Try, try again: Bukoski took long route to first sale
September 7, 2018
It took 29 tries for Anthony Bukoski to have his first publication accepted, but it came with a price.
“When it was accepted on the 29th try, the journal’s editor sent him a $5 check with a note asking the author to please remit the money as payment for a subscription,” wrote Nick Hayes, the University Chair in Critical Thinking at Saint John’s University, in the forward to Bukoski’s latest book, “Head of the Lakes.”
Bukoski, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the author of six books, will be interviewed by James Rogers, director of the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Saint John’s Pottery.
The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the University Chair in Critical Thinking and Saint John’s Pottery.
“Head of Lakes” (Nodin Press, 2018) is comprised of short stories selected from the 51 stories in Bukoski’s previous four books – “Children of Strangers (Southern Methodist University Press, 1993), “Polanise” (SMU, 1999), “Time Between Trains” (SMU, 2003) and “North of the Port” (SMU, 2008). He has also written “Twelve Below Zero” (Holy Cow! Press, 2008).
A native of Superior who grew up in the city’s East End, Bukoski has cast many – but not all – of his stories in the Twin Ports city. The East End was largely an area of Polish immigrants, with an ethnic mix of Swedes, Finns, Native Americans and other.
Never mind, Hayes wrote. “I’ve claimed it for Poland,” Bukoski said.
“Bukoski has done for Superior’s East End what Raymond Carver did for the down-and-out of the Pacific Northwest or Pete Hamill did when annexing New York for the Irish. He’s brought back to life Superior’s Polish American community from its boom days in the post-World War II era to its decline and near disappearance in recent times,” Hayes wrote.
“Few writers are as masterful as Bukoski in portraying the power of place, for better or worse, in our lives,” wrote Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Pamela Miller in her review of “Head of the Lakes.”
Bukoski was one of 14 individuals inducted into the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Fellow earlier this year. He has been presented the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association three times, and has won the Anne Powers Book-length Fiction Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers three times.
In 2005, the Robert E. Gard Wisconsin Idea Foundation presented Bukoski for “the excellence with which (his) stories celebrate his grass roots, the Polish East End of Superior, Wisconsin, thus bringing this community to life in literature.”
The Polish American Historical Association and the Polish Institute of Houston has also honored Bukoski.
Bukoski’s books have been reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist (including a starred review of “Time Between Trains”), Kirkus Reviews and the Dallas Morning News. The New York Times Book Review has called him “a sure-handed, lyrical, writer.”