Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Visit with Sherwood Anderson

No, I didn't meet the dead author, Sherwood Anderson, personally. I did, however, get to visit his archives in the Symth-Bland Regional Library, and travel to his gravesite in Round Hill Cemetery in Marion, VA. It was an awe-inspiring experience for a writer. No doubt, I felt like an athlete who gets to meet his sport's idol, or an aspiring actor who comes to face-to-face with a movie star. I do know that just to see copies of his handwritten book, Winesburg, Ohio, with all the markouts and edits, left me speechless.

When I saw the typewriter he had with him in Panama when he died, I could hear the clack of those keys as he wrote. I wanted to break into the protective case and push down one of the keys - just one. I wanted to place my fingers lightly against those keys and soak up his talent. I imagined it would look like an electric current coursing into my fingers.
When I saw pictures of him with other writers I admire like Katherine Ann Porter and Eudora Welty, I imagined what the conversation would have been like. I wondered if they talked about their books and publications? Their travels? Families? Did they gossip about fellow writers and friends Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway? Or did Sherwood tell them about his life in the tiny town of Marion, VA. Did he talk about the town newspapers he owned and wrote for?

Before visiting this treasure, I believed what I'd read, that Sherwood Anderson had "retired" to Marion, VA. From what I saw in his archives, that was far from the truth. He continued to write; worked everyday at his newspapers, and joined his wife, Eleanor Copenhaver on her quest to stop the mills in southwest VA, east Tennessee, and North Carolina from hiring children and young women who had to work in deplorable conditions for very little money.
The tour was a fascinating and inspiring experience, followed by a delicious luncheon at Hungry Mother Park, all a treat for those who won or placed in the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest. As proud as I am to be the winner of that contest, I am more honored to say I have seen artifacts from his life and works. I am humbled by his talent and legacy and inspired by the epitaph on his tombstone
Life, Not Death, is the Great Adventure.


  1. there's something magical about being in the presence of someone you've admired, seeing a part of their life and knowing more about that enhances the bond! and Congrats on winning the contest.
    walk in beauty this day.

  2. Congratulations on your win! I visited Ripshin and his nearby writing cabin a few years ago when I won the contest. I still have a little rock that my husband picked out of Ripshin Creek.