The Heartlands is bookended by poetic tributes to Sherwood Anderson, one a reprint, the other an original, both crying for ‘more, more.’ You hear Sherwood, you think Ohio, which is also home to the Firelands Writing Center, the producers of The Heartlands. The audience extends from the southern tip of Lake Erie, out to “Northwest Ohio, Ohio at large, the Midwest and the Nation…around our theme of Midwest Life and Art.” The community-minded publication includes photo essays from community college students to an essay by editor and teacher Larry Smith, who writes that the most important gift of writing is our intention, “If we can get out of the way (of our ego) our presence and our intent will come across quiet and clear. To do this we must be able to slow down and listen.” This idea, this community of sharing, from the classroom to the forest, courses through the black and white magazine-styled journal.
Doctorate candidate Professor Spark, in “The Destruction of Professor Spark” by Robert Pope, is annoyed by the callow content of an overzealous writing student. “Grade it, return it, forget it, that is my recommendation,” Spark’s dissertation director advises him on the student. Spark soon confronts the irony of his situation. The poetry is naturalistic and nostalgic, ranging from Carol Was’s lyricism in both nature and what has been forgotten to Greg Moglia capturing the images of happiness “Midnight dancing in the swirling snow/on the small town main street.” Two pieces that were especially enlightening about Midwestern life, “Auction” by Marilyn DeMoranville and “A Year in the Heartland,” by Wendy Patton were labeled in the odd classification of Articles. “Auction” refers to an auction of a farmer’s assets in 1955, written with too much internal point of view to be considered journalistic. “A Year in the Heartland” tracks the course of the 2004 presidential election through the Inmate Culinary School, where convicts chef up “Venison Medallions au Beurre Rouge for his (George Bush) luncheon.” Isn’t that fiction? Sherwood? [Heartlands, Firelands Writing Center, BGSU Firelands, One University Drive, Huron, OH 44839. Single issue $6. www.theheartlandstoday.net] –RT Duffer