Big Bridge #10

Export: Writing the Midwest



"the roads I chose as a man / all started here" --Alex Gildzen, from "Straddling Third St."

I cannot imagine coming to writing if I hadn't lived in the Midwest. I was born and raised and have many good memories of southern Wisconsin. The sights and sounds all influenced me and shaped what I knew and have come to know as I grow, including the haunting images of broken-down factories, the muddy brown rivers, the desolation, the separation, sense of isolation which sculpted my hometown.

When I started writing in my teens, I noted that the artistic community which seemed so prevalent on the east and west coasts and other regions of the country was utterly missing from the place I came from. I was alone in my artistic pursuits and wondered if there was life elsewhere. While my friends were still playing with action figures, I was reading Jack Kerouac, Kierkegaard, Breton, and Allen Ginsberg. In all my isolation as a young artist I thought that I might possibly be breaking new ground. I had no outside or extraneous influences on my thought other than what I read and the ghostly clanging of crumbling heavy metal factories along the brownish rivers, the events unfolding in my young and impressionable life.

As an avid reader and explorer of literature, I often haunt libraries scouring the shelves for that rare, obscure, and delightful find. During such trips I’ve often come across regional anthologies… I've seen anthologies of Southern writing, Writing from the East Coast, Southwestern writing, West coast writing…and on one of my recent trips it dawned on me that the Midwest is a region uncharted. I am sure there are Midwestern anthologies floating about and I know for certain there's an anthology of Chicago writing, but my continual dismay and inability to find a Midwestern writing anthology at the library spurred my realization of how much my home and upbringing truly affected my life as well as how much it moved me to become a writer whose voice is shaped by roots.

Featured here are the fine writings of authors who live in or have a deep personal affinity with this wonderful Midwestern landscape of glass and ice, forest and prairie, eternally rolling fields, broken factories, and redbrick roads.

May this anthology transport you to our Midwestern landscape which means as much to me as to others.

--Andrew Lundwall, 10/15/04


Thanks to Michael Rothenberg for allowing me this opportunity, to Jeannie Smith for her love, assistance, and necessary feedback whilst I worked on this anthology, to my family (almost all of whom live in the Midwest), to the authors for their fine contributions, and to all whom helped spread the word about this project. Thank you.

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