RISE is an anthology penned by the Northern Colorado Writers collective featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry centered around the idea of rising above challenges and triumphing against the odds.
In the opening nonfiction piece, “Follow the Hula Girl,” writer Becky Jensen chronicles her journey hiking the Colorado Trail to scatter her father’s ashes soon after his death. It is an exhausting trek, exacerbated by her personal anguish, but the author eschews an overly simplistic or sentimental interpretation of her story in favor of raw emotional truth. She is climbing her way toward acceptance, rising from the phoenix of the ashes of her grief, but the way she narrates her pain insightfully defies trite symbolic interpretation.
The hilarious short story “The Potato Salad War” by Cindra Spencer focuses on a woman battling for epicurean supremacy with her son’s mother-in-law. The woman’s account becomes increasingly absurd as she recalls a series of family get-togethers in which she believes she was intentionally undermined by her rival, culminating in an assertion that this woman was plotting to murder her husband. Spencer’s characterization is delightfully batty and her protagonist’s cutting remarks are unfailingly memorable. She declares, for example, “I knew Ed was Irene’s second husband, and of course anyone could get one of those.”
Writer Billie Holliday Skelley presents a devastating account of the aftermath of the EF-5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011 that doubles as a heartening example of how people come together to help one another after a tragedy. Poet Megan E. Freeman shares a poignant ode to body positivity and accepting, even appreciating one’s flaws: “the most beautiful parts/ of my body/ are the broken puzzle pieces/
jumbled/ in the column of my core.”
RISE is filled with beautiful descriptions of the natural world, often used for symbolic purposes related to the book’s principal theme. Jaclyn Fowler writes in her nonfiction piece “The Other Day I Found a Penny in the Street” (set in the United Arab Emirates), “As the moon glitters on the Gulf, its twinkling, twirling, almost amorphous light snakes its way from bank to bank and back again, indulging a little before its banishment with the coming of the sun’s first rays.” As this passage demonstrates, even the nonfiction selections often read like poetry.
Spanning numerous genres and capturing a diverse range of experiences, RISE offers something for everyone. The collection is elevated by the exceptional quality of the writing and the authors’ authenticity and creative approach to the inspirational theme.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader