What Happened on 6/21/18 and 12/21/19

Dear Readers: we asked you to write about and pay attention to What Happened on 06/21/18 and 12/21/19. Details on the 06/21/18 project below, and we'll be publishing essays from What Happened on December 21, 2019 over the next month or so. Find those essays here (scroll down for What Happened on June 21, 2018):


Dear Readers:

On June 21, 2018, we published an experiment in noticing, What Happened on June 21st, 2018, in which we invited anyone interested to write about what happened on that day. You sent in about 250 reports, and we published them all in June and July 2018. (They're linked below for your pleasure.)

It came about in part as a response to Nicholson Baker's essay, "What Happened on April 29, 1994"? It's a simple thing, in which he simply recorded what happened (however he defined that) on one day in 1994. (You can find its full text below if you want to read it.) He composed it on assignment from French magazine Nouvel Observateur, which also invited 239 other writers to write down "what happened" on that day.

We found the reports you submitted on What Happened on Your June 21sts to be beautiful, democratic, moving, and revelatory. For one writer, this was the first thing she'd written since her husband had died. All four members of one family all wrote about what happened on that day. Another writer wrote about what happened on June 21st for the previous 22 years. The youngest participant (that we know of) was ten. The oldest were in their eighties.

Some things showed up in many accounts: a World Cup match, Melania Trump's jacket reading "I Don't Care, Do U?", and the continuing horror of family separations along the US-Mexico border, just to name a few commonalities. We did a corpus analysis of the most-commonly-occurring 24 nouns that shows us just a bit of what we share when we share a day.

And after repeating this assignment in other contexts, we decided to publish a digital anthology of What Happened.

It's designed to make the project easily teachable and repeatable by anyone who'd like to do so. In order to do that, we had to use only a fraction of the essays we published. So we chose 25 of the approximately 250 that showed off a range of how to pay attention to What Happens on a Day.

It also comes with three brief introductions to the project by Ander Monson, Will Slattery, and Dorian Rolston, and some suggestions for how to teach or reproduce this with your family, friends, classroom, or with whoever.

So here they are, presented as a 97-page pdf for you.

You may download the anthology for free here.

If you find it useful or beautiful or entertaining, we would welcome a suggested donation to Essay Daily (well, to New Michigan Press, our sponsoring organization):

(If you're old school, you could also just send us a check, c/o New Michigan Press, University of Arizona English, PO Box 210067, Tucson AZ 85721-0067.)

You may download and use the anthology however you'd like for educational or recreational purposes, though of course the work inside it belongs to its respective authors, who hold the copyrights on their contributions. If you'd like to reprint anything from it in a book or something, please contact us for permission.

Here's a link to download the anthology.

And here's a link to the What Happened podcast, a series of conversations hosted by Dorian Rolston with writers and non-writers about What Happened on June 21st, but also what's happening now, and how we pay attention to things.

And below you'll find the full flowering of What Happened on June 21st, 2018:

What Happened on June 21st, according to:

June 22: Cila Warncke • Christopher Schaberg • Mel Hinshaw • Rosemary Smith • Naomi Washer • Christopher Doda

June 23: Rachel Stilley • Debby Thompson • Andrew Bomback • David Woll • Sarah Viren • Sonya Huber • Nancy Geyer • Cicily Bennion • Linda Wiratan • John Proctor

June 24: Maddie Norris • Amy Butcher • Michele Sharpe • Jim Connolly • Jim Ross • Terese Svoboda • Merle Brown • Randon Billings Noble • Abby Hagler • Nathaniel Rosenthalis

June 25: Allie Leach • Erik Anderson • Sara Marchant • Pamela Krueger • Christopher Citro • Maura Featherything • Amanda Yanowski • Emi Rose Noguchi • Melissa Matthewson • Amanda JS Kaufmann

June 26: Emily Sinclair • Linda Sage • Sylvia Chan • Renée E. D’Aoust • Beth Weeks • Virginia Marshall • Liza Porter • Connie Clark • Lisa Roylance • Nicole Walker

June 27: Bethany Maile • Jordan Wiklund • Tom McAllister • Sarah Ruhlen • S.L. Wisenberg • Doug Hesse • A. E. Weisgerber • Nora Almeida • Jamison Crabtree • Whittier Strong

June 28: Jody Kennedy • Whitney Vale • Pau Derecia • Katie Jean Shinkle • Alina Stefanescu • Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell • Devon Confrey • Catherine Reid Day • Anonymous • Peta Murray

