Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Bro From The Yo Shouts Out

As many people know, I left my grandparents' little farm to go to college about an hour away in a post-industrial steeltown called Youngstown back when I was still completely unequipped with life skills for living anywhere but in a midwestern farmtown. When I finally got even an hour away, my life completely changed and even though the city was a bit of a timewarp town full of ghosts I felt like I could breathe wider and do some growing up. Which I did. Youngstown will always be the place where the foundation for who I am now was forged, and my roots will always be there, as they are on that little farm too, and now in Japan, because it nourished me at a time in my life when I was growing and needed a place to become who I was becoming. Youngstown isn't on most people's radar as even existing (although I hope to change that a little, as other Ohio writers have done in the past, such as Sherwood Anderson). It's hard to explain the experience of living in a city such as Youngstown, which is the sort of city that, like Flint, Michigan, illustrates how the United States government has failed an entire community, and proved that the American Dream was false advertising from the start. It's been abandoned by everyone except for those who can love something that's dying.

So with this sense of isolated experience in mind, I am always happy to find connections with other people, those I've known or not know until they read one of my stories and also have some connection to Youngstown and contact me about it. Recently an old college friend, Eric, found me online and we were able to swap some emails back and forth for a bit and catch up. And he has his own blog where he posts his own form of craziness and bits of his excellent poetry on occasion. He has a poem in the most recent issue of Wicked Hollow so go buy it, and he's also just posted his thoughts on reading my story "Dead Letters" in the most recent Realms of Fantasy, and well, he just totally appreciated all the little bits in it that I figured another Northeastern Ohioan would resonate with, which made me really happy. Luckily when these bits aren't the resonant point for readers unfamiliar with this type of regional American culture, AKA the Rustbelt, bordering on the Biblebelt, other things are around to be liked. But I really did enjoy reading his thoughts. Which he was always good at (we had a creative writing class together, among others). He's an excellent poet, so search around his blog and site and see what odds and ends turn up for your reading pleasure.

Oh, and "the Yo" in the title of this post stands for Youngstown. Some people used to refer to it that way. Although now I wonder what has gone on to change there since I left. I guess in a few months I'll get to find out when I go home and make a visit.


Blogger E.R. Carlin said...

Hey, thanks for the shout out. I hope you will come visit us sometime after you get back. Heather and I are a block away from a section of the Underground Railroad. And that sounds exciting, even though it's just an old path through the woods.

Where will you be staying when you get back?

8:15 AM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

It'd be great to catch up. At first when I get back I'll be at my folks' place back in Kinsman for a few weeks, trying to settle down a bit and get my bearings. After that I'm going to a writers convention in Wisconsin and after that probably I'll just drive around from state to state maybe and stay with friends and visit, and look for work in towns I like. I really have no clue what I'm doing, as usual. Just making it up as I go along. So I'll try to make it up your way while I'm driving around.

8:19 AM  

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