Montana Book Award
Chris La Tray has won the Montana Book Award (2018) for his book ONE-SENTENCE JOURNAL!
“This book is proof of the power of language, even at its most spare.”
— Russell Rowland, author of Fifty-Six Counties
One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large (OSJ), by Chris La Tray, was published in Livingston, MT by Riverfeet Press – an indie book publisher who focuses on themes of nature, wildlife and adventure. The book is a collection of poems and essays from the writer’s experiences of travelling through landscapes both wild and civilized. They speak with delicate simplicities ranging from the death of a favorite pickup truck, to the joy of hitting the trail with a four-legged companion. There are also profound observations that range from realizing he has become an aging hippie in a Carhartt vest, to the exhilaration of following the tracks of a grizzly in fresh snow.
La Tray is quick to talk about the books he has loved and the people who have inspired him. A firm believer in giving credit where it is due. There is humor in his observation of follies and his ability to not take himself too seriously. He portrays a western humbleness true to his Montana roots, and he seems to be unconcerned with making a material impression, instead, he uses his knack with words. According to writer Barry Babcock (Teachers in the Forest), “La Tray is a perimeter man, seeing the reality in wildness yet dealing the best he can at reconciling truth in nature…”
The book concludes with an essay titled: Notes on the Sacred Art of Dog Walking. La Tray recalls that this essay was inspired by Jim Harrison’s piece: Notes on the Sacred Art of Log Sitting (Deadman’s Float, 2016), which La Tray reviewed for the Missoulian Independent. La Tray’s parting words of wisdom from his essay, “Just remember to be curious. To be kind to those you encounter. And whenever possible, be sure you are walking in the wake of a joyful, boundless, and furry little butt.”
The Montana Book Award is selected by a committee of nine retired Montana Librarians who only choose a single winner each year. This year (2018) One-Sentence Journal was the unanimous favorite. There will be a reception held on April 10 at 6:00 pm at the Lewis and Clark Public Library in Helena. Runners up include: A Traveling Feast, by Rick Bass; Wonders and Woodpeckers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding, by Sneed Collard III; The Flicker of Old Dreams, by Susan Henderson; and Howl Like a Wolf!, by Kathleen Yale.
La Tray met Dan Rice (Editor of Riverfeet Press, founder of Jumping Off Point: Adventure Provisions, and Farmgirl Pizzeria & Bakery in downtown Livingston) while both were attending the Beargrass Writer’s Retreat which is held annually along the shores of the Blackfoot River in Western MT. The two conversed about wilderness and books while drinking beer beside a campfire, and when it came time for La Tray to find a publisher, he said, “I'd like to be part of what you're doing. I think what I do would reflect well on what you're doing.” Later, La Tray recalls, “It was barely more than a handshake deal, and that's the type of people I want to work with.”
The book includes hand drawn illustrations by Mara Panich-Crouch, General Manager of the legendary bookstore Fact & Fiction located in Missoula, and a cover designed by Aaron Draplin who has done design work for Nike, Patagonia, and musician Jason Isbell.
You can find the book locally at Jumping Off Point, Farmgirl, Elk River Books, or online at: riverfeetpress.com.
Parting words from La Tray: “I wish I could personally thank each person who has given my weird little book such a warm welcome. Truly.”
Read more from La Tray on his blog at: chrislatray.com