Wolverine Farm’s Fork Socket reading displayed narrative art, humor Friday evening

Nick Botkin

woman reads literary piece
Emily Harnden, a third year fiction Masters of Fine Arts student at CSU, read an essay at the season finale of the ForkSocket reading series. {Photo courtesy of Abby Flitton | Collegian}

Creative nonfiction. Poetry. Murder mystery skits.

These things might sound incongruous, but they were part of the Fork Socket Reading Series season finale, held at Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House on Friday evening. Hosted by two third-year Colorado State Master of Fine Arts creative writing students, Cole Konopka and Cory Cotten-Potter, the reading featured a combination of creative readings and humorous skits. 

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The night started with a comical murder-mystery skit, in which Konopka and Cotten-Potter took part.

 Cotten-Potter summarized the skit as being about “bad boys when they come for you.”

 The skit was replete with witty and crude repartee.

“How did you lose your virginity?” Cotten-Potter, playing a policeman, asked a suspect. Suffice it to say, it involved an empty house and a “dishwasher with curves.”

The skit was followed by the night’s two readers.

Words can make a difference. They can touch our lives.”-Michelle Thomas, first-year Master of Fine Arts student, fiction

Emily Harnden, a third-year Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiction, read a creative nonfiction essay she’d written about her twin sister’s battle with cancer. Titled “9:47,” the essay was a winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s Intro Awards. The essay was full of lines such as “I think often of how those four minutes have defined us.”

Harnden was followed by poet Abby Chabitnoy, a 2016 graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program. Chabitnoy, whose work has been featured in such literary journals as Tin House, read poetry. This included selections from her impending book, “How To Dress A Fish.” Chabitnoy’s poetry touched on a plethora of subjects. Subject matter included Native American tribal identities, violence against women on reservations, Chabitnoy’s roots in Alaska, as well as her great-grandfather, who was sent to the Carlisle Indian School.

Following the reading, attendees said they enjoyed the combination of reading and humor.

“I thought it was magical and hilarious as always,” said Michelle Thomas, a first-year Master of Fine Arts student in fiction. Thomas said she loved participants’ willingness to “take on different characters and personas and invent different torture methods.”

Thomas said she was sad that this was the last reading under Konopka and Cotten-Potter’s direction. Konopka, a poet, and Cotten-Potter, a fiction writer, are graduating this semester, but the reading series will continue under new hands. The series is currently in its third year.

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Thomas also said the humor complemented the reading nicely.

“It gives the reading atmosphere so people can feel comfortable sharing their work,” Thomas said.

 Thomas said the readings themselves were full of pathos.

“We are very privileged to hear very real emotion shared so candidly,” Thomas said.

Kelly Weber, a second year poet in the Masters of Fine Arts program, also said the reading had emotional impact.

“It opened up so much possibility seeing what art can do,” Weber said. 

 Weber also said the humor offered a nice balance.

 “I love absurdist humor,” Weber said, “which keeps writing from getting too serious and makes it more serious.”

 Megan Clark, a second-year Master of Fine Arts student in fiction, also said the ambience was a plus.

 “It is a relaxed way for students to come and see a reading,” Clark said.

Clark said as a fiction writer she appreciated the opportunity to hear people read from different genres.

Other local readings:

MFA thesis reading

Where: Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, University Center for the Arts

When: 7:30 pm, Apr 5

 So what broader purpose did the reading hold for Colorado State and the Fort Collins community? Weber said the venue opened up readings to a wider audience as well as “representing a broad variety of writers past and present” from CSU.

Others cited art’s broad impact on people.

“Making art accessible is good for everyone,” Clark said.

Thomas said art itself has a strong emotional resonance.

 “Words can make a difference,” Thomas said. “They can touch our lives.”

Collegian reporter Nick Botkin can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.