"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling."
The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."
Twenty-five Latina agents of change share their inspirational stories.
Celebrated Latina civil rights activist Dolores Huerta once said, “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” These are the stories of some of the Latina activists from Wisconsin who have lived Huerta’s words. Somos Latinas shares the powerful narratives of 25 activists—from outspoken demonstrators to collaborative community-builders to determined individuals working for change behind the scenes—providing proof of the long-standing legacy of Latina activism throughout Wisconsin.
Somos Latinas draws on activist interviews conducted as part of the Somos Latinas Digital History Project, housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and looks deep into the life and passion of each woman. Though Latinas have a rich history of community activism in the state and throughout the country, their stories often go uncelebrated. Somos Latinas is essential reading for scholars, historians, activists, and anyone curious about how everyday citizens can effect change in their communities.