Sunday, April 11, 2021

The #Midwessay: Heidi Czerwiec's Midwessay: North Dakota

Winter. Bone deep cold. Oil. Wind. Fargo (you can still pose with the woodchipper from the movie at the Fargo Visitors Center). These are some of the first concepts that usually come to mind when people think of North Dakota. The essays presented here examine the complexity of North Dakota, “a state used as a punching bag for a place where nothing happens,” as Bronson Lemer writes. It’s not an easy state to love, but it is a hard place to shake.  —Pamela Pierce, North Dakota Coordinator


Midwessay: North Dakota

Heidi Czerwiec



—not of North Dakota, but lived there long enough—half my adult life—that I hate on it but my hackles raise when others do—state so nondescript, nothing but horizon—what author Debra Marquart calls “The Horizontal World”—“so flat you could watch your dog run away for three days,” my husband says—no one ever believed I lived there, insisting I must mean the Dakota with Rushmore, north of that blank, nothing inhabiting that space in the imagination—might as well mark it “Here Be Dragons” on the map, where normal rules don’t apply and even our river ran north, choking on its own ice, reflux flooding all that flatness, struggling to escape—

Essayist and poet Heidi Czerwiec is the author of the lyric essay collection Fluid States, selected by Dinty W. Moore as winner of Pleiades Press’ 2018 Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose, and the poetry collection Conjoining, and is the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets. She writes and teaches in Minneapolis, where she is an editor for Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. Visit her at

What is the #Midwessay? What is the Midwest? What are the characteristics, if any, of the #Midwessay (the Midwest essay)? What gathers us together? What pulls us apart? Springing from a twitter conversation, we started asking writers and readers what they imagine (or would like to reimagine) as the Midwest and the Midwessay. The #Midwessay is a series of reports from the Midwest (whatever that is) by and/or about Midwestern essay and essayists (whatever those are). Essay Daily will be publishing these, sorted (loosely) by state, in February 2021 and beyond.  These #Midwessays will be collected here and on a separate site at a later date. If you'd like to submit a report / essay, send it our way. Details and coordinators for each state are listed here. You can also ping Ander (link at the upper right) if we don't list a coordinator yet for your state. —The Editors

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