Salida Celebrates Colorado Author Kent Haruf's Literary Legacy

Colorado celebrates the late author Kent Haruf in Salida the weekend of September 27 to 29. The literary heritage of Colorado takes center stage in Salida next weekend, when the city celebrates the life and work of its most famous hometown writer, the late Kent Haruf .

The Kent Haruf Literary Celebration, hosted at the Salida SteamPlant Event Center , will honor the author’s enduring legacy and his influential books, most famously including the novel Plainsong . The event is limited to only 200 attendees, and tickets are $150 for the weekend.

Haruf, who passed in 2014, was born in Pueblo in 1943, and enjoyed a career in writing that spanned three decades. He will be “remembered as a humble, generous, kind, and talented gentleman, always keenly interested in the lives of others,” the organizers wrote in a statement. So it makes sense that all proceeds from the celebration with benefit the Kent Haruf Memorial Writing Scholarship .

Westword spoke with Haruf’s wife Cathy about the upcoming Salida festivities, about her late husband and his work, and about how Colorado – fictional or not – was ever-present in his writing.

Westword: The second annual Kent Haruf Literary Celebration is coming up in Salida on the last weekend in September. Can you tell us how that event came about?

Cathy Haruf: The first Kent Haruf Literary Celebration was met with such enthusiasm that we decided we would make it a biannual event.

Tell us about the highlights of the weekend. What are those things you’re most enthused about for this second year?

I’m really excited about the speakers who are coming. This is a “Friends of Kent Haruf” event, and the people who are presenting have had a real connection with Kent over the years. Gregg Schwipps [English professor at DePauw University], Mark Spragg

, Haruf collaborator Peter Brown, Sue Hodson [former curator of literary collections at The Huntington Library], Kent Thompson, Carol Samson…these writers, former students, playwrights, theater and film directors all knew and loved Kent, and that is what makes this gathering so meaningful. I am also thrilled that Ritesh Batra, the director of the film Our Souls at Night [based on Haruf’s 2015 novel of the same name], will be coming, too.

Clearly, this is meant to further the impressive legacy of Kent Haruf the writer; what specifically do you think Kent would have loved about the way he’s remembered?

One of the things I hear over and over again is how Kent was such a good friend and listener. He found people fascinating. He found people and their stories fascinating. Kent would joke that, really, he was just a gossip and an eavesdropper. Vintage Why do you think that Kent’s work – especially Plainsong – keeps resonating with readers after all these years?

I think Kent’s work continues to resonate with readers because he deals with universal themes: people looking for love, the meaning of family, finding real connections in unexpected […]

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