Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West

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9780618249336: Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West
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Crazy Woman Creek is a collection of prose and poetry about real women in the West and their connection to a larger whole. Long troubled by the misguided images of skinny cowgirls on prancing palominos, the editors embarked on a mission to set the record straight. They wanted these western women to reveal the realities of their lives in their own words.
In Crazy Woman Creek, 153 women west of the Mississippi write of the ways they shape and sustain their communities. Whether these groups are organized, imposed, or spontaneous, this collection shows that where women gather, anything is possible. Readers will encounter Buddhists in Nebraska, Hutterites in South Dakota, rodeo moms rather than soccer moms. A woman chooses horse work over housework; neighbors pull together to fight a raging wildfire; a woman rides a donkey across Colorado to raise money after the tragedy at Columbine. Women recall harmony found at a drugstore, at a powwow, in a sewing circle. Lively, heartfelt, urgent, enduring, Crazy Woman Creek celebrates community — connections built or strengthened by women that unveil a new West.

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About the Author:

LINDA HASSELSTROM is the author of many highly acclaimed books of nonfiction and poetry and the coeditor of Leaning into the Wind and Woven on the Wind. She divides her time between Wyoming and South Dakota.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction: Beyond Crazy Woman Creek "We celebrate community and stories." Jane Kirkpatrick One hot day not long ago, the three editors of this collection were bouncing along a two-lane highway between Recluse and Story, Wyoming. One of us was driving; we all own beat-up SUVs with enough cargo space to haul the boxes of books and fliers we take to readings. The windows were down, so we inhaled the zest of sagebrush and tasted the difference in dust from plateaus or creek bottoms. Two of us visited in front while the third, nesting among our luggage in the back seat, leaned forward to make remarks. The tires rumbled as we crossed a bridge. "Crazy Woman Creek," one of us snarled. "Why isn't it ever Samantha Wilson Creek?" "Or," said the beautiful and brilliant editor, "Wonderful Woman Creek?" "Or even," said the serious one, "First Woman Doctor Creek." "Strangers must think all the memorable women in the Old West were nuts," said the cynical one, "or prostitutes like Mother Featherlegs." "Or nameless," said the thoughtful one. "And what does that tell you about the men who did the naming?" "My home state was just full of places with "squaw" in the name until pretty recently," said the one from South Dakota. "And Wyoming still has those little sharp-pointed hills called Maggie's Nipples," said the one who collects maps. "Squaw Hill, Old Woman Creek, Crazy Mountains," mumbled somebody from the back seat. "Is anything important named after ordinary women?" said the exlibrarian. "Like rivers or mountains? Are there any memorials to women homesteaders?" "I guess you could count the Tetons," said the one who shoots a muzzle loader, "thanks to some lonely French fur trapper; they never looked like breasts to me." "My grandmother," mentioned the oldest one, "always said a decent woman's name appeared in public only three times: at birth, at her marriage, and at her death. I guess our tombstones are supposed to be our monuments." "The good news is, we have to die first," snapped the grouchy one. "What knits us are the rhythms of our female lives." Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer Nearly everyone has a favorite, and different, image of the West, where myth and reality gallop into the same sunset. Maybe you had to be crazy to settle here, especially if you were a woman. Both legend and history record extremes in temperature, elevation, snowfall, drought, fire, and flood. Lyric and chronicle celebrate courage and cowardice, profusion and famine, beauty and monotony, peace and lawlessness. Pioneers heading west from Europe or the Eastern states were often called lunatics by their relatives. Conflict and change are inherent in the West, though Westerners are perceived to be mostly honest, hard-working, independent lovers of freedom, who are tough or tender, depending on the need. Westerners are renowned for building friendly settlements in the middle of hardship. This book stands solidly on a tradition that cherishes paradox. The editors of Crazy Woman Creek think women furnished more to the Western character than their labor feeding campfires and rearing children. So why weren't more mountains, statues, or government buildings named for women? Perhaps Westerners thought anyone could do women's work, and maybe some of us accepted that judgment. The contrary West has always had room for both the minister's wife and the mistress; sometimes they worked together toward a common goal. And maybe naming features of the landscape after shady ladies is further evidence of the puzzle that is the West. Many modern Western women, including some of the writers of this collection, still live remote from what passes for modern civilization, but they are also part of a cooperative community. Like their foremothers, they work hard, respect themselves, and can laugh at their mistakes. They may burst into song in the middle of a cattle drive or turn the air blue with curses while fixing a flat tire. Outrageous behavior may be the key to survival; our history sparkles with tales of women who prevailed because they were unpredictable enough to outsmart the bad guys. Westerners have always admired these crazy women, knowing that every good idea was once considered mad. Near my home, a