Contours: A Literary Landscape, published by the Driftless Writing Center.
02 March 2020
I am totally excited to announce that an essay of mine titled "Open Season" has been included in a regional anthology: Contours, A Literary Landscape: New Work Collected by the Driftless Writing Center.
The Driftless Writing Center is this neat place in Viroqua, Wisconsin, that "provides literary and educational opportunities, readings and discussions, writing classes and workshops, and an outlet for the presentation of original writing by area writers." They also do a lot of work helping homeschoolers, and for that I feel very warmly toward them, as I wholeheartedly believe in homeschooling.*
So the DWC has published this anthology, Contours, which includes poetry and essays and fiction and original artwork (from 64 contributors). I haven't read the whole thing yet, but every now and then I read a few chapters and just enjoy them. They truly do all have the flavor of my native state, and I enjoy that, because, let's face it, the wonders of Wisconsin are not over-explored in the national media or publishing industry.
Family members have asked me what my essay is about, and I have done a terrible job of answering them, because what my essay is about sounds vaguely stupid when I say it out loud. But I must really work on my "elevator pitches" and summaries, so here's what I'll tell you: My essay is about my brother Brian, who I loved and who was a golden god to me when I was little (he was fourteen years older than me).** He died in a farm accident in 2003, and I just realized recently that I'm older now than he ever got to be. This seems wrong, because in his outgoing way he really enjoyed the hell out of other people and out of being on earth in general. I am not like that. In short, he was a summer person, reveling in getting outside, and I am a winter person, reveling at getting back inside and locking my door behind me. But I find as I age that I want to be a little bit more like Brian, especially since he is not here to enjoy the world.
See? Terrible at summarizing. Here's an excerpt instead:
"In spring I often think of my brother Brian. Which makes no sense, because he died in July and his birthday was in November, so there's no particular reason my thoughts should turn to him more often in this season than in any other. This spring I thought about him, did the math, and realized that I am now older than he was when he died. I feel very old some days. My back is dodgy and I never stopped doing the sideways "C-section roll" out of bed in the mornings that they told me to do after my first son was born and I don't earn enough money and I feel I haven't accomplished anything even though I'm forty-two. And yet, if I were my brother, I would be gone."
I am very honored to be part of this publication. I particularly like the DWC's advertising copy for the book: "Explore the Driftless with 64 of your friends."*** Nice.
*Although I don't get to homeschool the CRjrs, because they actually like other people and seem to enjoy going to school. If someone had offered to homeschool me while I was in grade school? Holy crap. I would have been in heaven.
**Once when I was little, a neighborhood bully I rode the bus with stole a wheel off my toy car, which I was taking to school for show and tell, and which I had taken out of my backpack to show off because I was so proud of it. When he heard this story later that night, my brother Brian drove to the bully's house and demanded he return the wheel. The bully didn't have the wheel anymore, so it didn't help my car, but the bully certainly left me alone after that. No matter what faults my brother had, and he certainly had them, I will love him to my dying day (and hopefully beyond) for that act of older-brother kindness and chutzpah.
***The "Driftless" refers to the southwest corner of Wisconsin (and corners of other states), where glaciers didn't grind the landscape down, and there's a lot of beautiful ridges and woods and river valleys.