The Wide Open


The Wide Open

Prose, Poetry, and Photographs of the Prairie

Edited by Annick Smith and Susan O'Connor
Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie, Photo Editors

198 pages
32 photographs


September 2008


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

It is hard to love the high, cold plains of the American West. They are vast and harsh and demanding. And perhaps because they are so hard to love, prairies challenge the imaginative mind and the adventurous heart. The Wide Open reveals how some of the most interesting and accomplished writers and photographers in the country have met that challenge and given the genius of the prairie a vision and a voice. Their stories are as diverse as the tellers, ranging from fiction by Barry Lopez, Richard Ford, and William Kittredge, to the childhood histories of Mary Clearman Blew and Judy Blunt and the nonfiction narratives of Jim Harrison, Gretel Ehrlich, and Rick Bass. There are works by Native American prairie dwellers such as M. L. Smoker and James Welch and the photographic interpretations of Lee Friedlander, Lois Conner, and Geoffrey James. Personal or poetic, journalistic or scientific, these works eloquently attest to the prairie’s abundance in all its human and natural variety, offering pictures as wide open and rich as the land they depict.

Author Bio

Annick Smith is the author of several books, most recently In This We Are Native: On Going Away and Coming Home and Homestead. She is coeditor of the Montana anthology The Last Best Place and an award-winning story writer.
Susan O’Connor, a philanthropist and arts advocate, is on the board of the American Prairie Foundation and is involved with other literary, environmental, and social justice nonprofit organizations. She lives in Missoula, Montana.
Contributors: Rick Bass, Mary Clearman Blew, Judy Blunt, Lois Conner, David James Duncan, Gretel Ehrlich, Dan Flores, Richard Ford, Lee Friedlander, James Galvin, Ian Glennie, Jim Harrison, Richard Hugo, Fredericka Hunter, Geoffrey James, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Richard Manning, Peter Matthiessen, Thomas McGuane, Susan O’Connor, Annick Smith, M. L. Smoker, Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, and James Welch.


"From the pens of writers such as Judy Blunt, Rick Bass, Thomas McGuane, Barry Lopez, Richard Ford, Gretel Ehrlich, Peter Matthiesen, Richard Hugo, and James Galvin and through the stark lenses of photographers Lee Friedlander, Lois Conner, and Geoffrey James, we deeply inhabit the American prairie, a seemingly immutable place of hard-scrabble ranches, rivers, bears, birds, and wolves—a land so patiently alive we might miss it."—Maurice Manning, Bookforum

"Smith and O'Connor have done an excellent job in putting this collection together. In the end they have in fact presented a literate portrait of the prairie and the animals and folks who cooperatively attempt to make it home."—Pete Warzel, Montana Quarterly

"A superb evocation of the prairie and its life."—ForeWord Magazine

"Using photographs, fiction, and nonfiction, the editors have skillfully assembled a complex portrayal of the West's high, dry, and cold plains into a beautiful book."—Orion

"The Wide Open is a beautiful memoir of the short-grass prairie of the northern Great Plains, which has channeled its voice through the writers and photographers found within the book."—Tom Wylie, Bloomsbury Review

"Annick Smith, an accomplished writer, and Susan O'Connor, philanthropist and arts advocate, have done an exceptional job compiling an essential anthology that celebrates the voice and spirit of the prairie. Anthologies can be hit or miss—this collection of poetry, prose, and photographs is right on the mark."—Jim Reese, Great Plains Quarterly

Table of Contents


Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs



Notes on the Photographs     

Ian Glennie


Part 1: Home on the Range

Mary Clearman Blew


Judy Blunt


James Welch

Excerpt from The Death of Jim Loney

James Galvin

No Bastion 

Thomas McGuane

A Foal     

M. L. Smoker

Grandfather Poem 

Letter to Richard Hugo (1)   



Jim Harrison

To a Meadowlark  


Lee Friedlander

Portfolio 1


Part 2: Hunting and Gathering

Barry Lopez

The Bear in the Road   

Rick Bass

Bird Hunter

David James Duncan

Four Excerpts from the Novella "What the Prairie Has To Say about Fly Fishing"     

William Kittredge

Far Point  

Gretel Ehrlich

A Summer Journal 


Lois Conner

Portfolio 2


Part 3: Travels across the Plains

Jim Harrison

Don't Fence Me In

Annick Smith

Excerpt from "Crossing the Plains with Bruno"  

Richard Ford



Geoffrey James

Portfolio 3


Part 4: Natural History

Dan Flores

An Entire Heaven and an Entire Earth     

Peter Matthiessen

Excerpt from "Plains, Prairies, and the Shining Mountains" 

Richard Manning

Instructions from a Misanthrope's Paradise     

Richard Hugo

Driving Montana  


High Grass Prairie     

Bear Paw   


Source Acknowledgments 




Gold Winner of the 2008 Book of the Year Award - Anthology Category, sponsored by ForeWord Magazine
Finalist for the 2009 High Plains Book Award - Nonfiction and Zonta Best Woman Writer Categories

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