Tuesday, December 13, 2016


post by Lynn

Generosity is the soul of writing. You write to give something. To yourself. To your reader. To God. You give thanks for having been given the words. You pray to be given words another day.
- Erica Jong 

 A cold night, a crowded room, soft light, attentive faces, and one microphone.

These were the components of the Launch Party for Watch My Rising: A Recovery Anthology, which was held last Wednesday night, December 7th, at the Asher Building in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

So much generosity in one evening, I can hardly tell it:

The generosity of the writers.

These are the kind souls who shared the stories and poems that make up Watch My Rising. Each labored over the words. Each drummed up the courage and honesty and chutzpa it takes to speak up about recovery and addiction. Each received a single copy of the anthology for their efforts. 

The generosity of the readers.

Aaron Holst, of Sheridan, Wyoming, who braved the winter roads to read his poem, “New Songs” and his story, “Shooting Star or Beacon?” to a mesmerized crowd.

Aaron Holst, of Sheridan, Wyoming reads "New Songs"
Darrah Perez, who made the long, snowy-road trek from the Wind River Reservation to Cheyenne—a 5 hour drive—to read her story, “The Answer Is in Loving Ourselves.” She also gave voice to “Homeland Security” by Margaret Smith-Braniff. The audience was awe-struck. You’d have to hear Darrah read/perform to fully understand.

Darrah Perez, of Ethete, Wyoming reads "The Answer Is in Loving Ourselves"
My husband, Mike Carlson, who read “The Pigeons of Lynn” by Paul Hostovsky and “Lost Gospel” by Jim Littwin. I kid you not when I say that he volunteered to be a reader—no arm-twisting on my part.

Judith Schulz, who read “To Give Thanks to Sweaty Palms” by P.F. Witte, “Should We Set a Place for Peggy?” by Kristina Cerise, and “Connoisseur” by Rebecca Taksel. Judy sings, writes and acts and I recruited her because I knew she would give life to the voices in those particular pieces. Several people I talked with after the reading raved about Judy’s delivery—all with one word in common: “Wow!”

Judy Schulz reads "Should We Set a Place for Peggy?" by Kristina Cerise
Leif Swanson, friend, and English professor at Laramie Community College, who lent his deep, calming voice to two poems: “Taking on Life” by Antonio Sanchez-Day and “The Gift I See” by Shane Ronel Crady. He also brought his LCCC composition class to the reading.

James Pringle, intern at Recover Wyoming, who read Pace Lawson’s story, “De-stigmatized.” This is not a short piece, but James did a masterful job at sharing it all without a glitch. He told me he was happy to do it, because Pace’s story was his favorite.

James Pringle reads "De-stigmatized" by Pace Lawso
The generosity of the audience.

First off, they came. Did I mention the cold night? (Windchill factor of 18 degrees Fahrenheit BELOW ZERO.) Icy streets? Mid-week during December? Yet come they did, some eighty people, many of whom had never attended a reading of this sort before. Friends, strangers, people in recovery and people who love writing. Even a woman who just happened to see the flyer at the Y and decided to come out.

They enjoyed the catered food (provided by De-Lish Catering) and gave the readers the gift of their rapt attention.

They bought copies of the anthology too. Many of them gave extra money, saying, “Use it for Recover Wyoming’s programs, or to buy copies of the anthology for treatment centers, prisons, etc.”

Anthology editor, Lynn Carlson, reads "With All Due Respect"
And they were generous with their praise of the anthology, and of the reading. They promised to spread the word about the book, and about the message: recovery is real. They wanted to know when the second edition is coming out.

Conversations around the room during the break and after the reading were full of exactly what this editor had always wished for: insight, concern for those who are still stuck in the cycle of addiction, desire to help, hope.

The generosity of the organizers.

Recover Wyoming staff and board, the Coffee Depot staff (who kept the warm beverages coming), United Way members... lots of folks contributed to pull this event off.

Writing is not a performance but a generosity.
- Brenda Ueland

All of the above: generous, thoughtful, caring folks. 

So a note to myself and all my writer friends in this season of giving:

Let us be generous with our words. We'll never know when the world needs them.


  1. How wonderful for you and Recover Wyoming to have so many fine readers reading so many fine works of art to so many brave people in your audience. It is a fine anthology, Lynn, and you should be proud of what you've accomplished with it.

    1. Thanks, Art. And thanks for buying a copy of the anthology too!

  2. It was a wonderful event, and I was glad I went. The pieces that were read were inspiring. Makes me look forward to reading the entire anthology.


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