June 29: Anna Kate Blair • Dinty W. Moore • Jared Buchholz • Bronson Lemer • Alizabeth Worley • Leslie Stainton • Amy Roper • Charish Badzinski • Jane Piirto • Zoë Bossiere

June 30: Marcia Aldrich • Mandy Len Catron • Jasmina Kuenzli • Ryan Van Meter • Lynne Grist • Nora-Lyn Veevers • Chelsea Biondolillo • Melissa Faliveno • Natalie Lima • Boyer Rickel 

July 2: Sophfronia Scott • Lisa Levine • Samantha Bell • Jacqueline Doyle • Lynn Z. Bloom  Steven Church  Kristine Mahler  Stacey Engels  Matt Jones  Genia Blum

July 3: Jillian Ivey  Colin Rafferty  Eshani Surya  Morgan Reidl  Ashley Hutson  Laurie Easter  Lisa O'Neill  Ronnie Lovler  Maria Sledmere  Sarah Einstein

July 4: Ida Bettis Fogle  Rhys Fraser  Judy Xie  Melissa Mesku  Ryan Kim  Helen Betya Rubinstein  Caitlynn Martinez-McWhorter  Susan Briante  Samantha Jean Coxall   Patrick Collier

July 5: Ander Monson • Jennifer Gravley • Jeannie Roberts • Mark Neely • Jill Christman • Alison Deming • Ella Neely • Henry Neely • Sandra J Lindow • Emma Thomason 

July 6: Andrew Maynard • Krista Dalby • Katy Sperry • Dustin Parsons • Marie O'Rourke • Elizabeth Evans • Sandra Lambert • Albert Goldbarth • Lorri McDole • Joni Tevis

July 7: Hala Gabir • Samuel Rafael Barber • Jason Thayer • Cecilia Pinto • Elona Sherwood • Simon Flory • Lynn K. Kilpatrick • Michelle Midori Repke • Caleb Klitzke • Cynthia Brandon-Slocum 

July 8: Joe Slocum • Denry Willson • Carolyn Ogburn • Patrick Madden • Alec Carvlin • John Che • Dinah Lenney • McKenzie Long • Danielle Cadena Deulen 

July 9: Emilio Carrero • Shamae Budd • Daniel Juckes • ShenLin Fang • John Bodine • Timothy Berg • Jennie B. Ziegler • Dorian Rolston • Kathryn Gougelet • Susan Olding

July 10: Kelly Caldwell • Dave Mondy • Lawrence Lenhart • Elizabeth Boquet • Amber Carpenter • Kat Moore • Donald Carr • Sonja Livingston •  Cindy Bradley • Elizabeth K. Brown

July 11: Brian Michael Barbeito • Alison Stine • Katherine E. Standefer • Abby Dockter and Thomas Dai • Karen Schaffner • James Butler-Gruett • Rebecca Graves • Jennifer McGuiggan • Cassie Keller Cole • Margot Singer

July 12: John Bennion • Lee Reilly • Gabriel Dozal • Danielle Geller • Rachel Haywood • Karen R. M. Koch • Jill Kolongowski • Jessi Peterson • Silas Hansen • Lucy Nash

July 13: Kayla Haas • Yelizaveta P. Renfro • Amanda Holmes • Mattison Merritt • Amber Taliancich • Elizabeth Miller • Sarah Haak • Kathryn Clarke • Tain Gregory 

July 14: Verity Sayles • Margaret Foley • David L. Garcia • Joshua Unikel • Denise Wilkinson • P. A. Wright • Tracey L. Kelley • Natalie Wardlaw 

July 15: Erin Rhees • Will Slattery • Ellen Sprague • Shell Stewart Cato • Laura Swan • Cassandra Kircher • Amy Probst • Ashley P. Taylor 

July 16: Stayci Taylor • Laura Schuff • Chris McGuire • Joshua Dewain Foster • Craig Reinbold • Carlos Davy Hauser • Heidi MacDonald.

July 18: bonus June 21st from Matthew Vollmer

July 19: Rachel Ratner's bonus June 21st.

August 6th: Lorri Neilsen Glenn's bonus June 21st.

A corpus analysis of all the What Happened essays featuring the 24 most-often-occurring meaningful words is here.

Dorian Rolston wrote about it a bit here, to give you some context. Ander Monson wrote about it, and the larger project we took on this summer, a bit more here. And then he expanded even more on it here.

Click Baker's original piece below to enlarge and read:

If you'd like to be notified on the next iteration of What Happened On..., add your email to the I'm Interested form here,

—The Editors

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