Hooked on Horton

‘Hook: A Memoir’ author Dr. Randall Horton imparts wisdom on KSC

From college student to homeless drug addict to international drug smuggler to imprisoned felon to writer, poet, editor, recorder and professor, Dr. Randall Horton has experienced bewildering struggles and extraordinary transformations. Fortunately, Horton is willing to share these experiences with the world, including the Keene State College community.

The Black Writers at Keene Series presented Dr. Randall Horton at the Redfern Arts Center on Thursday, Feb. 11. Horton read a selection of prose from his newest book, Hook: a memoir.

Colton McKracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McKracken / Equinox Staff

The writer’s new memoir is named after a former nickname he earned when living on the streets and struggling with drug addiction. The prose focuses on his spiral down from college student to incarcerated felon, and incorporates multiple flashbacks from Horton’s life, layered with the issues America faces with the country’s racial and social construction. Hook: a memoir also highlights Horton’s experiences with literature and writing, which helped Horton to turn his life around.

Horton chose various portions of his memoir to read aloud, using a poetic rhythm throughout his reading. He was praised by audience members for his line of advice within the novel, “Claim the laughter of your youth.” Horton went on to tell the audience that he uses the phrase “no excuse” when addressing this memoir. He explained that he has no excuse for what he has done, and he will not claim otherwise. Horton wanted to use this memoir to tell the truth about his experiences and to share his wisdom with others. Horton said, “In order to teach a lesson, I can’t hold this [his story] back.”

Students and staff responded well to Horton’s writing and rhythm. When asked what she thought about the reading, senior literature major Sarah O’Connell answered, “It was really powerful. I’m not used to hearing poetry and prose and feeling so…moved.” O’Connell heard about the event in class from a few of her English professors. O’Connell claimed that while she does not usually like poetry and prose readings, Horton’s reading was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

English professor and Interim Director at the Center for Writing Kate Tirabassi said that the reading was “just excellent.” She continued, “I really enjoyed how beautiful the writing was. His descriptive language is incredible.” This was Tirabassi’s second time hearing Horton speak at Keene State. Tirabassi added that she came to the reading for Horton and to support her departments. Dr. Randall Horton’s reading was supported by Keene State’s Center for Writing, the English Department and the Redfern Arts Center.

When asked what his number one piece of advice would be for young adults on the cusp of beginning their college experience and/or careers, Horton responded, “Your silence will not save or protect you.” He went on to explain that during his college years, he struggled with being assertive and standing up for what he truly believed in. Horton said that he did not have the strength to be his own person at the time, and he faced a multitude of life struggles because of this.

In the end, he advised, “No matter how bad it gets – just show up.”

Amy Donovan can be contacted at adonovan@kscequinox.com

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