Fresh Water: Women Writing about the Great Lakes

The editor Alison Swan has put together a remarkable anthology of nature writing in Fresh Water (2006). While my piece is technically a prose poem, Alison felt it fit her vision for this  collection of creative non-fiction and personal essays. My poem tells a true story, somewhat reinvented in my imagination, that a poet told about her son drowning in Lake Michigan. When I was in Northern Michigan to receive the Elinor Benedict Prize for another poem, the huge pulsating lake seemed to want to tell this story that I called “A Mother Reaches Satori on the Tenth Anniversary of her Son’s Drowning in Lake Michigan.” 


From the publisher:

Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes is a collection of nonfiction works by women writers. These works focus on the Midwest: living with the five interconnected freshwater seas that we know as the Great Lakes. Contributing to this collection are renowned poets, essayists, and fiction writers, all of whom write about their own creative streams of consciousness, the fresh waters of the Great Lakes, and the region's many rivers.


Reviews

"Reading Fresh Water is a terrific trip around the Lakes. Well written and finely edited, this book trips the chords of old memories and fresh imagination, and reminds me of how blessed we are by these Great Lakes and the women who write so well about them."
—Lana Pollack, President of the Michigan Environmental Council
 
"There is the hydrology, the biology, and the biochemistry of our Great Lakes. Then there is the history, the economics, and the sociology. And somewhere in there we forget the aesthetics—but it is our sense of their beauty that brings us back to our Lakes and will ultimately protect them. Fresh Water is an essential collection of essays by some of our finest women writers. This book reminds us of the small transformative moments we experience on and around the Great Lakes, and it adds significantly to the record of the beauty we find there."
—Keith Taylor, author of Guilty at the Rapture and co-editor of The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed
 
"Fresh Water  has been wonderfully edited and selected by Alison Swan. This is a sexy, sparkling book—full of history and families, reminiscences and ghosts. Dipping into it, as into the waters of one of our Great Lakes, I want to book a cottage for a month, or the summer—or maybe a year. This is a book to be relished at a cottage on a deck, or to read—midwinter in bed—anywhere in the world. Fresh Water  will take you back—to the Great Lakes or to the lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks you have known. The writings here will change you: stimulating you to read, to see more clearly, and perhaps to write your own words of water and of place."
—Patricia Clark, author of My Father on a Bicycle and Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan


From Booklist Online:

"The women writers in this quietly elegant collection share their thoughts and feelings on the Great Lakes region, one neglected in nature writing, with sublime intelligence. Whether they are relative new comers to the area or longtime residents, their wonder and deep appreciation for all the lakes have to offer is evident in each essay. The lakes themselves are of paramount importance to these writers, and this focus on their subject and not themselves keeps the anthology firmly grounded as nature writing at its very best. Sharon Dilworth remembers mysterious recurring losses at Lake Superior; Leslie Stainton traces the history of place through a point on Lake Erie in her erudite and elegant discussion; and Sue William Silverman, an ocean lover, finds Lake Michigan revelatory. Separately the essays are delightful, intimate, and surprising, and collectively they prove to be compulsively readable. A class act from start to finish."