Celebrating a Writer's Journey

Celebrating a Writer’s Journey

with local author Virginia Reeves

Monday, January 27, 2020 – 7:00 p.m.

Grandstreet Theatre

325 N. Park, Helena, MT


Join the Lewis & Clark Library Foundation to celebrate the writing journey of writer, teacher, and Montana Poet Laureate Melissa Kwasny. 


Both Kwasny and poet Mandy Smoker Broaddus (also published as M.L. Smoker) were appointed by Governor Steve Bullock to share the honor of Montana’s Poet Laureate from 2019-2021.

In addition to the new location at Grandstreet Theatre, this year’s event will take on a new form. Kwasny will share her journey through conversation with local author and educator, Virginia Reeves, with short readings interspersed throughout.

Melissa Kwasny is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today (University of Washington Press - Pacific Northwest Poetry Series) and Pictograph (Milkweed Editions), as well as a collection of prose writings, Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision (Lynx House Press).


She is the editor of Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800–1950 (Wesleyan University Press) and co-editor, with M.L. Smoker, of the anthology I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press).

Recently published by Trinity University Press, Putting on the Dog: The Animal Origins of What We Wear is her first book of investigative nonfiction.

The recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Cecil Hemley Award and Alice Fay di Castognola Award for a work in progress, the Montana Art Council's Artist's Innovation Award, and residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and the Headlands Center for the Arts, Kwasny has taught as visiting writer at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including MFA programs at the University of Wyoming, Eastern Washington University/Inland Pacific Center for Writers and the University of Montana. 


She taught eighteen years at Carroll College and is an instructor in Lesley University's Master in Education program, working with teachers to integrate poetry into their curricula.

Kwasny lives outside of Jefferson City, Montana, in the Elkhorn Mountains.


Praise for Putting on the Dog:

“A first-rate, engaging exploration of the natural and environmental origins of clothing, interwoven with delightful narratives of Kwasny’s investigative travels.” — Dale Peterson, author of Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man

“This masterfully written book asks us to trace our clothing back to its source, beyond the store, beyond the factory, and look the originating animal in the eye. It is full of musk ox, mink, quetzal, oysters, and questions with no easy answers.

Kwasny has given us the Omnivore’s Dilemma of fashion.” — Kim Todd author of Chrysalis, Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis

Poetry Praise:

from Reading Novalis in Montana:

“Melissa Kwasny's work serves as a brilliant tonic, reminding us of the essential gravitas of poems of distinction.”   — Albert Goldbarth

from Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today:

“I can't shake the feeling that this work is haunted by the spirits of the living earth. Revelatory and resplendent, Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today is an alter to a higher vision, an elegant meditation fashioned to both the inconceivable and the conceivable, the immortal and the material world.”  — Debra Earling

“Kwasny gives us here the book our age most desperately needs—a book that searches through the self for all the ancestors, all the dead, which makes of violence not despair but threshold to radical repair—a book that asks, what is the soul?”   — Dan Beachy-Quick

“Kwasny has a rare lyric intelligence that can illuminate the most complexly layered quest for understanding without attempting to simplify its parts.”  — Rusty Morrison


Book sales and signing will follow the presentation.  The event is free and open to all.

For more information, contact Library Director John Finn at (406) 447-6699 or

Melissa Kwasny



Virginia Reeves