James M. Chesbro’s essays have been listed as notable selections in The Best American Essays 2012, 2104, and The Best American Sports Writing 2014. His work has appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle,Connecticut Review, The Huffington Post, AOL.com, The Good Men Project, Superstition Review,Weston Magazine, The Connecticut Post, and Spiritus. He is the co-editor of You: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person (Welcome Table Press, 2013).
James teaches full-time at Fairfield Prep. He holds an MFA from Fairfield University, where he is an adjunct professor of English. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and children.
From Granby to Greenwich, area police departments and wildlife experts in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been especially busy this spring and summer responding to calls about black bears. Some residents are more likely to encounter a bear than others, but more than ever, all of us dwell, somewhere between fascination and fear, between the novelty of seeing such a gorgeous awe-inspiring creature with our own eyes and the terror inspired by a several hundred pound omnivorous predator’s appearance in the yards where our children and pets play. We are situated somewhere between our ignorance of black bear behavior and our potential exposure to them. The continued bear sightings are our communal wake-up calls out of the hibernation of unknowing.
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I have an essay out in the February issue of The Writer’s Chronicleabout the various ways in which writers are employing second person point of view in creative nonfiction, including: Bill Bryson, Joan Connor, Dave Eggers, Joan Didion, Marsha McGregor, Joe Wenderoth, Mary Karr, John McPhee, and Paul Lisicky, with craft thoughts from Phillip Lopate, Kim Dana Kupperman, Baron Wormser, and Robert Atwan.
“The Return of the Prodigal Father” appears in the fall issue of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality. I’m grateful to editor, Douglas E. Christie, for accepting the essay and including the following words about it in his editor’s note:
“Chesbro asks us to consider the powerful transformation that can occur when a much loved (and perhaps overly familiar) sacred text reveals a new, unexpected but utterly necessary meaning; when you suddenly realize that you have to set out along a very different path from the one you have been walking all along.”
What I wish we could do as a culture is push aside all the noise in social media about the schleppy mundane aspects of parenting, about how children should Go the F**k to Sleep. I wish we could dismiss the alarmists and the prescriptive fix-all guide books and make more room in the publishing landscape for the humble voices confiding wisdom.
When the editors of Superstition Review asked me about the inspiration for this essay, for their newsletter, I told them I started writing this piece as an attempt to make sense of the guilt I felt in throwing out some of my deceased father’s belongings–that I wanted to explore what was worth keeping, why some of the objects were a source of consolation, to see if my associations to the thing I was essaying might provide a pathway to the origin of the emotional charge the object delivered. “From the Rust and Sawdust” appears in the fall issue, which you can read here, or listen here. “From the Rust and Sawdust” was selected as a notable essay for The Best American Essays 2014.