statue celebrates Esther Hobart Morris, the first woman judge in America. Wyoming was still a territory when Esther joined a group of women who had the outrageous idea that they should be able to vote and hold public office; woman suffrage passed here in 1869. Still, modern Western women are tired of being nameless. Crazy Woman Creek presents ordinary women from west of the Mississippi River telling personaland truestories about their connections to the rest of the world. The writers in these pages accept some traditional Western views and renounce others. Carving their own images on the land in deed, word, and thought, they are rewriting history for all of us. "We are most aware of the inevitable tug of time." Sarah Byrn Rickman This collection of writing by contemporary Western women is a conversation in prose and poetry for readers and writers. Modern Western women keep house, do outside chores, haul children and horses to 4-H meetings and rodeos. They learned from their mothers and grandmothers, but they are also absorbing new ideas: how to hold a job in town, or travel the Internet as well as gravel roads. Their work has rarely been acknowledged publicly or permanently. A bawdy-house madam was more likely to be remembered in myth and on maps than an ordinary housewife, but both were overshadowed by male adventurers who wrote the history books. This book is one way to recognize the ways women have shaped and sustained Western communities and contributed, sometimes silently, to the true legacy of the West. Crazy Woman Creek also portrays the new story we are writing, as strangers move West to inhabit the land differently. As a contributor to this volume notes, "What each of these groups can't see is that at the core, they . . . love the same place and want the same thing." (Unless otherwise credited, quotations in this introduction are from contributors" writing in Crazy Woman Creek.) We may not always realize or acknowledge the likeness, but each individual is linked to every other by similar experiences, interests, attitudes, and beliefs. A crisis may bring us together, but it is easy to forget those bonds when our opinions clash. These days, "the natives . . . are a little bitter" toward "the newcomers, "those damn environmentalists."" Old- timers wonder, sometimes in loud outrage, what will happen to the neighborhoods we have cherished. We are afraid that as the places change, we will lose the values we esteemhonesty, friendliness, self-sufficiency, moral courage. The Native Americans probably said the same things as immigrant wagons rumbled across the buffalo grassyet the descendants of people who bickered and brawled in different languages are now accepted as native Westerners. We think the true stories in Crazy Woman Creek will continue to inspire intelligent conversations about community. In the Old West, both men and women sometimes used force to get their way. Though we favor peaceful negotiation, we don't want to forget those tough old broads rudely memorialized in our place-names. Moving beyond Crazy Woman Creek doesn't mean forgetting their legacy. We'll offer new neighbors coffee and banana bread. But if some newcomer doesn't think the name Maggie's Nipples is politically correct, we might resist changing the name to Margaret's Mammaries. "Until we find meaning in the stories of our lives, we're destined to wander in the wilderness, even though we're in a promised land." Jane Kirkpatrick We three editors have known one another for more than twenty years. Collecting writing by Western women in two previous anthologies taught us that "we could count on each other," and working together has made us friends. Gaydell, a librarian before she retired, writes and operates Backpocket Books from a small ranch near Sundance. Nancy helps manage the family ranch near Glendo and directs High Plains Press, publishing books about Wyoming and the West. Linda lives in Cheyenne and owns a South Dakota ranch where she conducts writing retreats for women. All three of the anthologies we have edited together, including Crazy Woman Creek, grew out of the Western landscape and the women who inhabit it. During the past decade, the editors have driven thousands of miles together, speculating about how each collection might develop, while discussing a zillion other topics. When we traveled to promote the books through readings and autograph parties, we inevitably came home feeling invigorated. Our first partnership grew out of conversations about strong women who helped form the Western communities where we grew up. We encouraged women from six Western states to tell us how they survived in troubled times. Though we'd heard these stories all our lives, we weren't sure women would reveal them to readers who live mostly in cities. Would urban dwellers appreciate these Western truths? Western women sent a stack of submissions taller than any of us, proving that the tough, shrewd women of the real West aren't all in cemeteries as hard to find as the Mother Featherlegs Monument. (Yes, she was probably a prostitute. Local cowboys nicknamed her for the lacy red pantaloons she wore tied at the ankles when she rode her horse to town, but they seemed to respect her for her grit rather than her profession.) Teamwork created Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West. Making our selections on the basis of authenticity and quality, we chose 246 essays and poems contributed by 206 women. Some of them had never before written for publication, but they wereahcrazy enough to trust us. Thousands of books sold before the official publication date, thereby demonstrating that we'd found readers as well as writers. The publication party at Devils Tower, Wyoming, in June 1997 created legends. Mindy, an assistant editor for Houghton Mifflin, came from Boston a few days early to meet us, donned a Western hat, and staunchly ate Rocky Mo...

