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Advantage, Those Who Read

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining on the thick drifts of snow we got last weekend, and my old dog, Clio, my companion for the past fifteen years, sleeps beside my desk as I think about winter, and spring. I’ve not yet embraced winter activities beyond shoveling the sidewalk. I find it hard to bundle up and go outdoors when it’s below zero, as it is this morning. Winter, for me, means more time at home with Clio, and more time reading books, which is a nice segue into this special double issue of the magazine. And it has been a special issue to put together. In these pages we highlight writers, books, and reading. Nickolas Butler introduces Nicholas Gulig, his friend and our new poet laureate. Kim Suhr takes a look at the state of book publishing in Wisconsin, and we review five new books worth checking out.

This issue has by design a literary bent though, as always, we provide space for the other pillars of the Academy. In the sciences, there’s a story on prescribed burns, native bees, and biodiversity, and the Wisconsin Table veers into the science of one of our culinary traditions. In the arts, we have an interview with the artist Dakota Mace and a preview of upcoming exhibitions at the Watrous Gallery this spring. We also note the passing last year of Agate Nesaule and David Rhodes, writers whose work ranks among the best to come out of this state, and who are greatly missed. If you have not read their books, I encourage you to seek them out, as well as other books by Wisconsin authors and books published by Wisconsin presses. As some wise person once wrote, “the person who does not read good books has no advantage over the person who can’t read them.” (I’ve seen this attributed to both Mark Twain and Dear Abby but I have not been able to verify it; the adage did apparently appear in the Inland Steel Company Safety Bulletin No. 10 in 1914.) Regardless of the source, it’s a sentiment I share, so I am pleased to present this special issue. I hope that you enjoy the stories and the images in these pages, and that they inspire you to read further, and of course, to get outside and explore the natural wonders of Wisconsin as winter turns to spring.


Christopher Chambers is a former editor of Wisconsin People & Ideas, the Academy’s quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture. He is the past editor of Black Warrior Review, New Orleans Review, and founding editor of Midwest Review.

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