Monday, May 07, 2018

A broadside is designed to get a reader's attention

Broadside published by University of Minnesota Press, 2018. 
I received a broadside in the mail this week. A broadside is a printed sheet that promotes a larger work, such as a book. Propaganda broadsides were plastered on walls throughout the colonies during the War for Independence. The London Times distributed broadsides of famous British literary works to soldiers in the World War One trenches. The idea, it seems, was that a bloke absorbed in Shelley or Wordsworth would not notice he was being blown to bits.

Some publishers still print broadsides, mainly of poetry. I have some of those from David Romtvedt and Bill Tremblay, among others. They usually are printed in support of a collection. Flash fiction is suited for broadsides but I don't know if that is a thing or not.

I received a broadside from University of Minnesota Press promoting Sheila Watt-Cloutier's book "The Right to be Cold: One Woman's Fight to Protect the Arctic and Save the Planet from Climate Change." The broadside was a prize offered to like UM Press on Facebook. I liked and I received. See the image above.

This broadside did its job. I did not know Watt-Cloutier's work until the envelope landed in my mailbox. She writes about climate change from an Inuit's point of view. The Arctic nation is almost invisible to us in The Lower 48. My knowledge of people in the Arctic centers around the term "eskimo" and all that it entails: igloos, kayaks, dog sleds, walrus-hunting, "Nanook of the North." My education on Arctic peoples comes mainly from 1950s-era National Geographic magazine which, as we all know now, was a very one-sided view of the world.

I plan on reading Watt-Cloutier's book. I will order it from UM Press. I looked through its catalog and was impressed by the scope of its publications. It includes works on an array of topics, focusing on the culture of the upper Midwest. I know as much as that region as I do about the arctic, although I have walked the intriguing streets of Minneapolis and read a number of books from excellent Twin Cities publishers Graywolf, Coffee House, and Milkweed. 

I watched a TED talk by the author. I read one of the author's postings on the UM Press blog and watched one of her TED talks. She made me see the effects of global warming on humans. We hear a lot about the effect of rising sea levels on coastal populations. When it comes to the Circumpolar Region, we hear more about polar bears than we do about the humans who have lived there for centuries. I live in a high dry climate, albeit one that will be affected by shorter winters. This will impact outdoor recreation and hunting and all of those people that depend on those for their livelihoods. But the Inuit need solid ice for their hunts. As the author says, they risk drowning by falling through the ice that once was solid beneath their feet. And efforts of environmental groups have affected their lives in real ways. It's easy for a city boy in Cheyenne to support bans on seal hunting thousands of miles away. If fact, it's easy for this non-hunter city boy to cast aspersions on hunters of the deer and antelope I see as I travel Wyoming. 

In the days of sailing ships, a naval broadside was meant to get the attention of and possibly demolish another ship. A printed broadside is meant to get your attention and educate you in the process.

This one did its work.

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