Matthew Landrum’s piece “Dog Days” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 13, out now.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been seriously writing since I was twenty (about a decade ago). I was trying to be a musician and decided after two and a half years of half-empty shows that I didn’t love it. So I turned to writing.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I was born in Lafayette, grew up in Grand Rapids, and live in Ann Arbor.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I’ve grappled with how to approach my material (the Midwest) for as long as I’ve been writing. It’s easy for me to view my childhood (and adulthood) as blasé or unglamorous—cornfields, small towns and underwhelming metropolises, placid lakes. For a time, I was jealous of poets like Seamus Heaney or Natasha Trethewey for growing up in regions with grit, history, and a clear sense of place. So I wrote a ton about Peru and England and the South, a kind of borrowed regionalism. I’ve had to push past this. I write to break out of my head and into the world around me and bring something back. So that makes the Midwest the most important thing in my writing practice, a return to reality.
Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
We haven’t had major wars fought here, no goldrushes or conquistador missions. Our buildings are mostly post-1900. We don’t have history or a history of regionalist writing. In viewing ourselves as the middle, we’ve ceded the right to identity to every place around us. The major cities have their own thing going on: Chicago and Detroit. But for me, in the hinterlands of Michigan, I had the sense that I was no-place. I don’t think I’m not the only one who’s had to fight past this.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I use it. I went through a stage where I was tweeting and tweeting but it began to be a substitute for the writing I was trying to promote. So I backed off. Now I use it sporadically to promote events I’m reading or lecturing at and alert friends and followers to news from the magazine I edit for (Structo Magazine).
A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman. He’s a great example of someone who created regionalism where none existed.
I feel a bit like I’m filling out a match.com profile here. I like middle-eastern food though garlic’s no good for romance or poetry readings.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
I’d have hard ciders with Paul Muldoon.
Where can we find more information about you?
You can connect with my magazine at structomagazine.co.uk and read my occasion blog at www.matthewlandrum.com.