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Book Description Mariner Books, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Crazy Woman Creek is a collection of prose and poetry about real women in the West and their connection to a larger whole. Long troubled by the misguided images of skinny cowgirls on prancing palominos, the editors embarked on a mission to set the record straight. They wanted these western women to reveal the realities of their lives in their own words. In Crazy Woman Creek, 153 women west of the Mississippi write of the ways they shape and sustain their communities. Whether these groups are organized, imposed, or spontaneous, this collection shows that where women gather, anything is possible. Readers will encounter Buddhists in Nebraska, Hutterites in South Dakota, rodeo moms rather than soccer moms. A woman chooses horse work over housework; neighbors pull together to fight a raging wildfire; a woman rides a donkey across Colorado to raise money after the tragedy at Columbine. Women recall harmony found at a drugstore, at a powwow, in a sewing circle. Lively, heartfelt, urgent, enduring, Crazy Woman Creek celebrates community ? connections built or strengthened by women that unveil a new West. Seller Inventory # APC9780618249336

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Book Description Mariner Books, United States, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Crazy Woman Creek is a collection of prose and poetry about real women in the West and their connection to a larger whole. Long troubled by the misguided images of skinny cowgirls on prancing palominos, the editors embarked on a mission to set the record straight. They wanted these western women to reveal the realities of their lives in their own words. In Crazy Woman Creek, 153 women west of the Mississippi write of the ways they shape and sustain their communities. Whether these groups are organized, imposed, or spontaneous, this collection shows that where women gather, anything is possible. Readers will encounter Buddhists in Nebraska, Hutterites in South Dakota, rodeo moms rather than soccer moms. A woman chooses horse work over housework; neighbors pull together to fight a raging wildfire; a woman rides a donkey across Colorado to raise money after the tragedy at Columbine. Women recall harmony found at a drugstore, at a powwow, in a sewing circle. Lively, heartfelt, urgent, enduring, Crazy Woman Creek celebrates community ? connections built or strengthened by women that unveil a new West. Seller Inventory # APC9780618249336

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Book Description Mariner Books. Paperback. Condition: New. 336 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.0in. x 0.8in.Crazy Woman Creek is a collection of prose and poetry about real women in the West and their connection to a larger whole. Long troubled by the misguided images of skinny cowgirls on prancing palominos, the editors embarked on a mission to set the record straight. They wanted these western women to reveal the realities of their lives in their own words. In Crazy Woman Creek, 153 women west of the Mississippi write of the ways they shape and sustain their communities. Whether these groups are organized, imposed, or spontaneous, this collection shows that where women gather, anything is possible. Readers will encounter Buddhists in Nebraska, Hutterites in South Dakota, rodeo moms rather than soccer moms. A woman chooses horse work over housework; neighbors pull together to fight a raging wildfire; a woman rides a donkey across Colorado to raise money after the tragedy at Columbine. Women recall harmony found at a drugstore, at a powwow, in a sewing circle. Lively, heartfelt, urgent, enduring, Crazy Woman Creek celebrates community connections built or strengthened by women that unveil a new West. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780618249336

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