For Immediate Release
May 2, 2013
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BROCKPORT, NY—More than 450 people filled Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester May 1 to hear the story behind the story of Cheryl Strayed’s New York Times bestselling memoir Wild. They didn’t leave disappointed.
Strayed’s visit concluded the 46th season of The Writers Forum as she accepted the prestigious Art of Fact Award from The College at Brockport, State University of New York, in recognition of her excellence in literary nonfiction. Anne Panning, PhD, a Brockport English professor and co-director of The Writers Forum called Wild a “life-altering book.” And then Strayed went on to detail why.
Wild chronicles Strayed’s 1,000-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. But, Strayed told the audience, the book is about much more than the journey.
“This book does not hinge on the fact that I took this hike…that I did some incredible thing,” Strayed said. “But what does this incredible thing that I did mean? And it took years for me to learn that.”
Strayed had found herself shattered by both her mother’s sudden death and the end of her marriage. She turned to a life of sex and drugs to cope, before ultimately deciding to confront her pain along the Pacific Crest Trail.
“When I finished my hike, I was transformed,” Strayed said. “The things that were hard in my life still were…but I learned how to bear them better.”
Wild inspired Oprah Winfrey to revive her popular book club, making it the inaugural selection of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 as the memoir eventually ascended to No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.
Panning and Brockport President John R. Halstead, PhD, presented Strayed with the Art of Fact Award, which is now in its 14th year. The award was created by Thomas Markusen, a metalsmith and designer who is an emeritus professor of art at Brockport.
The Writers Forum, an annual reading series that brings prominent, award-winning writers to campus, presents the Art of Fact Award every spring to a non-fiction writer whose works contribute significantly to American culture. The event is co-sponsored by M&T Bank. Past recipients include Ruth Reichl, Ian Frazier, Susan Orlean, Wendell Berry, and Augusten Burroughs.
The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 * www.brockport.edu