Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Cali Bagby (San Juan) worked as an embedded journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. She produced camera stills, video, and articles about daily life for women and men in uniform. Under the harsh conditions of combat, she bridged the gap between civilians and military so the American people could have a connection to two wars fought on foreign soil. Cali now works as the general manager at The Journal of the San Juan Islands. She has won numerous Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for her reporting. In 2016, her play about PTSD, a precursor to her memoir, was selected for a local playwright festival. Although she left war reporting behind, she cannot ignore the calls, emails, and texts from military family and friends that call her back to the days of combat. Most frequently Cali is reminded of the men who died not in the conflict but in the aftermath of those days.

Cali received a 2017 GAP Award to finish a chapter in her memoir Shoot Yourself: The War That Killed Everyone. The book explores the 14 months she spent as an embedded journalist with military units in Afghanistan and Iraq, focusing on her internal and external struggle as a war correspondent. The book is a dawning about who Cali is after living a life headed toward a certain destiny, a destiny that links her to one of my heroes who died in the aftermath of the war – Gil Frazier. He served as the archetype of a young warrior, but three years after coming home from the war he struggled with the memories of combat. He died in 2014 of a drug overdose. Since he has passed his friends and family have reached out to Cali. In their eyes, she documented the most important thing in the world – their loved one. Funding would cover expenses for a trip to Kentucky to interview Gil’s family and visit his gravestone to complete this story.

Artist Trust thanks the Amazon Literary Partnership for underwriting this award through Artist Trust’s Corporate Partnership program. For information about supporting Washington State artists, visit here.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

Receiving this grant will help me to complete a difficult chapter in my memoir. I believe that when we express our emotions in an art form, from writing to dance to painting, we channel ugliness into something useful. This grant not only gives me a personal boost, but it lifts my spirits that organizations like Artist Trust are supporting art in a time where hate is everywhere. We have to fight and writing this book is my small part of a larger movement towards compassion, nuance, and honesty. We have to learn to understand and communicate with those who are different from us. My book aims to bridge a gap between the military and civilians by telling stories of war. Thank you for helping me to move forward.

Cali Bagby