Telling it Real: The Best of Pilgrimage Magazine 2003-2008
Edited by Peter Anderson
Pilgrimage Press, 2009

In the world of environmental literature, there are only a handful of steadfast publications — those you know you can turn to for excellent literary work in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, as well as enticing artwork. They work in part because of the strength of the editing team, in part because of the array of contributors, and in part because they speak to place. Pilgrimage Magazine, a small journal located in Colorado, is one such journal.

“I believe in the power of stories,” says former Pilgrimage editor Peter Anderson, “stories from the world’s great wisdom traditions; stories that help us to know home and place; stories that speak to the social justice issues of our time; stories that invite reflection; stories that can open, heal, and empower us; the kinds of stories that once led poet Robert Bly to describe Pilgrimage as ‘one of the finest journals in America.'”

Anderson’s last move before stepping back from his editing role at Pilgrimage was to assemble Telling it Real: The Best of Pilgrimage Magazine 2003-2008, and as you might imagine the collection sings. (Disclaimer: editor Simmons B. Buntin has an essay in the collection, “Ben’s Bells,” so he’s biased — but if you spend any time at all with this collection, you’ll acknowledge his bias is right on.)

Telling it Real is introduced by Peter Anderson and then divided into four sections: Story, Place, Spirit, and Witness. At first, you might think: Well, where are all the leading environmental writers? There’s no Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, or Alison Hawthorne Deming, for example. The writers mostly represent the American Southwest, and they represent it beautifully. They are, perhaps, lesser-known, and yet their work — like the anthology itself — is strong and image-filled and built on a passion for and sturdy relationship with the natural world. They include Kim Stafford, Rick Kempa, Pamela Uschuk, William Pitt Root, Reyes Garcia, Maria Melendez, William Stimson, and others.

Telling it Real can be difficult to locate — it’s not on, for example. But you can get it right here:

And we recommend you do.

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