Gosh, it’s challenging to write about a magazine for which I have utmost respect. Camas has been in publication since 1992, a vision created by Environmental Studies graduate students at the University of Montana. Their primary goal is to celebrate the land of the American West, the land that connects us all. Another goal is to honor cultural resilience. They hold publishing space for both emerging and established voices.
So I was over the moon to learn my poem, “Awaiting Burial,” was accepted for this winter issue exploring the theme of decay. It’s also not lost on me that Alaskan poet and former faculty member of the UAA MFA program, Eva Saulitis, has also walked among these pages.
I leave you with the blog announcement introducing this latest issue because editors generally say it best about a given issue.
From the Camas blog:
Decay. De-cay. /dəˈkā/
Verb: rot or decompose through the action of bacteria and fungi.
Noun: the state or process of rotting or decomposition.
The theme “Decay” may sound grim, but unsurprisingly, the talented writers and artists
Decay evokes startling imagery—the writers, photographers and artists didn’t shy away from the occasional grotesque images. “Skulls and Moths” by Kathy Bruce illustrates two animal skulls in the process of being treated in a water-bleach solution. Moths and leaves on the surface of the water add an accidental artistry to the image of the waterlogged skin peeling away from bone. The artist described this process by saying, “the effect is often mysterious and ethereal.”
Chris La Tray, our featured writer for this issue, invites readers into a midnight rumination on both the seriousness and lightheartedness of death in his essay, “Back to the Mud: or, Melodramatic Thoughts on Death and Decay.”
La Tray is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. His book “One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large” (Riverfeet Press) won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award. His next book will be published by Milkweed Editions in Spring 2021. La Tray can also be found at Missoula’s favorite community bookstore Fact & Fiction.
Kitty Galloway’s nonfiction essay “Crossings” examines the effects—physical and psychological—of the roadways that cut across our landscapes. Her essay is paired with “Iguanot” by Chris Daley, an image of a lizard that has been flattened on the roadway.
One fiction piece “Volumes” by Natalie Storey is set in modern rural Montana, and uses gritty realism in combination with artistic fantasy. In contrast, “On Speaking Terms” by B.A. Van Sise is set amid the backdrop of high-society, mid-century New York City. Both pieces are compelling in communicating the theme of decay in ways that makes them feel like natural companions despite the difference in time and setting.
Poetry in this issue ranges from verses honoring the dead body of a raven in “Awaiting Burial” by Kersten Christianson to a microscopic look at dead skin cells in “Marauders All” by Jan Harris.
Join us for the magazine release this Friday, December 6th from 6-8 p.m. at Imagination Brewery. Copies of the magazine are available for $8.50 for purchase.