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Lycoming Alumnus to read from latest book about Udall tornado

Lycoming Alumnus to read from latest book about Udall tornado

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Lycoming College will host alumnus Jim Minick ’86 in the Humanities Research Center for a presentation and reading from his new book, “Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas.” Part of a 12-stop tour to launch the new book, the reading will take place in the Humanities Research Center on the Lycoming campus, Tuesday, June 13, at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

On May 25, 1955, an F5 tornado struck Udall, Kan., at 10:35 p.m. There was no warning. In roughly three minutes, it destroyed most of the buildings, toppled the water tower, and killed 82 people. The Udall tornado was, and still is, the worst in the history of Kansas and one of the worst in U.S. history. “Without Warning” tells the story of this town’s destruction and rebuilding through the eyes of those who survived, and this story provides insights into how we might move forward into our climate-changed future.

While Minick was looking for a new book project, he heard of the story of the Udall tornado from his sister-in-law who grew up in this small town. “She and her mother introduced me to many survivors, and when I began to hear and collect these incredible stories, I knew I had to try to capture their power in this book,” he said.

While on campus, Minick will also conduct a workshop for a select group of Lycoming students on collecting and using oral histories as they work to expand the College’s digital humanities capacity to help strengthen humanities education at the institution.

“The foundation of my education and time at Lycoming was based on close relationships with several professors, especially Emily Jensen and David Rife. They spent hours working with me both in and out of the classroom, and now that I’ve taught for more than 30 years, I realize how special and time-intensive that kind of work is,” said Minick. “Returning to campus is a small way of showing gratitude and paying it forward, and also another way to support the work of the Humanities Resource Center to demonstrate the great interconnection between all disciplines. I hope Lycoming students understand that interconnection and the value of their time at Lycoming.”

Minick is the author or editor of eight books, including Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas (nonfiction), “The Intimacy of Spoons” (poetry, forthcoming), Fire Is Your Water, (novel), and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family. His work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Poets & Writers, Oxford American, Orion, Shenandoah, The Sun, Conversations with Wendell Berry, Appalachian Journal, Wind, and The Sun. He serves as coeditor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel.

His honors include the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing and the Fred Chappell Fellowship at UNC-Greensboro. Minick has also won awards from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association, Southern Environmental Law Center, The Virginia College Bookstore Association, Appalachian Writers Association, Radford University, and elsewhere. Minick’s poem “I Dream a Bean” was picked by Claudia Emerson for permanent display at the Tysons Corner/Metrorail Station. He’s garnered grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Augusta University, Georgia Humanities Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Additional details on Minick’s writing, events, and other work are available at