“When I first saw it, when at last the bear of my girlhood unlocked itself from the stone shadows and I could see the fine frosted hairs of its crooked dog legs, I could not leave it.”
From forest fires to mountain lions, Ohio farm to Colorado cabin, violation to silence to reclamation, Kathryn Winograd draws keep attention to the details that braid her own history with that of the land on which she dwells, with her husband, daughters–anyone who has experienced loss and fought for renewal. Her collection of lyrical personal essays becomes a ring of concentric circles–one essay builds upon the next to achieve deeper meaning and truth, revealing, at the center, mercy.
Praise for Phantom Canyon:
“Kathryn Winograd’s Phantom Canyon is a compelling collection. Here is the lyric essay at its most perceptive and powerful. I admire the insight and intelligence of the essays, the magnetic and masterful drive of the language, and above all the aching honesty that infuses every page.”
–Robert Root, author of Happenstance and Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place
“In these lyric essays, Kathryn Winograd mines the ore of girl, daughter, mother, wife, and writer, wilding her selves against Colorado’s high country. The immediacy and traction Winograd gets by pinning herself to mountain place and women’s emotion, whether alive now or in memory, is breathtaking, at times, sublime. What a tough essayist–and tender voice–the West has been waiting for all these years, ever since the ancient ones first arrived.”
–Thomas Larson, author of The Sanctuary of Illness, The Saddest Music Ever Written and The Memoir and the Memoirist
“In Phantom Canyon Kathryn Winograd takes her place among America’s most celebrated writers—Thoreau and Annie Dillard come immediately to mind—who turn to the violence and beauty of nature to spark deeper understandings of the human community, and of the body and mind. Winograd adds to the mix her own insistence to confront even the most violent personal trauma—her own experience being raped as a child. For Kathryn Winograd the lyrical imagination, spiritual healing, and the love of beauty everywhere around us, come most fully alive only through recognizing also the harsher realities of the human condition. In a ‘long bow to the earth and to the fragile self,’ Winograd offers us the fullness and frailty of her own life, the natural world and the people she loves.”
–Stephen Haven, author of The Last Sacred Place in North America and The River Lock: One Boy’s Life along the Mohawk.
“To travel with the narrator across the twenty-three essays of Kathryn Winograd’s Phantom Canyon is to travel out of silence. We go with her as she returns to the farm in Ohio to confront the ghosts still swirling in the woods where she was raped as a girl of thirteen, and we return—always—to the sanctuary of the Colorado cabin she and her husband build together alongside Nipple Mountain. Along the way, these wide-ranging essays take us through stud farms and the Navajo Nation, into bathtubs and lion enclosures, down highways and deep into the forest.
Winograd finds the most unlikely containers for the most urgent subjects. How does one reconcile, in the natural world, science and faith? Eyes, mind, and heart wide open, Winograd shows us what she can hold in her hand—shotguns, bird eggs, mushroom spores—and tilts our chins up to study the night sky. Everything is here: botany and astrology, ornithology and ophthalmology, astrology and mythology—deep-digging geology. Everywhere, Winograd drills down, deeper into language, deeper into the earth, deeper into memory and the heart. She finds loneliness, fear, grief, and ultimately—transformation. Forgiveness. Grace.
The very best books invent their own genres and Winograd’s Phantom Canyon has done just that. The shimmering syntax, the metaphor, the way the patterned images add up to something that wasn’t there before—that’s the lyric. But there’s also a story here. Phantom Canyon is a page-turner, a collection of lyric essays you won’t be able to put down. As a writer, teacher, mother, daughter, and survivor, I needed this book. You do, too.”
–Jill Christman, author of Darkroom: A Family Exposure
About the Author:
Kathryn Winograd has been the recipient of a Colorado Book Award in Poetry for Air Into Breath, a Colorado Artist Fellowship, a Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute Associateship, and a Colorado Endowment for the Humanities Grant. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, received a Special Mention for Pushcart Prize XXXVIII, and a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011. She is the author of three teacher reference books, including Stepping Sideways Into Poetry (Scholastic). Her poetry chapbook, one bird tilted, is one of 22 semi-finalists out of 220 submissions for the Grayson Books Chapbook contest, Edwina Trentham, judge. (Decision pending.)
Winograd received her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Denver, and a M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She is a full time faculty member for Arapahoe Community College, where she directs the Writers Studio, and is on faculty for core poetry and nonfiction in Ashland University’s low residency MFA program in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction.Tags: books, creative non-fiction, essays, non-fiction, Winograd