In 2008 I discovered a website called Ecotone, the national literary magazine of the same name from the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the concept of "Writing About Place".
As I wrote earlier this month:
"The first "place" related piece I wrote was actually in May 2002, my 2nd ever blog post.
"Writing about Place" can be defined not just as about a physical location but about something that occurs there, about what you did there, even about issues related to the location.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be "places".
The "place" can even be a virtual landscape such as the "Blogosphere".
In that blog post, earlier this month, I celebrated my years of writing such pieces and announced a new category archive for the topic.
This was all brought about by something I received in my email, on New Year's Eve.
That email and where it led me is what this post is about.
The original Ecotone blog was short-lived and the original website is no more. I lost track of both years ago but, unknown to me, I was still on their contact list of emails.
Their message was as follows:
"All of us at Ecotone are sending best wishes for 2017—and we'd love to share a little news with you too. We're about to relaunch our occasional newsletter, and we'd love to send it your way. We'll have subscription specials, calls for work, news from our sister imprint, Lookout Books, and more."
I signed up for the newsletter and have begun to explore their websites to see what I have been missing all these years.
Ecotone is produced by faculty and students in the MFA program at UNC Wilmington and describes its mission this way...
"to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today. Founded at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that reimagine place, and our authors interpret this charge expansively. An ecotone is a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities, containing the characteristic species of each. It is, therefore a place of danger or opportunity, a testing ground. The magazine explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.
Among Ecotone’s contributors are winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as MacArthur, Guggenheim, and NEA fellows. But we’re equally excited to honor new voices."
The award-winning magazine features "writing and art that reimagine place, and our authors interpret this charge expansively."
The main website allows one to read articles from 3 recent issues of the magazine, subscribe or shop for previous editions.
In January 2011 the department introduced its own publishing imprint, Lookout Books, with the intent to publish poetry, essays, debut novels and more related to Ecotone's purpose to write about place. As with the magazine UNCW creative writing students handle proofreading, copy editing, cover and interior design and marketing strategies.
The blog of Lookout Books and Ecotone Magazine began in the fall of 2010 and has a lot of interesting essays to explore.
One series of interest to me is an archive titled "What's your Ecotone?"
Lookout wanted to know from readers "about the landscapes, bodies, cultures you inhabit—about your places of overlap and complication in the world."
Such a survey sounds interesting to respond to, if only on my blog, so I will look out for them on the blog as I explore past posts.
The subject is "craft" -- "Craft shaped by place; place shaped by craft—how our inner and outer environments influence how, what, and why we create."
Sound like websites you'd want to explore?
****UPDATE - 3/27/17****
Recently I wrote a post about my life as a walker, just one of the methods I use to discover "places" to write about and photograph.
I have also found a new Camera Monopod Walking Stick, much better than my old one, seen in one of the above photos, and seen in photos in the walking post, and will debut it next month.
****UPDATE - 3/28/17****
I recently let Ecotone know of this blog post and received this very encouraging reply...
Managing Editor, Ecotone