Ralph Salisbury, Professor Emeritus of the University of Oregon, is the author of ten books of poetry and three books of short fiction. His poetry titles include Light From a Bullet Hole: Poems New and Selected; Blind Pumper at the Well; War in the Genes; Rainbows of Stone; A White Rainbow; Going to the Water: Poems of a Cherokee Heritage; Spirit Beast Chant; Pointing at the Rainbow; Ghost Grapefruit and Other Poems; and Poesie Da Un Retaggio Cherokee (Multimedia Edizioni, Salerno, Italy). His short fiction titles include The Indian Who Bombed Berlin; The Last Rattlesnake Throw; and One Indian and Two Chiefs.
River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize
Bullet-shattered glass clatters onto his baby bed; he wakes and cries out into darkness. Does he remember this? Or remember being told? Regardless, he feels it, and will feel it again, bomb bay wind buffeting his eighteen-year-old body a mile above an old volcano’s jagged debris, and yet again, staring at photos of Korean orphans, huddled homeless in a blizzard after a bombing in which, at twenty-five, he’d refused an order to join. It is through such prisms of the past that Ralph Salisbury’s life unfolds, a life that, eighty years in the making, is also the life of the twentieth century. Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, So Far, So Good is a sometimes strange, sometimes lyrical, and often humorous attempt by an inveterate storyteller to recount “just things as they were.”
The survivor of a lightning strike, car and plane mishaps, explosions, bullets, a heart attack, cancer, and other human afflictions, Salisbury wonders: “Why should anyone read this?” The book itself resoundingly answers this question not merely with its sheer eventfulness but also in the prodigious telling. Salisbury takes us from abject poverty in rural Iowa during the Great Depression, with a half Cherokee father and an Irish American mother, through war and peace and protest to the freedom and solace of university life; and it is in the end (so far) so good.