The Death’s Garden Revisited call for submissions
by Loren Rhoads
Twenty years ago, I was given a box of miscellaneous cemetery photos. They had been taken by my best friend’s husband over the course of his travels around the Americas. Blair was 28 years old and dying of AIDS. He wanted to know his photos had a good home.
I decided to put together a book that would feature those photos. Initially, I was going to write all the text, but as I talked to people about the project, everyone seemed to have a cemetery story to tell.
The book title expanded from Death’s Garden to Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries. I was thrilled to discover that people I knew — even complete strangers — all had a graveyard they’d connected with. Whether it be because a family member was buried there, visited it on vacation, grown up in a house near it, or for a whole bouquet of other reasons.
The contributors varied from people I met through zine publishing, a ceramics professor at Ohio State University, authors for the LA Weekly, professional artists, photographers, underground musicians, depressed high school girls, and punk rock diva Lydia Lunch. As the book came together, Death’s Garden blew away my expectations.
The initial print ran of 1,000 copies and sold out 18 months. I only asked for one-time rights to use everyone’s contributions, so I couldn’t republish it. Once the books were gone, that was it.
As the years passed, I’ve lost track of many of the contributors. Some are dead and have a different relationship with cemeteries now. Others have sunk into the anonymity of a pseudonym on the internet.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to assemble a second volume of Death’s Garden. I think there are a lot more stories to be told about relationships people have formed with graveyards. For instance, what’s it like to be a tour guide? How are cemetery weddings different than others? What’s the strangest cemetery you’ve ever visited, or the most beautiful, or the spookiest?
This is open to anyone who has visited a cemetery where something special happened, either good or bad. Tell me about your relationship with a cemetery. I’d like to publish it on CemeteryTravel.com.
What I’m looking for:
- personal essays that focus on a single cemetery
- preferably with pictures
- under 1500 words (totally negotiable, but the limit is something to shoot for)
- descriptive writing
- characterization, dialogue, tension: all the tools you’d use to tell a story
- but this MUST be true — and it must have happened to you!
Reprints are fine. If you’ve written something lovely on your blog and wouldn’t mind it reaching the couple thousand people who subscribe to Cemetery Travel, let me know.
If I accept your essay for publication on Cemetery Travel, be warned: I may do some light editing, with your permission.
Also, I’ll need:
- a bio of 50-100 words
- a photo of you
- a link to your blog or book
- links to your social media sites, so people can follow you.
Finally, if — as I hope — this project progresses to becoming a legitimate book, I will contact you with a contract and offer of payment. Stay tuned!
Send your essay to me at firstname.lastname@example.org