Melanie Rae Thon
Fellow: Awarded 2016
Field of Study: Fiction
Competition: US & Canada
Intimate violence, environmental crisis, and miraculous resilience animate the catalytic fictions of Silence & Song. From the blistering expanse of the Sonoran Desert to Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation, lost immigrants, child refugees, radioactive wolves, problem bears, liquidators, and the sister of a desperate killer seek grace in the midst of devastation.
In The 7th Man, the fevered confession of a prison guard exposes the secret role he’s played in 131 executions. Cracked and transformed by a terrifying cascade of memories, Valen Arnoux comes to believe any man he’s killed might be himself, his closest friend, his brother—every suffering mother seems to be his own—every victim his wife or child.
Melanie Rae Thon’s other books and chapbooks include Lover, a fine art edition featuring her fiction and the paintings of Wendy Thon; The Bodies of Birds; The Good Samaritan Speaks, a fine art edition featuring her poetry and the work of eight visual artists; the novels The Voice of the River, Sweet Hearts, Meteors in August, and Iona Moon; and the story collections In This Light, Girls in the Grass, and First, Body. She is a recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, the Hopwood Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gina Berriault Award, and a Writer's Residency from the Lannan Foundation. In 2009, she was Virgil C. Aldrich Fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center.
As a teacher, explorer, and writer, she is devoted to the celebration of diversity from a multitude of human and nonhuman perspectives, shattering traditional limits of narrative consciousness as she interrogates the repercussions of exile, slavery, habitat loss, genocide, and extirpation in the context of mystery and miracle, ecstasis, and the infinite wonder of cosmic abundance. Her work moves beyond and between genres, and might be considered poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction—love songs and prayers, laments and confessions.
There are three ascending levels of how one mourns: with tears ~ that is the lowest ~ with silence ~ that is higher ~ and with song ~ that is the highest.
~ Hasidic teaching
Originally from Montana, Melanie now lives in Salt Lake City, where she teaches at the University of Utah.
Follow this link to view a trailer for Silence & Song
Follow this link to view images from The Good Samaritan Speaks (Prompt 4) and Lover (Gallery Series 2)
Follow this link and scroll down to view Melanie’s Faculty Page at the University of Utah
Follow this link to view The Bodies of Birds and The 7th Man
Follow this link and Click on Melanie Rae Thon to view FC2 page
Photograph credit: Andi Olsen