History is personal for North Dakota-born author in Dunn Center workshop

Author Charlotte Renner Locklear visited Dunn Center for a book reading of “Greener Pastures.”

By Brad Mosher
The Herald

For Charlotte Renner Locklear, it was another chance to return home.
She was raised north of Richardton on a farm in the 1950s.
But Sunday (Oct. 13), she was in Dunn Center for a reading of her book, “Greener Pastures,” in the meeting room at the Dunn County Museum.
In addition, the author also conducted a workshop on writing techniques, including how to focus and how to write poetry.
Her book is the result of many years of research into her family history, both in North Dakota and before her family emigrated to the United States.
One side of her family, the Kopps, came from Russia.
One of her biggest sources for her family history was in the memoirs of Father Anthony Kopp, something she found in the library of North Dakota State University.
“The land was hostile, flat and very windy,” she said Sunday, reading a passage from his memoirs aloud.
“The prairie sod, unbroken for planting grains. Water was scarce. The few existing wells had dried up due to a drought. New wells had to be dug by hand or water hauled often from shallow rivers or streams,” she read.
“Money was a problem too. Most had just enough to by necessary equipment,” she read.

Author Charlotte Renner Locklear visited Dunn Center for a book reading of “Greener Pastures.”

She also recounted stories from her book like where the Kopps had just one pot between them and their in-laws.
“I don’t know if it is an exaggeration, but if it is real… one pot … who is cooking tonight,” Locklear said with a chuckle.
Locklear is a retired English and journalism teacher who worked for Baltimore County Public Schools for more than 30 years,
The book itself follows the Renner and Kopp families and the story of how they came from Germany and Russia to settle down in North Dakota.
The area still feels like home, she said. “Always. Always. A person can have two homes.”
The family visits the area a lot, she added. “My sister Dorothy has been really gracious and put this all together. She told me where to go and who to be with,” she said with a smile as she signed copies of her book for the people who attended the reading and workshop.
Locklear admitted she already wants to add to itinerary for her next visit.
“I always wanted to go to Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea. I wanted to go up there and just look around again… just to look at it one more time.”


Writing workshop

When it came to writing, Locklear suggested to write things down, whether it is family history or even poetry.
The focus of one exercise was shoes. As examples she read two poems on the subject – one by Robert Frost (“A Record Stride”) and one she had written.
“We all wear them,” she explained. “Some times they pinch. Sometimes they are old. They are comfortable,” she added.
“Let anything and everything about shoes fall out of your head,” she told the writers at the workshop Sunday as they faced the challenge of a blank page.

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