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Question & Answer: Chris Young

Jan 1, 2001

He is a photographer for The State Journal-Register in Springfield. His portraits of creatures and natural places are now available in Close to Home: The landscapes, wildlife and hidden beauty of central Illinois. Jiffy Johnson of public radio station WUIS/WIPA at the University of Illinois at Springfield interviewed Young about his work for her weekly program "Living in Illinois." This is an edited version of that interview.

The ultimate symbol of money in Illinois politics is a shoe box. Even though it has been decades since the death of Secretary of State Paul Powell in 1970, and the subsequent discovery of more than $800,000 in cash in his hotel room, the image of that tattered box endures.

George Atkinson

He started simply enough. The Illinois countryside, with its fertile fields and open sky, makes for pretty drawings in pastels. But then George Atkinson had what he calls his "epiphany," when he began to see what is mostly invisible from the Interstate, and fast disappearing from the landscape. He realized his art could express something beyond rural beauty: It could document, in a sense preserve, a way of life he saw reflected in the Midwest's dwindling number of family-owned dairy farms.

They say the book is dead. Journals and magazines, too. Newspapers? An archaic remnant of the past. In their stead, we have 97 cable channels and the World Wide Web. If the written word has any future at all, it will have to survive in cyberspace, an adjunct to the explosion of color and light that will provoke the world of the mind in the new century. People just don't read anymore. Let the hand-wringing begin.

What is the future of poetry in the prairie state of Illinois?

It would appear to be doing well for now. There was a recent Associated Press story on Lee Gurga, complete with a photograph of the nationally noted haiku poet-dentist posed with his dog and axe against a backdrop of hilly woods on his 77-acre spread near Lincoln in the central section of the state.

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