Saturday, September 04, 2010

Labor Day weekend is good time to order new "Working Words" anthology

A new anthology from Coffee House Press in the Twin Cities is Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams. It's edited by my old pal in Detroit, poet and performer M. L. Liebler. The foreword is written by Ben Hamper.

I would be negligent (and totally self-promoting) if I didn't mention that one of my stories is in the book. Entitled "The Problem with Mrs. P," it's in my first collection, The Weight of a Body from Ghost Road Press in Denver.

I was just reading another of the anthology's stories, "Turn the Radio to a Gospel Station" by Ohio writer, poet and nurse Jeanne Bryner. I met Jeanne at a YMCA Writer's Voice retreat at Fur Peace Ranch near Pomeroy, Ohio. The ranch is run by guitar great and bluesman Jorma Kaukonen and his wife. Some of you Boomers may remember Jorma from his days with a little group called Jefferson Airplane. M.L. was also at the retreat. That was back in the days when he ran the Detroit YMCA's Writer's Voice program. Bluiesman, writer and arts administrator Bob Fox was also in attendance. Bob passed away from lung cancer a few years later. I miss Bob.

All of us come from modest roots. Working people. Assembly-line workers. Oil well workers. Cowboys. Accountants. Nurses. Day laborers. Union people of all kinds. Maybe that's why we write about regular folks. Those are whom most writers are concerned with. Even Ayn Rand before she went loony.

But the late Ayn is not in this anthology. Here's some background on the book:
Jobs are at the forefront of the national consciousness, yet there is a dearth of literature written by and for workers. This anthology—of fiction, memoir, poetry, rock lyrics, and astute historical analysis—fills the gap for readers both young and old, as well as students of literature and labor history.

A collection about living while barely making one, about layoffs and picket lines, about farmers, butchers, miners, waitresses, assembly-line workers, and the “Groundskeeper Busted Reading in the Custodial Water Closet,” this is literature by the people and for the people—a transcendent volume that touches upon all aspects of working-class life.
Glad to be sharing the pages with M.L. and Jeanne. And all of these people: Bonnie Jo Campbell, Woody Guthrie, Edward Sanders, Willa Cather, Lolita Hernandez, John Sayles, Andrei Codrescu, Bret Lott, Quincy Troupe, Dorothy Day, Thomas Lynch, Jack White, Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, Walt Whitman, Bob Dylan, Michael Moore . . . and many more!

Happy Labor Day!

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