Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Taken from an interview conducted by Christine Townsend for an article about my reading last October at Sturm Memorial Library in Manawa, Wisconsin. Read the entire interview here.

CT: Why do you say "Middle West," rather than the conventional "Midwest?"

TM: I say "middle west" - no caps - because I want people to stumble over the words and notice them. I don't capitalize the words because middle westerners don't call that much attention to themselves. "Midwest" is a clipped quick two syllables; it is too easily dismissed. Well - I don't want the middle west to be so easily dismissed. I want people to pay attention. And using "middle" as I do, I am also drawing attention to an essential part of who we are, our middleness: we are at times mild and grey, certainly we're polite and moderate and generally conventional. "Middle" makes reference to such qualities in a way that "Mid-" does not.


MARCH 8, 1998

It is afternoon. I am sitting in the Atlanta airport. Outside, the day is sunny, but cold. Here, in Terminal South, life is interesting. If you sit in the airport of a major city for long enough, you will see everything. If you sit in Atlanta's airport for ten minutes, you'll see enough to make you wonder "How much more could there be?"

I have eaten a Dominoes 6" pizza. I have had two scoops of ice cream. I have listened to a couple of men nearby trading dirty jokes. And now I am sitting near two men with closely cropped hair speaking a foreign language I have not identified. Either they are soccer players from a middle European country or they are terrorists. Actually, they look too old to be soccer players.

Sitting here you can think about place - life comes and goes past this chair at a tremendous pace. I notice that some people will wear anything in public. Tall and short, thin and thick and very thick, black and white and all shades and colors between. There is nowhere along my drive to work at home to see life of this pace and variety.

I am intrigued by all the possible stories that might be walking past me: business travelers in their suits, young adventurers with duffel bags and torn blue jeans, black security guards, pilots, women traveling alone with young children. The children themselves - what do they think of this? Old men with flowing grey locks.

I give $15.00 to a young black fellow who says he lost his ticket last night on a two hour layover from Florida to Carolina. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Good story. Good acting. It is worth $15.00 to see his jaw drop when I hand him the bills.

You won't see any of this between Fairwater and Ripon on my usual drive to work.



Ben does the math -

The unusual
Counts for two.

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