Sunday, July 10, 2016

Published! "Common Ground" in Whitefish Review

Hello all! I’m excited to share with you the current issue of Whitefish Review, which includes my short essay “Common Ground.” The journal is a beautiful publication from Northwest Montana that highlights the art, literature, and photography of mountain culture. Released on June 4, this issue interprets the theme of Change through an inspiring collection of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art. It also serves as a tribute issue after the passing of the inimitable author Jim Harrison in late March. As such, I’m lucky and humbled to have my words published alongside those of some of my literary heroes: Rick Bass, David James Duncan, Doug Peacock, and Harrison himself.

My small contribution to the issue began—perhaps unsurprisingly—with a walk in the woods. Shortly after I moved to Missoula last fall, good friend Kurt Imhoff and I seized a breezy, sun-polished Sunday to venture up the Camas Creek drainage in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (an area part of which just burned in Western Montana’s first big wildfire of the season). It was the first of many trips I’ve made into the 1.3-million acre roadless area straddling the Idaho-Montana border, and my imagination took off like a roadrunner afterward. The essay came together in Phil Condon’s Environmental Writing workshop as I researched the origins of the wilderness area and its even-larger neighbor, the Frank Church-River of No Return, and as my Environmental Studies coursework challenged me to think about global and local change in new ways. “Common Ground” is just the tip of a tough iceberg: it asks more questions than it answers, but I hope it inspires readers to learn and protect wilderness areas during a present and a future when nothing—even wilderness—remains fully stable. While I posted an earlier draft of the essay on Hartwords last fall, I hope you’ll consider reading the latest version, along with the other work in Whitefish Review, by purchasing a copy of the issue and supporting a dedicated and important publication. Here’s a quick excerpt from my piece:

Short on answers, I seek sanity with trips into wild places, the healing sites preserved by our forebears, vital to our successors. I call up Kurt and we drive to a trailhead before light hits the valley, turning off the news when pavement turns to dirt. Then we start walking and stop talking. On a good day, I stop thinking, and listen only—listen to the old rhythms of this planet. What sounds is the inevitability of change. Larch needles turning and falling, ice ages and droughts, brachiosaur to Brooklyn—march on, ragged world.