Ohio. How is the state, the landscape, the word itself used in literature? As a community to be idolized or escaped, as a locale of unexpected mystery? Or, simply, as a bouncy amphibrach (unstressed-stressed-unstressed) to end a line?
In stories and poems, Ohio often seems to stand for America itself, or at least a certain slice of America. It is sometimes meant to indicate Industrial and Rural and Suburban. It can be gritty or pure, used for nostalgia, or to create a par- ticular kind of speaker. And its history has certainly contributed to its literary import. But we were curious about the speci c ways writers have employed our home in the past, and how they might use it today.
Certainly, it is a place that characters love and hate, an idea that must be contended with. And we are convinced, having read thousands of poems and stories mentioning particular spots, that Ohio is one of the most versatile (and sonically pleasing) of all of them.
For the following feature, we asked five writers to reflect on the state that’s often referred to as “The Heart of It All.”