Permanent Vacation II: Eighteen Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks
...was published by Bona Fide Books in June 2018. Within it you'll find my essay "Island Voices" about my time as a ranger on Raspberry Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I'm very excited to be part of this collection which features two other essays about Lake Superior--another from the Apostles and one from Isle Royale.
Sadly, the publisher closed its doors in December 2018.
Arts + Literature Laboratory and Black Earth Institute invited me to read as one of the writers exploring the Earth and landscape as the ultimate context for words, actions, hopes, and fears and as a local writer opposing the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line and defending the Driftless Area.
Catherine's essay, "Island"has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and her essay, "Coal Year" has been nominated for The Best American Essays. Island was beautifully published in the literary journal Midwest Review 5 in March 2017. Listen to a recording of Island on the Podcasts page, or read it Here.
Coal Year was published in Kestrel in Fall 2017
Listen to a recording of Coal Year on the Podcasts page, or read it Here.
July 4 ~ Catherine Young published in Flyway Winter 2019
Summer-baked, parade-ready we stand, hands in pockets or on cameras. We talk askance, neighbor-to-neighbor always about the weather and whether any of us will make that window of sunshine to dry our mown hay, and if the least of us will throw in the towel.
We are a ragged lineup, Midwest plump and unafraid to show ourselves in shorts and T-shirts. Propped up in thick-soled sneakers along our small–town street we are all, or will be, or have been 4-H moms and dads, 4-H everyone gathered who has ever lived here in this muddy little bottomland. Seen from the outside, our tableau looks like democracy a là Norman Rockwell, only more cornfed. Even our sheriff’s deputy has equal footing as she waits at the blockade. We hold two hopes to be self-evident: as soon as we can, to march from blazing sun toward picnic shade and cold beer and at next year’s parade to find one another still standing—still here.
Firefly Nights ~ Catherine Young published in Ascent June 30, 2018
June, stay a while. Linger with me until the last bloom on the basswood tree withers, and the bees move on to bergamot. I’ll see you in the jars of cherry jam, the memories of first potatoes and toes in cold lake waters. And later, in December, when it’s hard to remember what is now or real, when I look to the night sky above the frosted field to seek Orion’s steady guidance, I will hold the afterimage of sparks in the night above each creek and stream: arteries of fireflies, glittering rivers of light.
Hymenoptera I: Wasps ~ Catherine Young published in Reliquiae December 2017
My sisters of tiny waists and hooked wing; of crane-like legs trailing thoughtlessly behind, you cling to eaves, mandibles able to deconstruct my house while you build anew each year. I wonder what drives you to tear and vibrate, plaster a paper lantern nest, so perfectly placed to shed bitter weathers; your cone is shaped with spiraled intentions for your brood. So much work in a season, fierce purpose. I fear you, your sting, your hum, that ferocious roar of sisterhood.
Let me not harm you, sisters. My heart's desire for sanctuary is like yours: encircled by this humming, this home building, layer by layer from the grit and spit of the world.
Catherine's Essay Water Song now part of UW Press anthology The Driftless Reader
My essay Water Song is now part of The Driftless Reader, an anthology of over two centuries of writings about the people, land, and history of the Driftless region.
I am excited to be part of this collection which includes writers and environmental thinkers whose work I have long admired Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Ben Logan and Laura Ingalls Wilder, among many others.
More than voice of our Wisconsin Driftless Area farm, the spring creek is an artery in a water heart—alive and pulsing. It is a twig on a water tree, and its course shapes the branch of a trout stream called Dieter Hollow Creek, which in turn, is part of the great water tree called the Mississippi River. In spring, the winged ones in the sky follow the trail of water from trunk to twig and then in fall, back again from twig to trunk. —Catherine Young, from Water Song (2013)
The farmstead stood on a hilltop, like a castle, like the center of the world. . . . Look in any direction and there were other ridges, with dots of houses and barns, and the blue shadows of other ridges still beyond them, each a whole world away from the next narrow ridge. Down below, in the valley, was yet another world. The valleys had different trees and animals. Even the seasons were different. —Ben Logan, from The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People (1975)
Great to meet you and share stories of our land. I hope to see you at other readings and events for The Driftless Reader.