Kent Haruf: The final interview

Kent Haruf conjured an entire fictional town on the windswept Colorado Plains – with his eyes wide shut.

Haruf, perhaps Colorado’s most celebrated novelist, wrote Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction by tapping away at an old-fashioned manual typewriter in his backyard writing shed. And it was Haruf’s style to always type with his eyes closed. That was his way of allowing his imagination to help him create quiet, moving stories of the rural townspeople of Holt that millions of readers found to be universally identifiable.

Haruf, 71, died Sunday morning of lung disease at his home in Salida, about 150 miles southwest of Denver.

“Right now, I don’t feel like death is right around the corner,” Haruf said Monday in his final media interview, with the DCPA NewsCenter. “But if it is, it’s a bigger corner than I thought it was.”

Over the past decade, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has adapted Haruf’s entire Plainsong Trilogy for the live theatre. Benediction, the third chapter adapted by playwright Eric Schmiedl, will open on Jan. 30 at the Stage Theatre. And Haruf’s final novel, Our Souls at Night, is scheduled to be published on June 2.

There has been perhaps no other novelist so keenly in touch with Colorado’s roots.