Western to Host Oral History of an American Boomtown

Western to Host Oral History of an American Boomtown

Out Here on Our Own: An Oral History of an American Boomtown by J.J. Anselmi will take place at Western on Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in Room 1302.

ROCK SPRINGS — Western Wyoming Community College will be hosting author, J.J. Anselmi who will be reading from his book, Out Here on Our Own: An Oral History of an American Boomtown.

Photographer Jordan Utley, who took photographs for the book, will be accompanying Anselmi on his book tour and will share various images from the publication. The event takes place on Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in room 1302.

Out Here on Our Own tells the story of Rock Springs and its boom-bust cycles. Anselmi uses a variety of original interviews to tell the stories of racial violence, addiction, prostitution, and the per-capita suicide rate. All of this is done through the lens of resiliency within the community. Tracing the community’s history from the Chinese Massacre to the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics, Out Here on Our Own, looks at the struggle for Rock Springs to maintain its identity of rugged individualism.  

Advertisement - Story continues below...

Anselmi grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming and his works include Doomed to Fail: The Incredibly Loud History of DoomSludge, and Post-metal; and Heavy: A Memoir of Wyoming, BMX, Drugs, and Heavy Fucking Music.

He also wrote the liner notes for the 2017 reissue of Sepultura’s classic thrash record, Chaos A.D.. Anselmi has been published in VICE, The New Republic, The A.V. Club, Revolver, and JSTOR Daily. Currently, Anselmi resides in California with his family and is an active musician.  

Michael Patrick, author of The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown described Anselmi’s work as, “J.J. Anselmi gives the microphone to the people most affected by the extraction of oil and coal: those who live and work in boomtowns. “Out Here on Our Own” shimmers with the poetry, wit, and grit of the plain spoken. Like Studs Terkel before him, Anselmi compels his interview subjects—in this case the residents of Rock Springs, Wyoming—to tell it to us straight.”

Those in attendance can expect an in-depth exploration of Rock Springs and the people who lived here. The reading will additionally provide insight into creative nonfiction writing and the oral history form. Writings like Out Here on Our Own can be challenging in representing difficult historical topics, especially those that carry into modern day. Attendees can expect discussion regarding mental health, suicide, and the toll the boom-bust cycle has had on Rock Springs.  

This event has been made possible by the Wesswick Foundation. For more information about the event contact Associate Librarian, Jonathan Harwood, at 307-382-1702, or by email at: jharwood@westernwyoming.edu