The American Midwest provides the ideal landscape for literature exploring the intricate evolution of American ideology and culture from the earliest frontiersmen and settlers to present day citizens. In celebration of this region’s inherent importance to American identity, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland presents a myriad of Midwestern-focused literature in three sections of literary styles—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—with introductions contributed by admired and award-winning Midwestern authors, Dean Bakopoulos, Debra Marquart, and Iowa State Poet Laureate, Mary Swander.
With an extensive roster of sixty-eight highly talented writers, this anthology presents an eclectic mix of short stories, flash fiction, lyric essays, autobiographies, and formal and experimental poems that delve into the nuances of Midwestern identity. Each writer herein investigates, challenges, and redefines the varied perceptions of the Midwest, and, most importantly, their literary art invites us to gaze with renewed appreciation on the environmental beauty, nourishing agriculture, and innovative and creative people of the American Heartland.
“As a recent transplant to the Midwest from the Southwest, I gobbled up the poems, stories, and essays in this anthology as if they were farmers’ market produce—fresh, sweet, ripe, spicier than you expect, good for you yet deliciously decadent. These authors—some lauded veterans, many emerging, all of them stunning in their talent—brood vividly, comically, mournfully, complexly on what it means to be from, to live in, and to leave the Midwest. This wondrous, energizing anthology evokes what it feels like to be rooted in and to write out of a specific sense of place and why such an endeavor matters in an age of globalization. Prairie Gold fills me with gratitude for the literary variety and richness of my new home.”—K. L. Cook, author, Love Songs for the Quarantined and Last Call
“For those who think that between New York and California there’s nothing but three time zones, this anthology fills in a full continent’s worth of great writing. In the heart of the heart of the country, the word is etched a little deeper, the colors fade and spark with tan internal luminosity, and the poems and stories in PRAIRIE GOLD speak in a defining vernacular of Real Life, Real People, Real Literature.”–Bob Holman, Bowery Poetry Club, Bowery Arts & Science, Co-Director, Endangered Language Alliance
“Prairie Gold offers a respectful nod to the traditional agrarian based identity of the Midwest, then gathers it’s collective voice to challenge those comfortable notions of what defines the Midwest and what it means to be a Midwesterner.”–J. Harley McIlrath, author, Possum Trot
“Editors Lance Sacknoff, Xavier Cavazos, and Stefanie Brook Trout have thus given us an eclectic and revealing picture of Midwest literary culture. Talented writers such as Jason Lee Brown and Molly Rideout, along with poets like Andrew Payton, and dozens of other writers make the Midwest more than “flyover country,” to be ignored or patronized.
I grew up in the South, where we were told early and often that the South was America’s great literary soul. But the South is still trapped in its history of Race and Violence. The strength of Prairie Gold is how its writers show the evolution of the Midwest, as it grapples with a changing relationship with the land and natural environment and late twentieth century dismantling of American industry. Thus, the Midwest captured in these works is truly the heartland of American experience.”–Larry Baker, author, A Good Man and The Education of Nancy Adams
“Once again, Ice Cube Press steps up to the plate and hits home to us a book of creative writing – fiction, essays, and poems–that help us to hear the heartbeat of the American prairie. The selections, mostly by up-and-coming writers, provide a feast of words, ideas, and feelings not to be missed.”–Jonathan Andelson, Professor of Anthropology; Director, Center for Prairie Studies, Grinnell College
“An impressive collection of remarkable and varied voices that ranges from one end of the prairie to the other like a cyclone, stirring up new ideas and putting the kibosh on the view held by some that ‘flyover country’ lacks important voices in contemporary literature.” — David Zimmerman, author, Caring is Creepy and The Sandbox
“This anthology turns the earth of a too-often stereotyped Midwest, and startling, beautiful things grow. From its provocative introductions by well-known writers, to its works by many writers new to print, this is a collection to take seriously.” — Stephen Pett, author, Sirens and Pulpit of Bones
Lance M. Sacknoff earned his B.A. in English Writing at University of Pittsburgh and he recently earned his M.A. in English with a specialization in Literature at Iowa State University. Since arriving in Iowa, Lance acted as a technical editor on a manuscript by Paul L. Errington, a Midwestern biologist and conservationist influential in the field of predator-prey dynamics and a colleague of Aldo Leopold. Lance’s own scholarship focuses on environmental criticism with specific attention to human-environmental communication and ecosemiotics. Prairie Gold marks Lance’s first effort in compiling a Midwestern anthology.
Xavier Cavazos earned his MFA in 2013 from Iowa State University where he served as poetry editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and the Environment. Cavazos was the 2011 and 2012 “Discovery”/ Boston Review Poetry Award Runner-Up. His poetry manuscript, Diamond Grove Slave Tree, was a finalist for the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. The Poetry Society of America will publish his manuscript, Barbarian at the Gate, in 2014. Thomas Sayers Ellis selected the manuscript as part of the PSA’s New American Poets Chapbook Series. Cavazos currently teaches poetry and composition at Iowa State University.
Stefanie Brook Trout has always called the Midwest home. She currently lives and writes in Ames, Iowa, where she is a candidate in Iowa State University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. At ISU, Stefanie is an undergraduate English instructor, the nonfiction editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, the MFA Student Coordinator for the Everett Casey Nature Center and Reserve, and a leading member of several organizations including AgArts, which explores the intersection of agriculture and the arts. Stefanie holds degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Marian University in Indianapolis.