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Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life

by Mary B. Kurtz

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Author Mary B. Kurtz shares the rich experiences of her Colorado agricultural life in this collection of twenty-eight lyric essays, contributing immeasurably to the great tradition of Western American literature. As if looking through the aperture of a microscope with its light-gathering qualities, Kurtz sees a clear and magnified vision of her life on a ranch and writes about its daily rhythms, the murmurings of a natural world, and the vagaries and mysteries of aging and mortality. Her stories are a manifestation of spirit, an exploration and amplification of her inner experience. She discovers her inherent instinct for survival and growth by meeting change and loss with hope and trust.


NATURE / Regional

ISBN: 978-1-956056-56-3 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-956056-57-0 (ebook)

LCCN: 2022944461

162 pages | 4 black and white images

Author Biography

Mary B. Kurtz’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, The Hong Kong Review, Ruminate Magazine, Braided Way, The Colorado Sun, BlueHouse Journal, Writers Workshop Review, and Speckled Trout Review. Her first collection of essays, At Home in the Elk River Valley: Reflections on Family, Place, and the West, was recognized as a 2012 Regional Nonfiction Finalist by the National Indie Excellence Book Award program. It was also the recipient of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s 2012 Bronze EVVY Award. Kurtz received her MFA in creative writing from Regis University. She and her husband raise quarter horses, cattle, and hay on their ranch in the Elk River Valley of northwestern Colorado. ­—



“‘It’s possible,’ said William Blake, ‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.’ In this beautiful collection of essays, Mary Kurtz proves Blake right. The lenses provided by her forty years on a ranch in northwestern Colorado—in sight of the Rockies and not far from the Elk River—allow her to write of local life in a universal way, a way that opens into the world of our senses and the world of mystery. No matter where or how you live, these deeply lived and well-told stories will illumine your life. Or so it has been for me."
Parker J. Palmer, author of On the Brink of Everything, Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness, and The Courage to Teach

“French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche wrote, ‘Attention is the natural prayer of the soul.’ If this is true, then Mary Kurtz is a woman who lives her life in prayer, lavishing attention on the land she’s rooted to: the Elk River Valley in the alpine altitudes of northern Colorado, where her family ranch lies. With Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life, she joins the great tradition of Western American literature, conveying the beauty of the land on a scale both vast and intimate. She gives us both the close-ups and the big picture in her crystalline, contemplative essays.”
Jenny Shank, author of The Ringer, winner of the High Plains Book Award in fiction and finalist for the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s Reading the West Book Awards

“These exquisite essays centered on the author and her husband’s ranch in the Rocky Mountain foothills illuminate a rural American place, its river and cottonwoods, its elk and cougar, its heavy snows and morning light. The lives of the people, too—their work of feeding and fencing, their love of an old horse, their faithful dogs, a mother’s death—are told with grace and insight. The quiet attention brought to this place and these lives make Apertures a deeply satisfying read.”
Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

“Mary Kurtz’s memoir-in-essays, Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life, is the quiet revery of a ranch woman who has lived and worked the land alongside her husband for forty years in the Elk River Valley. Under the gentle and wise ministry of Kurtz, this dark and light landscape of cattle and fireweed, of heartwood and wooly bears, of deep winter freezes and spring lupine ascends into a beautiful backdrop for her spiritual quest and awakening. Kurtz’s contemplation of life and mortality in ‘each holy place’ of this valley, through seasonal and family ritual, places Apertures alongside the finest of Western writing.”
Kathryn Winograd, author of Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children

“Mary Kurtz’s graceful, pliant sentences leave a charming imprint on the Western landscape. After finishing this book, I went back to the beginning for another round, pausing this time to re-read her most eloquent passages, stunned anew by their grace and beauty.”
David Hicks, author of White Plains, 2018 Colorado Book Award Finalist, Director of the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Wilkes University

“Mary B. Kurtz astounds and delights in this meditative collection of personal essays, reflecting, refracting, and luxuriating in the richness of a decidedly rural life. Kurtz wanders through family, community, the natural world—not outside of human dwelling but woven intimately around and to it—and the connection between selfhood and landscape, never pushing toward a specific destination but allowing the reader, always, to enjoy the ride.”
Meredith Grace Thompson, editor of BlueHouse Journal, co-editor of orangeapplepress

Articles and Reviews


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