In Drought Time
this book, because, like the editors, I too appreciate the project.
Many of us who grew up in small towns remember them with a certain nostalgia, even when we also remember the urge to flee. But few of us ever leave home entirely: the small town still defines us in an inescapable way. People who moved there from larger places share the nostalgia, although they often don't understand the need some of us had to escape. The editors of In Drought Time have done a good job representing the various nostalgias and have selected both works that celebrate these places (for the most part places in western Washtenaw County) and those that have an unmistakable edge.
The book includes some poetry by well-known writers (Laura Kasischke, Thomas Lynch, Richard Tillinghast, songwriter Jay Stielstra, and others), but most of the work is by lesser-known people, some publishing for the first time. The book is lovingly illustrated by more than twenty artists, most of them local. There are several examples from Laura Strowe, whose exquisite renderings of houses and backyards are familiar to many from her Observer cover paintings. Washtenaw Community College art instructor Elaine Wilson has several landscapes from the western part of the county, including some that exploit the iconic nature of silos. The editors and the publisher have spent the time and money necessary to reproduce these paintings very well. The colors are deep and rich, even when the reproductions are only a couple of inches square.