at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.


Gibney is a writer, educator, activist and the author of "See No Color," a young adult novel that won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Young Peoples’ Literature. Her most recent novel, "Dream Country," a 2019 Book Award winner, is about more than five generations of an African-descended family, crisscrossing the Atlantic both voluntarily and involuntarily.

She has co-edited "What God is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriages and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color" with fellow Minnesota Book Award winner Kao Kalia Yang. A Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow, Gibney is also the author of several articles and essays, including the opening essay in "A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota."

She is a faculty member in English at Minneapolis College.


The Minnesota Book Awards is a yearlong program that connects readers and writers across the state with the stories of their neighbors. The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the spring Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony.

Woven throughout the season are various events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books — writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors and more — to readers throughout the state. In recognition of this and its other statewide programs and services, the Library of Congress has recognized The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library as the state’s designated Center for the Book. 

Recommended for you