My review of Phil Christman's Midwest Futures, in the latest issue of the Washington Examiner magazine:
The Portuguese have saudade, a melancholy sense of longing. The Turks have huzun, a feeling of nostalgia so acute that it induces torpor. Surely, the Midwest deserves a word all its own to describe its vast hunger for a settled, temporal home. A word to describe both the plaintive longing you hear in the trumpet of Miles Davis (from East St. Louis) and the heavy silences punctuating Hemingway’s (from Oak Park, Illinois) prose.
But perhaps this sensibility isn’t enough to connect one Midwestern artist to another. What do William Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Prince, Madonna, T.S. Eliot, Charlie Parker, and Marianne Moore have in common other than region of origin? If there’s anything definitive to be said about them, Christman explains, it's that they’re each unique. “Midwestern creativity,” he writes, “feeds on anonymity, on secrecy. It seam-rips at normality until it finds strangeness. We see Midwestern artists, then, as singular, not regional.” Midwestern artists want to be left alone to cultivate idiosyncratic inner worlds. The lack of a regional style or aesthetic is a feature, not a bug. To drive the point home, Christman mentions that infamous interaction between Matt Damon and Prince when Damon said to the musician, “I hear you live in Minnesota,” to which Prince responded, “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.”
It’s difficult not to see this self-creation as mirroring the intentional and inorganic creation of the Midwest itself.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor