Maureen Gibbon

in Osage, MN

recorded in Iowa City, IA

 

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Maureen Gibbon

This is Maureen Gibbon and I live near Osage, Minnesota. It’s in northern Minnesota, probably about an hour and a half away from Canada. I first moved to Minnesota because Prince was from the Twin Cities and I thought, “How can I go wrong?” But I really stared to love the state when I came to the northern part for summers to swim in the lakes and rent little cabins and it’s become my home and I have a little house on ten acres, and last night a little yearling black bear showed up right at the house looking very confused, and we have wild turkeys there and just lots of wonderful wildlife. I lived in New York City for a long time, and I love that too, but the lives that I find myself among now are animal lives and trees and wind and it is very much my home.


The Knox Writers’ House

Are you originally from the Midwest?


Gibbon

No, I grew up Pennsylvania, but I grew up in the county where the Appalachian Trail runs, so Minnesota is the flat version of my hometown. [Laughs.] I miss mountains, but I actually have found that I love flat places. I love western South Dakota. Prairie and flatness, you get that expanse and something inside me feels immediately calmed.


KWH

Do you think the Midwestern landscape or living in the Midwest influences your work?


Gibbon

I really think of myself as being very straightforward in the kind of language that I use and the way that I write. I’m plain spoken. I think some of those things are qualities that we think of when we think of Midwestern landscape. Something stripped down, pared down. And if that’s true, then I will definitely claim that, because I want to say things as directly as I can and without any fuss.


KWH

Do you think there’s a Midwestern voice?


Gibbon

No. I’m there in the north woods of Minnesota and I’m definitely writing stories that sometimes are set in that place, but sometimes what comes to mind when you say Midwestern or Minnesota is, “We get a lot of nature poetry,” or you might have different concepts that come to mind. People even think of Willa Cather in a certain way when they think of her work, and none of us are that easily described, I think.


KWH

We recorded a poet today who was born and bred here, lived here his whole life, and he said, “People use ‘Midwestern’ as a shorthand for something, and I don’t like what they use it for.”


Gibbon

Exactly. And we have all different kinds of voices coming from this area, so while I’ll say that I think that I am influenced by the landscape and the presence I see in the landscape, as well as the absence in the landscape, I don’t think that that all boils down to one kind of voice for the region.

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