Altered, and Alive

I recently returned from a walk to find in my mailbox a fat little U.S. Mail packet from the Whitefish Review. Not only did it contain the latest issue (a treat at any time), it had a few extras too: my contributor copies.

Tara with contributor copies of Our Living Planet, having a very uncool moment of squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Moment of Squee

Those words feel pretty wild to write, and it’s an even more surreal sensation to look at my own words printed on the page — right next to a wonderful poem by Chris Dombrowski, and following a fascinating interview with National Geographic’s Chris Johns. There’s so much more here, too, including Rick Bass’ picks for this year’s Montana fiction award. I can’t wait.

If you don’t have a subscription, you can find a copy at several excellent bookstores, and probably also libraries, across the West. WR will send you one direct, if you prefer*. It’s a beautiful little book, both form and content. It feels good in your hands. And it smells delicious.**

The present issue is Our Living Planet***. Every piece it contains addresses, in the introductory words of editor-in-chief Brian Schott:

“…how we honor, celebrate, and fight for our planet. How do we love a broken being and rejoice in its beauty, even in the face of epic loss and uncertainty?”

What answer would you make to that powerful question? How do you respond — or want to start responding — with your daily life?

My contribution discusses shorebirds, growing up on military bases, and the complexities of national — as well as personal — power and identity. I’d be honored if you find the time to read it, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, too.

It’s such a crucial conversation, and one I think we can engage in with great joy, even when it’s also difficult, maybe discouraging. I read some words recently in a different publication that speak so powerfully to this difficulty, and our right role in wrestling with it:

“It is ok to be confused. It is ok to be small. It is ok not to know what to do. Really, the only thing that is not ok is turning away.”

-Paul Kingsnorth, Life versus the Machine, in Orion Magazine, Winter 2018
Title page for Altered, and Alive: "I'm still learning how to look where no one is pointing."


*If you’re local, or you’re not but you ask sooner than later, I will happily bring or send you a copy. At the moment of writing, I find myself in possession of three extras.

**A very important attribute of a good book

***It’s #23. My lucky number.

9 thoughts on “Altered, and Alive

  1. The question “How do we love a broken being and rejoice in its beauty, even in the face of epic loss and uncertainty?” seems to be as much about our own lives as it is about the earth — that is, we still don’t do very well with death or loss or change on the human scale, much less the planetary one.

    Also, I loved this interview between climate writer David Wallace-Wells and a seven-year-old: I feel like the whole world needs to hear this message, in exactly this context.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats, Tara!!! This is awesome. I submitted also and was actually thrilled to receive my first encouraging, personalized rejection letter. :) I obviously submitted in very good company. I need to order to read all the pieces! Cheers, Heather

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m very excited indeeed.

      I’d be happy to send you one of mine if you like. They gave me extra copies. You probably don’t want to drop your address publicly, but you can email me through the About page.


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