Revisiting Writing Obituaries On Wednesday's Access Utah

Nov 14, 2018

How do you sum up a life? What do you include and what do you leave out? Heather Lende, author of the new book "Find the Good," is the obituary writer for the Chilkat Valley News in a beautiful but often dangerous spit of land in Alaska. She says "we are all writing our own obituary every day by how we live." Shanan Ballam, who teaches Creative Writing at Utah State University, wrote her brother Dylan's obituary. She felt that the obituary was not enough--it left too much unsaid.  So she's been writing "addendum" poems, to "more fully characterize, celebrate, and mourn [her] brother." 

Heather Lende
Credit The King's English Bookshop

Heather Lende has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler, among other newspapers and magazines, and is a former contributing editor at Woman's Day. In addition to writing obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News, she is  columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News. Her previous books include  If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs.

Shanan Ballam
Credit artistsofutah.org

Shanan Ballam earned her MFA in Poetry Writing from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She is the author of a poetry chapbook The Red Riding Hood Papers(Finishing Line Press 2010) and a full-length poetry manuscript Pretty Marrow(Negative Capability Press 2013). She teaches Creative Writing for Utah State University, and she is a member of the Utah Arts Council Board of Directors.