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, either because a family member was buried there, or because they’d visited it on vacation, or because they’d 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 to a ceramics professor at Ohio State University, writers for the LA Weekly, professional artists and 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 run of 1000 copies sold out 18 months after my husband and I put it together for our publishing company. I’d only asked for one-time rights to use everyone’s contributions, so I couldn’t republish it. Once it was gone, it was gone.
As the years passed, I’ve lost track of many of the contributors. Some are dead and have a different relationship with cemeteries altogether 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?
Eventually, I’d like to put these new essays into a physical book, but for now, I’d like to kick off a new feature on Cemetery Travel. This feature is open to anyone who has ever 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 accepted. 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!
In the meantime, here are some links to the original Death’s Garden:
- My introduction to the first book
- the list of contributors
- Excerpts from some of the essays from the first book
Reviews of the original Death’s Garden:
“This impressive book is so striking that, upon opening its binding, one is hard pressed not to be moved by its contents. With every perusal, the reader finds another thing to think about.” — Carpe Noctem
“Death’s Garden is an anthology of cemetery tours from all around the world, well-photographed, and smart enough to know it’s not the where and when of certain burial grounds that intrigues us, it’s the why as well. There’s a certain joy about Death’s Garden which is hard to pin down; the sense that just as no two graveyards are the same, no two burial beliefs are the same, either.” — Alternative Press
“The photographers and writers relay their thoughts on the relationship between the living and the dead, creating a feast for the eyes and senses. Death’s Garden goes a long way in showing just what these residences of the dead have to offer to those of us that are still among the living.” — Maximum Rock N Roll