About 70 people attended the Kent Haruf Literary Celebration over the weekend, learning from his novels, watching movies made from his books and getting the chance to interact with people who worked with him.
“I kept thinking, this is a love fest,” said Haruf’s widow, Cathy. “I think everyone was happy to be there, and Kent meant something to everyone who was there.”
Haruf is the author of six novels and lived in Salida from 2000 until his death in 2014.
Over the weekend his work lived on at Salida SteamPlant.
Ritesh Batra, who directed “Our Souls at Night,” helped kick off the celebration by showing his film Friday and answering questions afterwards.
Saturday began with a showing of the Haruf video “Plainsong.”
Author Mark Spragg then spoke and answered questions in a segment called “Remembering Kent.”
Sue Hodson, formerly a curator at the Huntington Library, where Haruf’s papers are held, gave a presentation called “No Goddamn Sunday School Picnic: Grace and Redemption in Plainsong.”
Photographer Peter Brown, who worked with Haruf on “West of Last Chance,” talked about working with him.
Carol Samson’s stage adaptation of Haruf’s novel “The Tie That Binds” was performed on Saturday and Sunday.
Greg Schwipps, professor at DePauw University, talked about how Haruf teaches place, what a writer can learn about setting from Haruf’s novels and what one writer learned from the man himself.
Haruf’s daughter Sorel led a creative writing workshop.
Kent Thompson, the artistic director for stage presentations of “Plainsong,” “Eventide” and “Benediction,” spoke on Sunday.
Ramazan Yigit also spoke on “Kent’s Community through a Kurdish Immigrant’s Eyes” on Sunday.
The highlight of the celebration, Cathy Haruf said, was “the whole thing.”
“It was fabulous,” she said. “It was a love fest celebrating Kent.”
The celebration was also a fundraiser for the Kent Haruf Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to high school juniors or seniors who are interested in creative writing. Cathy Haruf said she was unsure how much the event will make after expenses, but they’d like to give away two $1,000 scholarships next year.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Cathy said about the celebration. “It was just wonderful.”