I think one of the things that I first came to love about Indiana, and particularly about Muncie, was its contradictions. It doesn’t quite know who or what it is, and so it’s a little bit of everything at once.
On any given day, you could walk into Rural King and feel like you’re in farm country, surrounded by men in Carhartts and work boots. A mile away, at the coffee shop right by campus, you can find a group of queer undergrads talking about poetry. Downtown, you’ll get served craft beer by tattooed bartenders with great taste in music, or can catch a drag show at Indiana’s oldest gay bar, which opened the year before the Stonewall riot. You can drive down Kilgore and see the ruins of the BorgWarner plant, empty as long as I’ve lived here, and it feels like Buffalo, like Cleveland, like Detroit, like any rust belt city that’s seen the jobs all leave.
Indiana is somehow all of these things at once: the rural heartland, the economically-decimated rust belt, home to vibrant college towns and one of the largest cities in the country, a state that is both known for cars and concrete and roads and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is also home to Indiana Dunes, the Hoosier National Forest, Brown County.
This is the place that gave the world Axl Rose, Adam Lambert, and Cole Porter. We’re responsible for both Eugene V. Debs and Mike Pence. (I didn’t say complexity was always good.)
There’s space here. The space to—like the space we create in an essay—embrace complexity, to explore it, to complicate rather than simplify. It feels, sometimes, like the possibilities are endless. —Silas Hansen, Indiana #Midwessay coordinator
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