If your pockets are deep, there are some exclusive rewards:
For $200, you could own both Death’s Garden Revisited, the new volume, and the original Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries, which has been out of print for 25 years.
For $500, you and four friends could come meet me in Colma, California for an afternoon of cemetery exploration. (This tier includes hardcovers of Death’s Garden Revisited for each of you.)
For a mere $10,000, I will fly to anywhere in the continental US to tour your local cemetery and give a lecture on cemetery travel. (This tier includes 10 hardcovers of Death’s Garden Revisited for you to keep or raffle off.)
Death’s Garden Revisited is an anthology of cemetery essays from genealogists and geocachers, tour guides and travelers, horror authors, ghost hunters, and pagan priestesses about why they visit cemeteries.
Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.
Editor Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and the death-positive memoir This Morbid Life. She was the editor of the award-winning Morbid Curiosity magazine.
Cemetery writers/Genealogists/Historians: Anne Born, Barbara Baird, Carrie Sessarego, Carole Tyrrell, Erika Mailman, J’aime Rubio, Jo Nell Huff, Joanne M. Austin, Rachelle Meilleur, Sharon Pajka, Trilby Plants
Morbid Curiosity contributors: Benjamin Scuglia, Brian Thomas, Chris LaMay-West, George Neville-Neil, M. Parfitt, Paul Stansfield, Rain Graves
Horror authors: A. M. Muffaz, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christine Sutton, Denise N. Tapscott, E. M. Markoff, Emerian Rich, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Francesca Maria, Greg Roensch, Mary Rajotte, Melodie Bolt, Priscilla Bettis, Rena Mason, Robert Holt, R. L. Merrill, Saraliza Anzaldua, Stephen Mark Rainey, Trish Wilson
In every conversation I have about cemeteries, in every interview, on every podcast, I get asked two questions. One is “What is your favorite cemetery?” On the surface, that’s a funny question, because its underpinning is the second question: “Why would anyone visit a cemetery?” Unspoken, usually, is the rest of the question, either “by choice?” or “on purpose?”
I’m not sure when Americans were taught that it’s weird or creepy or disrespectful to visit cemeteries, if you aren’t driving straight to the gravesite of someone you’re related to, saying a few words, and leaving as soon as you can. I’ve even had people ask me if it’s legal to visit a graveyard where you don’t have a family connection.
Promenading at Bonaventure. Vintage postcard with undivided back, pre-1907.
During the 19th century, people flocked to cemeteries. They took carriage rides through them. They strolled in the shade of world-class arboretums. They fed flocks of birds or picnicked or read poetry. They studied the statuary and read the epitaphs and considered visiting cemeteries part of a moral education.
Out of sheer curiosity, I’ve been asking all kinds of people why they visit cemeteries: genealogists and geocachers, tour guides and travelers, historians and teachers, bloggers and horror writers and people who’ve never written anything before but have a good story to tell.
I’ve collected their answers into a book called Death’s Garden Revisited: Personal Relationships with Cemeteries. It will be available for crowdfunding next Thursday, which will allow you to reserve a copy before it’s published in October — and to help fund full-color photos to illustrate each story.
You can click on the image below to be taken to the Death’s Garden Revisited pre-launch page on Kickstarter. There you’ll see a button that says “Notify me on launch.” If you click on that, Kickstarter will send you an email on March 17, the day the campaign goes live.
Almost 30 years ago, I received 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 to feature Blair’s photos. I planned initially to write all the text, but as I talked to people about the project, everyone seemed to have a cemetery story they were eager to tell.
The book title expanded from Death’s Garden to Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries. I was thrilled to discover that people — people I knew, even complete strangers — all had a graveyard they’d connected with, either because family members were 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 zines to a ceramics professor at Ohio State University, writers for the LA Weekly, professional artists and photographers, underground musicians, depressed high school girls, and most incredibly, punk rock diva Lydia Lunch, who provided some glorious photos. As the book came together, Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries blew away my expectations.
The initial print run of 1000 copies sold out 18 months after the book came out. I’d only asked for one-time rights to use everyone’s contributions, so I couldn’t republish it. Once the books were gone, Death’s Garden went out of print.
Over the years, 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.
Marilyn’s lipstick-pink marble
Seven years ago, I did a project on this blog where I invited people to tell stories about a cemetery to which they had connected. The stories ranged from falling in love in a cemetery to exploring vacation sites, from leading cemetery tours to visiting family members’ graves, from pilgrimages to famous graves to rediscovering the forgotten and alone.
At this moment, I am in the process of assembling a sequel to that original Death’s Garden book. Like the first book, Death’s Garden Revisited will explore all the different ways people relate to cemeteries: through family ties, as sites of history or settings for one-of-a-kind artwork, whether pursuing genealogy or paying respects at famous people’s resting places.
I’m thrilled by how the book is coming together so far. Stay tuned to this blog for the announcement of the Table of Contents and cover artist!
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.
Morrison monument in Glenwood Cemetery, Flint – taken by Loren Rhoads
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)
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:
Excerpts from some of the essays from the first book
Reviews of the original Death’s Garden:
Turner monument at Glenwood Cemetery, taken by Loren
“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
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