Chris LaMay-West believes in the power of rock music, poetry, and cats. His work has appeared in numerous venues. A California native, Chris resides in Vermont, where he writes, works for a college, and lives with his wife, two cats, a dog, several chickens, and an unbelievable number of bunnies. You can learn more at https://chrislamaywest.com/.
Chris and I met many years ago at an open mic I hosted for Morbid Curiosity magazine. He wrote for the magazine several times, read at my events, and was really fun to get to know.
His story for Death’s Garden Revisited is about visiting Pension Mountain Cemetery in Berryville, Arkansas, where he has family buried and his grandfather served as caretaker.
What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?
Look for the oldest headstones and struggle to make out the faded legends.
Tell me about your favorite cemetery.
There are some amazing cemeteries in Boston: dates going back to the 1600s and people who you previously thought only existed in textbooks.
Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?
Yeats and Kerouac are high on my list.
If you have any choice, what would your epitaph be?
He tried to leave it better than he found it.
Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?
“Long Black Veil” comes to mind. You will, of course, not go wrong with the Cash version, but I’d like to also suggest the cover by The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash as well.
I had a lot of fun putting together a playlist of cemetery songs recommended by the Death’s Garden Revisited contributors. You can listen to it here.
I would also love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is available for preorder on Kickstarter for a few more days. This beautiful book will be full of 40 amazing essays about why visiting cemeteries is important. Check it out — and please consider ordering a copy for yourself: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries