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Curtis, Nancy, Hasselstrom, Linda M. Physical Description xxix, p. Subjects American literature -- West U. Women -- West U. American literature -- Women authors. American literature -- 21st century. Contents Machine derived contents note: Callahan, How Do I Thank? Manz, We Four C. Kelley, September 12, B. Notes "A Mariner Book. View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links Related resource Sample text at http: Set up My libraries How do I set up "My libraries"? This single location in All: The University of Melbourne Library. Open to the public.

This single location in Victoria: None of your libraries hold this item. Many of us keep in contact, weaving more narratives from the connections we formed, or strengthened, at Devils Tower. Contributors come to read with us everywhere we go; they write books and encourage other women in community efforts. Leaning, they say, validates their struggles, encourages them to defend their beliefs. Readers elsewhere realize that these Western women have opinions that must be considered in decisions about the West.

Dozens of readers tell us they keep the book on their bedside tables, so they can reread favorite parts. Some reviewers didn't realize that the book was written by real women about the hardships and joys to be found in today's West. Befuddled by their own myths, they asked whether these stories by "pioneer women" were really true.

That night, when we editors collapsed, we were already thinking of the next anthology. A reader later wrote, "This isn't a book. KelleyAs usual, the editors drove around the West promoting the book. Thriftily, we shared motel rooms, discovering that Gaydell writes at sunrise, eats leftover Chinese food for breakfast, and always packs chocolate; that Nancy takes her own coffeepot; that Linda doesn't own a hair dryer. At each stop, we greeted "women we had just met, yet knew to our bones because their stories were our own.

While those first contributors are part of a unique Western population, each is also linked to others in an expanding spiral of influence. Our journeys create widening circles of connection, "interwoven communities" of people who know one another's friends or relatives or home neighborhoods. How many circles, we wonder, swirl around each of us?

As we editors learned to appreciate and trust one another more, we began to talk about women's friendships. We asked one another: What do other Western women value in their friends? The theme of our second anthology, Woven on the Wind, had materialized. For the second book, we asked them to write about the one topic they'd avoided: Who were their friends, and why? If they had no women friends, how did they persevere? We feared that comradeship between women might be too private to publicize, but we were wrong; "in spite of the hard work, or maybe because of it, we found time for fun and friendship.

From more than a thousand manuscripts, we selected essays and poems by women. Houghton Mifflin published Woven on the Wind: Tattered Cover, Denver's legendary independent bookstore, generously hosted our May publication party during a typical plains spring blizzard. One writer snowshoed several miles from her mountain home, hoping to hitch a rideonly to find the highway blocked by drifts. Still, dozens of women gathered with our new editor from Boston to read and celebrate. Later, in a newsletter, we joyfully shared the warm reviews with our contributors, strengthening and deepening our bonds with one another.

The writing "carries the weight of a communal essay," said one well-known writer, on the book's jacket. Women who live a long way from bookstores and malls exchange copies, celebrating friendship the way our forebears did when they helped each other butcher a buffalo or stitch a quilt.

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With each new project, we refreshed past acquaintance and found new writers. These strong women "nurture not only their families but also their communities," and, like the books, will help preserve the truths of real Western lives for our future. So the theme of the third collection arose naturally from the writing and connections created by the first two.

We believe, with many of these writers, that women who can lead are no more important than women who follow: We understand that "as a group, we are leaders. We drove all over Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Montana, and Utah to promote Woven, and meanwhile we discussed ideas for a third anthology. We met contributors and readers in bookstores, county libraries, museums, coffee shops, book festivals, and in a huge concrete bunker that was once an underground water tank but now serves as an art center.

Everywhere, we joined a "convergence of women. At the local hotel caf, a waitress said the woman usually ate lunch at home, and gave us directions. We chuckled at the familiar way a neighborhood keeps track of its residents. In Billings, Montana, we read with contributors on the sale floor of a cattle auction barn. Many in the audience had never entered a sale barn before, so one contributor's husband, an auctioneer, conducted a mock sale to show how such sales proceed, and to start the performance. We explained that the entire floor of the ringfreshly washed for our appearanceis a scale that weighs the livestock as they are sold and flashes the total onto a large screen, to help buyers calculate their bids.

We thanked our hosts for turning off the scale, so that our combined tonnage was not revealed to the audience. From the rainy mountains of Oregon to the cornfields of Iowa, from the wheat fields of Saskatchewan to the arid plains of Texas, we solicited women's writing. For the first time in this anthology series, we relied on technology, e-mailing our call for manuscripts to twenty-two states, Mexico, and Canada's Western provinces.

We flung our electronic message out to thousands of individuals and organizations focused on writing, reading, storytelling, journalism, rural life, the West, women's studies, and other fields; to radio stations, newspapers, magazines, publishers, and bookstores; to state and regional arts councils, extension services, and on- line discussion groups. Nearly four hundred women responded, sending us almost seven hundred answers in the form of essays and poems. Though writers were not allowed to submit their contributions by e- mail, we did ask for and receive some submissions on computer disks; in certain cases, we were able to transfer documents directly to our own computers without having to retype them, one of the time-devouring chores of the earlier books.

