Calling on all writers, age 18 and older, from Kenosha and Racine County. ArtRoot, a committee of artists and advocates, is accepting applications for a six-month tenure as Racine Writer-In-Residence. You can download application information and materials HERE. The person selected to receive this honor will serve from July 1-December 31, 2021 and receive a $1,200 stipend (75% upfront and 25% upon completion of expectations and an evaluation form.)
“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed,” says Iowa Bob in the novel, Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. Some lines stay with you. I read Irving’s novel forty years ago and still think of this phrase nearly every day. Obsessions – read: passionate interests – are the fuel of life.
don’t get around much anymore. That’s not just a song title or a result of the pandemic, it’s a fact of my life. Long-distance travel doesn’t suit me. I’ve tried to stuff my 6’3 frame into an airline’s economy class seat and found Houdini couldn’t escape from a space that tight. When my family would travel to Yellowstone or other spots when I was young, I was left behind in the care of my aunt. They did not want to be on a car ride with me then, and you don’t want me as a passenger with you today. It’s a good thing I’ve learned to bloom where I was planted: Kenosha, Wisconsin, the fourth largest city in our state, nestled on the shore of the second largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan.
In parochial grade school, circa 1967, Sister Margaret in her flowing black habit and veil, escorted my classmates and I every weekday to St. Mary Catholic Church in Kenosha to hear from Scripture and to sing hymns of our faith.
In the summer of ’94, I spent a week at a folk school in Door County, WI where on one morning I sat on a slab of limestone to contemplate a garden of wildflowers, while fellow students walked a nearby sawdust path through the woods to our classroom. One student, a woman named Rose, who was as old as the years accumulated thus far in that 20th century, paused in her parade to question me. “Are you a person?” she asked.
Where do you live? You might reside in the town where you were born or you may have moved around so much you’re not sure where you are anymore. You might have found a connection with a place in your travels that’s so strong it feels like home to you. If you’re a writer, artist, or a professional daydreamer, you probably live most of the time in your imagination.
My friend, composer Karel Suchy, calls it KeRacine, pronouncing the word, in his cool Czech accent, like you’d say, “ker-o-sene.” With this term, he’s referring to the Wisconsin cities of Kenosha and Racine, but it’s more than a mashup of names for him. He’s talking about a powerful energy, fueled by the the creative culture that burns bright here.
I’m convinced I was a border collie in another life. While I lack some attributes of this breed – agility, high energy, and intelligence – I share a common instinct for herding. Dogs may do it for the purpose of providing protection; I do it when I dream up projects and need people to turn them into reality.