Exhilarating it is to witness today's ever-fluid creative possibilities. Today's possibilities blur the boundaries among written, oral, performance and cyber traditions. Contradictions flourish everywhere in the push and pull of the provincial and global, rural and urban, faithful and skeptical, collective and individual, and the Utopian and dystopian.
From my home observatory in Washer City (Newton), Iowa, the undeniable challenges of globalization continue to loom. This community, a former one-company town (Maytag Corporation), has no choice but to respond. Writers need conflict, and life in Washer City, and the Midwest, provides enough tensions and complexity to keep this native Iowan writing since her teens. The hardwood arms of black walnut trees in the lap of eastern Iowa’s Grant Wood country nurtured my youthful imagination. Muses continue to luxuriate in our welcoming landscape. It is a privilege to call myself Iowan. —Elaine
REACTION to Some American Gothic Girls:
Just beautiful. It's you. It's me. It makes me proud of who we are! —Jody Haller, Anamosa Class of 1978
Down in the dirt real! You are such a great poetic voice for Iowa. The media work and music is just sensurround awesome. What a cool interactive way to celebrate poetry with the Telebooth. —Sarah Cartwright, Des Moines writer
Nice work, Elaine. very well tuned to time and place. For me, really evocative. Another thing you do well—an almost lost art—scansion. Putting the right number of syllables in a line of poetry or music is a real art—and it adds *immeasurably* to the feeling of authenticity, that what's being said is just simply lll'"right." — George Mattingly, Berkeley poet, graphic designer and author of Breathing Space, and core creator of the Iowa City-based literary movement, Actualism.
You had me at gravel roads and Milky Way skies. —Jill Shannon Willrich, Ankeny, Iowa
Mississippi Mist Upstream: This poem also benefits from original music under by John Mattingly, performed here by John Mattingly on piano, with Kelly Neese on lap steel. I filmed the footage on a Monday morning in October in McGregor, Iowa; it is unadulterated.
The iconic images in Grant Wood's American Gothic were ever-present in my youth. However, when I viewed the stern appearance of the subjects with an adult's eye, something new emerged. You may find the text of this piece in the well-loved and critically-acclaimed Wapsipinicon Almanac, published by Tim Fay, Jones County, Iowa. I took this footage in Eldon, Iowa during American Gothic Days, held each June. The music under, Mint Julep, is performed and composed by John Mattingly.
There were many responses to the exit of Maytag Corporation from its global headquarters and birthplace known as Newton, Iowa. When 2,000+ jobs were lost in this one-company town of 15,000, many had a response similar to the one described in this poem. One may discover the text of this poem on the University of Iowa's Daily Palette site as well as the online poetics cinepoem site, The Continental Review (http://www.thecontinentalreview.com/elaine-mattingly). If the sound production underlying the piece evokes cinema and the Wild West, that is by design. Life certainly felt way out of the common person's control during those trying times.