We also worked with some writers on their manuscripts by e-mail. We met to discuss the anthology only once and conducted the rest of our business electronically, despite computer gremlins and outages caused by floods, blizzards, Wyoming wind, and fire. We cannot say that "we never left anyone out," but we are grateful also to the women who submitted pieces we are not able to publish. Their thoughts helped shape our perceptions of this book, and their writings inspired agonizing debates.

Our most difficult task was deleting pieces we relished, in order to adhere to our contractual word limit. We delight in the diversity of these texts. Women whose lives differ from ours demonstrate that the West is no fantasy paradise where everyone dresses, votes, and thinks alike. As editors, we must present the truth, because we answer to our contributors. Some of these women are downright cantankerous!

As in our two previous collections, in Crazy Woman Creek we allowed submissions to determine content and organization, and we might have created several other books from the available materials. As one contributor writes, "making community is like making rag rugs: Remove one of us, ten of us, thousands of us, and the design will change, but the creation will be braided anew, the gap filled by another rag or ribbon, so that the community remains strong and beautiful.

Many of these true stories involve a change of perspective: Sometimes, cooperation converges on need: Some women meet in a hot tub to visit, others in pickups or laundromats; a rancher reports on the reactions of cowboys when she chooses horse work over housework. The title was inspired by Ashley Coats's essay. This part of the book reflects, metaphorically as well as realistically, that "surge of understanding" which may flash between people even when they seem to be speeding down the road in separate vehicles, going different directions.

Reimers Kyhn"Hallelujah and a Show of Hands" centers on organized groups, men and women who meet at set times for a specific purpose.


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Contributors tell stories of the past and present, and sometimes they consider the future. Here, too, are women impatient with the restrictions of organized groups, women who want to "effect change rather than discuss it," who urge us to "get off the Internet and into the streets. One writer describes how women ran a Wyoming railroad, until they lost their jobs when the men returned from war. Women recall harmony found at the drugstore, at the beauty parlor, at a powwow, in a sewing circle.

Groups cooperate in running races and in saving a historic meeting hall, meet to discuss books or write them, to ride horses, organize funerals, support rape victims. We found the title in Helen M. Wayman's droll look at a group of church women confronting change, the poem "Hallelujah! Reiter"Cowgirl Up, Cupcakes" recognizes that whereas we seek membership in some groups, other societies select us. Though the choice of fellowship may not be ours, we often find possibilities we hadn't considered. These writers find humor, despair, admiration, or hope in characters tossed together by circumstance or genetics.

Contributors write of those who build on painful experiences to create joy and who learn to relish the eccentricity of neighbors they never would have chosen. Others scrutinize their families, musing on benefits and obligations gleaned in weeding the garden, harvesting food, teaching an appreciation for language, or "doin" for the less fortunates.

Women write of the opportunities inherent in the natural cycles of birth and death, health and illness. Time and memory connect the five-year-old helping her grandmother make tortillas to the grandma passing down tortilla lore. Embracing age, women tell how they learned to create their own companionship. In crises, these women have found an astonishing array of avenues for supporting one another.

When times were tough, these women didn't put up with whining, but their efforts left a legacy of laughter and toughness their children remember and practice. Instead of erecting monuments, the writers in these pages demonstrate community connections in story form. We expect the books to provide inspiration for our descendants a lot longer than the average fad does, whether it's a trendy bestseller or a marble obelisk. Traveling together, the editors admired miles of countryside, saw hundreds of Real Estate for Sale signs, and noticed malls and subdivisions attempting to encircle small towns.

Moseying along in Flora the Explorer, spitting dust, we pondered the future of Westerners and wannabes in city and country and began this third collaboration. After all, "woven inside women's ways of knowing" are centuries of survival in spite of tragedy. Whether we live in a subdivision or on a ranch, a logging hamlet or a tourist burg, we want to be in a place where neighbors mourn one another's losses, help each other build new lives, work together to resolve conflicts without rending the fabric of the neighborhood.

When we succeed in identifying with fellow citizens, "the community wins," and we all benefit. Crazy Woman Creek became a wild and crazy gathering of viewpoints as complex as the Western landscape and the womenand menwho inhabit it. Contributors may contradict each other, but they manage to get along as well as folks ever have in the West.

As traditional Western communities are subdivided and expanded, we wonder if new residents can ever settle comfortably into old neighborhoods. To do so, they must banish the myths and see the reality, understand that such places are not static photographs of folks in big hats on horses. We have all seen what one contributor describes as "the ugly face this normally friendly little town can wear. All three of us editors have lived most of our lives in the kind of traditional rural neighborhoods described by some contributors in the writings that follow.

We recognize and love "that hometown sense of belonging, that like-mindedness" some writers report in the pages to follow. But through their writing we've also met women whose backgrounds are entirely different from ours, whose only bond to the land was their grandparents" reminiscences about farm life. They, too, speak in these pages; they care deeply about the West and want to belong. Have they arrived too late? Some of these writers argue that a community can exist only in a particular place and must be composed of people who knew your grandparents and your parents.

