Today, on AuTHor Thursday, meet Brady Bergeson.
Brady Bergeson teaches writing at NDSU. He was a principal writer and performer for The Electric Arc Radio Show, a staged, episodic radio series that ran for three years in Minneapolis at the Ritz Theatre and the Assembly Theatre at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. Episodes were also staged in New York and Chicago, and aired on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current 89.3 in Minneapolis. His work has appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Opium Magazine, among others. A found poem he created from a transcript of a Republican Presidential Debate is currently on display at the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead as part of the Albino Buffalo exhibit. His short story, “The Girl, the Boy, the Goat, and Heidegger,” was published on a series of stickers last year by Albino Buffalo, an art collective that sells stickers designed by local artists through vending machines.
Q & A with Brady
Who currently inspires you?I’ve always been inspired by the short story writer George Saunders. His stories are exciting and address what it means to be alive in our current world. Even when his stories are satirical, they are still grounded in characters that are authentic. Everything he does is approached with a great deal of humanity. It’s a good way to be a writer, and it’s a good way to live your life. Here’s a short video of him talking about story.
What are you currently reading?I’ve been reading some Scandinavian mysteries. I read Henning Mankell’s series of Inspector Wallander books years ago, and I just recently started reading Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series.
I’m constantly going back to the short stories of Aimee Bender. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is a fantastic collection. And I seem to always be reading something by Louise Erdrich because I inevitably have her in the readings for whatever class I’m teaching.
I’ve also been reading two new short story collections: Steven Millhauser’s Voices in the Night, and Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles, which won the National Book Award.
And I just started reading The Odyssey with my son. It should be fun as he’s been obsessed with mythology and is currently more up on it than I am.
What advice do you have for writing teachers?Be kind. Be honest. Be supportive. It’s easy to get caught up in marking areas for improvement, but remember to find the positive in a student’s work. Even the students who may be struggling the most have something to say. Help them see where they have opportunities, and they’ll start to see their strength and power. Every writer has room for improvement and growth, but if the hill looks too big they won’t take the first step. Encourage the first step.
I see a lot of students who are good writers, but they don’t think of themselves as good writers. They don’t see that they have strengths. So a lot of it is just about confidence. I didn’t have a lot of confidence as a creative writer in college. I remember walking down a hall with a professor and he sort of offhandedly mentioned something he thought was strong in my writing. And I was shocked. And he was shocked that I was shocked. It was the first time I felt this was something I could do.
Also, remember that mechanics are important, but a lot of students who struggle with mechanics are often the ones who have the most interesting ideas. So make sure to honor that part of their writing.
Thank you Brady for graciously sharing your writing world with us.