“Dirt: A Love Story,” edited by Utah author Barbara Richardson, is a collection of 36 short essays written by and for Earth lovers.
Dirt, soil, earth — whatever they call it — each author’s experience with and relationship to dirt is unique, yet, the common thread of each author’s delight in the earth and its gifts ties the book together.
The contributors, including Vandana Shiva, Peter Heller, Janisse Ray, Linda Hogan, David R. Montgomery, Laura Pritchett and Deborah Koons Garcia come from disparate occupations — writers, artists, architects, film-makers, scientists and farmers — but are all dirt lovers.
From worms to dirt houses, mud pies and soil science, the essayists reflect on their relationship with dirt in formats that include a glossary, an interview, poetry and prose. Who knew dirt could be a topic of such fascinating diversity?
A foreword written by writer Pam Houston precedes the five sections dividing the book into topics: “Land Centered,” “Kid Stuff,” “Dirt Worship,” “Dirt Facts” and “Native Soil.” Each section begins with a photo of dirt and a short quotation like this one by Lisa Jones prefacing the “Dirt Worship” section: “Kids and rugby players and cowgirls all roll in the dirt — they’re just trying to get that motherly feeling on them.”
The collection concludes with an essay by organic farmer Atina Diffley. Her final statement sums up one of the book’s messages: “Eating in the present is a relationship with the past. Our daily relationship with soil dictates our wellness and determines the future. Eat, relate and advocate for the soil that feeds you.”
There is no swearing, other foul language or described violence. A couple of essays contain brief sexual innuendo comparing the Earth to a woman.
Among other publications, Richardson is the author of “Tributary,” which won the 2013 Utah Book Award in the fiction category. She lives in Kamas, Utah.
Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street in Springville, Utah. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at dramaticdimensions.com.