In many ways, we identify with this opinion, as can many Westerners who grew up in the sheltered assurance of a long and settled family history. But most of us can no longer expect our families to live in one place for several generations. Are our lively Western communities doomed to exist only as brown photographs of a flat landscape in a dusty book? Will future residents see the West through sepia-toned spectacles? The stories and poems in Crazy Woman Creek offer lively and varied views of the ways people come together in today's West, and ideas that may help us take a fresh look at the idea of community.

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Perhaps members of Western communities can create new ways of living together in settlements where residents accept the past as well as the future. Those rural settlements where we grew up were founded on the belief that "being part of a community is much more than owning property within its boundaries. As other writers note, bemoaning our losses and hating newcomers do not improve a community. If folks who can't stand change just move away, they alter more than one neighborhood.

Some women write about the challenge of staying in one place, adjusting as it reconstructs itself. Even when we feel most powerless, they say, we are not alone. An Idaho sheep rancher, for example, figured out how to educate newcomers, instead of cursing them. She now says, "In our community, we are all making new friends. Before we can answer that question, we need to get acquainted. In order to participate as members of any community, we need to exchange our stories, to teach, and to learn. In this book, some women write guidelines for retaining or re-creating the best qualities of old- time Western neighborhoods.

Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West

Everyone knows parables that can show us a path when we are lost, can heal us, recall us to our best selves. Telling stories from our lives, say the experts, helps us understand the events that have happened to us, no matter how difficult they have been. Sharing our burdens may assuage our loneliness, allow us to support one another without self-pity. Will getting to know our neighbors help us arbitrate a better future for our communities? We cannot keep our settlements forever in the past, though our mothers may have lived and died on the banks of Crazy Woman Creek without complaint, and without considering the implications.

But if we invite a new neighbor in for a visit, or help him change a flat tire, we might begin to help people in our neighborhood decide together how much change we can accept. Newcomers and longtime residents may learn to live in peace, even if compromise means we must change Bitch Basin to Mountain Meadow Estates.

One contributor remarks, about a tragic story told and retold in her town, that "we needed to draw the suffering of our neighbors into our lives and to claim their pain before we could begin to heal as individuals and as community. Human nature tugs us toward one another. To determine the best possible future for Western settlementsor any other neighborhoodwe need to get closer than we can by cell phone or a distant wave through the windshield.

Another woman writes that she felt isolated in precisely the kind of subdivision many rural residents fear will replace our wide-open spaces. Searching for connections, she recalled how her mother and grandmother took casseroles to the bereaved and listened to their sadness.


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At first, she felt awkward copying her elders" gestures; she thought, "Maybe if I practiced, I would get better at it. Creating connections requires work, commitment, and time. Just moving in isn't enough; membership in a group or community has value only if it is earned in those countless rituals that make up our busy days. Offer a lift to a neighbor, visit with the pharmacist; small gestures splice us together, weaving bonds that become friendship and cooperation. A resident of a unique Iowa enclave says, "Those who stay and prosper are the ones who come to cherish Amana for what it is.

They join in, take part, and help out. Women Rewrite the American West has been created by its contributors.

Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West by Linda M. Hasselstrom

We asked women to draw upon their experiences living west of the Mississippi River, to write a good and true story about contemporary women in any community, whether it's a place, an organization, or a spontaneous gathering. Although men were not excluded, we wanted stories focused on women, and on how their actions affect others. Our yardstick would be, as always, authenticity and quality of writing.

Evaluating manuscripts, we were alert for writing that grew out of strong convictions, whether we agreed with the conclusions or not. If a particular subject drew the attention of several writers, we worked to eliminate repetition and to select the most appropriate account. We loved brilliantly written compositions, but we also appreciated the work of less experienced writers whose beliefs and emotions were an important component in the collective voice.

We asked ourselves how to balance prose and poetry, how much attention to pay to geographical distribution. Eventually, we agreed, the true stories we chose had to possess a quality we call heart.

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One Wyoming writer told us that when the family crossed it, her husband always said, "Look, kids! There's your mom's creek: Margaret Smith, who lives near the creek, tells us that after the crazy woman of legend died, her spirit inhabited the canyon walls. The woman looked as if she were cryingor screaming. Jane Wells, a contributor to this anthology, also lives nearby, and calls Crazy Woman Canyon "a monument of tumbled granite, rushing snow melt, deep shadows, and brilliant sunlight.

Recalling the legends, keeping the stories alive can remind us of the power we women share. Every winter day, Jane Wells leaves her bed before dawn and in the moonlight pitches hay to the horses, breaks ice in the creek with an ax, and does other ranch chores before heading to her day job in town. She's standing behind the information desk at the museum when some tourists from Germany ask if she knows the origin of the name of Crazy Woman Canyon.

She takes a deep breath and looks them straight in the eye.