Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Reclaiming the Heartland

Lesbian and Gay Voices from the Midwest

Karen Lee Osborne and William J. Spurlin, editors

Reclaiming the Heartland

A look at lesbian and gay life from a unique vantage point-that of the Midwest.

This important and diverse new collection by writers and artists who have lived in the Midwest presents a wide range of fiction, poetry, memoir, essays, and photography, adding a vital point of view to the canon of lesbian and gay literature.

Reclaiming the Heartland provides a powerful corrective to the notion that all lesbian and gay midwesterners have packed their bags and headed for the Pacific or the Atlantic coasts because nothing was happening at home. Osborne and Spurlin’s collection reminds us that lesbians and gay men flourish in Middle America, too. This wonderful rich diversity of resonating literary voices is a gift from the heartland to lesbian and gay readers everywhere.

Lillian Faderman, author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers

This important and diverse new collection by writers and artists who have lived in the Midwest presents a wide range of fiction, poetry, memoir, essays, and photography, adding a vital point of view to the canon of lesbian and gay literature.

It seems obvious, and yet isn't, that not only are there lesbians and gay men living in the Midwest, but the Midwest offers a dynamic, if different, locus of lesbian and gay life. All too often, the discussion focuses on cities on the East and West coasts-New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Through their selection of works to be included in this volume, Osborne and Spurlin challenge the common portrayal of the Midwest as repressive and backward, pointing out the danger inherent in defining lesbian and gay identity and community too narrowly.

Reclaiming the Heartland is composed of works as diverse in form as they are in point of view: “Christmas in the Midwest” by Maureen Seaton is a poem about a woman who brings her lesbian lover home in hopes of acceptance and validation from her parents; in D. Travers Scott's story “Digestion” a group of urban gay male friends engages in a lively debate about gender conformity, all the while enjoying an exquisitely prepared dinner; the protagonist in “Luke Giovanni's Canoe” beautifully recalls her father's intense, private battle to protect the wildlife near their home in Michigan.

An essential addition to every gay and lesbian bookshelf, Reclaiming the Heartland explores the complexity of queer identity and demonstrates that beyond signifying a geographic space, the Midwest is also a perspective, a way of positioning oneself in the world.

Reclaiming the Heartland

Karen Lee Osborne is a novelist who teaches literature at Columbia College in Chicago. Among her published works are Carlyle Simpson (1986) and Hawkwings (1991).

William J. Spurlin is a reader in English and Director of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex. He is the editor of The New Criticism and Contemporary Literary Theory (1994).

Reclaiming the Heartland

Reclaiming the Heartland provides a powerful corrective to the notion that all lesbian and gay midwesterners have packed their bags and headed for the Pacific or the Atlantic coasts because nothing was happening at home. Osborne and Spurlin’s collection reminds us that lesbians and gay men flourish in Middle America, too. This wonderful rich diversity of resonating literary voices is a gift from the heartland to lesbian and gay readers everywhere.

Lillian Faderman, author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers

“Reclaiming the Heartland is a veritable smorgasbord of lesbian and gay writing: poetry, fiction, essays, interviews. It reminds those of us who were raised to believe that civilization ends west of the Delaware River and east of the San Francisco Bay, that lesbian and gay culture in America spans the entire country and is even more diverse than we had imagined. More important, this is a rich feast of good writing from a group of established and emergent writers. Anyone who is interested in gay and lesbian literature and culture in the U.S. should explore this book.” John M. Clum, Duke University

“You can’t wait to turn its pages to see what new talents and treats await on the other side. . .Treat yourself.” Gay Chicago Magazine

“Reclaiming the Heartland: Lesbian and Gay Voices from the Midwest is one of the finest anthologies I’ve read recently, and its appeal goes far beyond the assumed target. . . . Spurlin’s well-written and straightforward introductory essay does a fine job of conveying the historical and geographic context of this beautiful and eclectic collection. Lit. The Bay Guardian

“The ‘grandeur and beauty’ that Spurlin mentions in his introductory essay are far from absent in the anthology.” Lit. Bay Guardian Literary Supplement

“Wonderful writing.” The Advocate: The National Gay and Lesbian Newsmagazine

“The works focus on the Midwest as place, the broader issues of desire, and the Midwestern perspective on and in other locations. The goal is to prove that queer identity and cultural practices do indeed thrive in the heartland.” Library Journal

"“Reclaiming the Heartland: Lesbian and Gay Voices from the Midwest is a first-rate anthology of gay and lesbian writing that includes poetry, stories, memoirs and essays. . . . Reclaiming the Heartland is a winner.” LIT: Chicago New City’s Literary Supplement

“An interesting and well-written collection of prose and poetry.” The Lesbian Review of Books