Kyler Flock handpicks novel for NEA Spearifsh Reads

Why 'Wizard of Earthsea' will make you spellbound
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 9:41 AM MDT
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The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. One of those recipients is the prestigious Matthew’s Opera House and here to talk more is communications director, Kyler Flock.

Transcription for Broadcast:

BLAKE: The Matthews has just recently announced their selected novel for the NEA Big Read Spearfish 2021. Can you tell me a little bit about the novel you selected and how that process of selecting the novel works?

KYLER: Yes that is correct, and the novel that we have chosen is Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. La Guin. This is a program that we work on every other year, so during those off years, the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest puts out a list of about 35 different novels that range from classics to modern day best sellers. We typically set about 5-10 aside that we really think would fit our community, and what novels we think we could incorporate into our three months of programming.

BLAKE: What made you select Wizard of Earthsea?

KYLER: Contrary to our last selected novel, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Wizard of Earthsea is more of a classic book from the late 1960s which we thought would be fun by switching up the eras. But more importantly, I think that Wizard of Earthsea offers a wide range of themes that I really felt like our community would respond well to. This is a book that is regarded as a widely influential fantasy novel that really gave readers a new perspective on wizards, magic, and adventure. Aside from the exciting plot and characters, it also offers great themes of adolescence, discovery and growth, and rights of passage. The Matthews staff felt like this book would cover the widest range of audience members which we strive for so that the programming can be enjoyed by all.

BLAKE: Can you tell us a little bit about the programming you intend to offer for your NEA Big Read Spearfish?

KYLER: Yes, so although we are still a little ways out- we will kick off in mid January- we are at the stage where we get to have fun coming up with all the exciting programs. We intend to have multiple library readings with our partners at the Grace Balloch Memorial Library, have a fantasy film series in our historic opera house, host a visual arts exhibit based on the novel in our gallery, pattern with local coffee shops and breweries for event nights, and even get our public schools and Black Hills State University (another partner) to incorporate the novel into their curriculum. This year in particular, the programming part has been especially unique with the current pandemic but it has given our organization a great opportunity to get creative on how to make virus-safe programming.

BLAKE: Will this book be available for all to read, or how can readers get a copy?

KYLER: Yes, that is one of the coolest parts of this program. Apart from the Grace Balloch Memorial Library having some extra copies for readers to get involved, the Matthews Opera House will have a ‘distribution day’ in our gallery where readers can stop by and pick up a copy for free!

Copyright 2020 KEVN. All rights reserved.

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