BoomerLitMag grew out of a conversation between two long-time friends. We’d both been writing for many years amid other busy careers. We’d both been published in national literary journals and won awards.
Thanks to the internet and the technologies for independent publishing, we decided to send our work out into the world independently, just as musicians have been producing their own albums for a long time. We began with house party readings, combining poetry with story and music. As things developed, though, BoomerLitMag emerged from those readings less as a way to get our work out than to create opportunities for others to share their ideas and works.
What about the name? Because our writing reflects not just our time of life but the historical and cultural time in which we came of age, our most natural audience is other Boomers. This is not necessarily to say that younger readers would not follow or care. “Come One, Come All” is our attitude, but we are Boomers.
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Back, yeh, way back in fourth grade—I wrote my first poem or at least the first one that I remember. It was about Rome. I must’ve read it aloud because I still recall the start: “I’ll write a poem about Rome/It’s the capital of Italy you see/If you look on a map you’ll surely agree.” Catchy, eh? Maybe that opus was a better indicator I was a future marketer or publicist than a poet, but what’s interesting looking back is that I wrote a poem while other kids did maps and 50-word reports. Everyone’s work went on the wall with colored sheets of paper as backdrops. Cool.
In sixth grade I tried the same idea again, this time with a story instead of a report. The teacher made it clear, though, that my story on Alaska was well and fine, but if I wanted a passing grade I’d also have to do the factual and historical report like everyone else. I learned then that creative writing wasn’t the easy way out of actual study and work. Sigh.
Fast forward to college, where I resurrected my writing and by junior year was able to get into the creative writing class. The next semester I devised a one-on-one tutorial about poetry with the same prof, who happened to be buddies with future poet laureate W.S. Merwin. I was invited to lunch with Merwin along with the prof and a classmate who had begged me to join the tutorial. Merwin seemed surprised when we told him how his poetry worlds did amazing things with our brains. Though it was the hippie era, it wasn’t because of drugs. Even today, I’m just as amazed at what he’s still writing.
After that, my writing was quite sporadic until the late 80s. I had another renewal and won a Loft Mentor award, working with poets like John Haines, and then was published in a variety of regional, national, and international lit mags, including Centennial Review, Visions-International, The Journal, and Cimarron Review. One of my published poems was also chosen for a best of year anthology.
In the 90s, I became a regular on-air book reviewer for Minnesota Public Radio, managing to sneak in a couple of poetry book reviews a year when the hosts and directors weren’t noticing. Actually, they always noticed, rolled their eyes, but figured the segment would survive the occasional bit of poetry here in the land of Robert Bly.
Today, I continue to write and have become even more inspired now as co-editor of BoomerLitMag where I get first look at all the poetry. Welcome.
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Here I am with my partner Sandra, looking spiffier than usual.
For the last thirty years, I have made my living as a writer, teacher, storyteller, and editor. Over that time, I have published in places as different as Cricket Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Lake Street Review, Twin Cities Magazine, Loonfeather, Stiller’s Pond: New Fiction from the Upper Midwest, American Voices, Mpls-St.Paul Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, West Branch, and Blast Off.
Though I’ve edited two anthologies of writing by kids and written fiction and book-length nonfiction and poetry for children, my real passion is the adult short story and essay, which will be my main focus as co-editor of this magazine. My short stories have won both regional and national awards: the Lawrence Foundation Award for best story of the year in Prairie Schooner, the Reader’s Choice Award for a different story in the same magazine, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and a Loft Mentor Series Award.
I grew up in small towns and on farms in Pennsylvania, a fact that is reflected in my work. And I grew up, like other Boomers, in the midst of the Civil Rights and anti-war turmoil of the Sixties. Those times shaped me. Though my work is not really autobiographical, the ideas in the air and the experiences I lived during that era have a permanent place in my imagination.
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