WRITER IN RESIDENCE
March 15-29, 2023
Laura Citino is a fiction writer, teacher, and bookmaker from Kalamazoo, MI. She received her MFA in fiction from Eastern Washington University in 2013 and has been published in numerous journals in print and online. She teaches writing, literature, philosophy, and media studies for the Academically Talented Youth Program at Western Michigan University, and has taught English, writing, and related subjects in a wide variety of educational settings and institutions. In addition to numerous teaching and significant educator honors, she was recently awarded an NEA-funded studio fellowship at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. She currently publishes and makes books under the Topophiliac Project.
During her time at Good Hart, Laura will be working on her first novel, an exploration of regionalism, intergenerational myth-making, and climate change. The novel tracks two separate and seemingly unrelated forces converging at once upon a fictional future Michigan: first, the dissolution, formally known as municipal disincorporation, of cities and towns, which occurs in both literal and surreal ways; and second, the gradual, eerie emergence of shipwrecks and other underwater detritus as the water level of the Great Lakes slowly declines summer to summer, revealing histories both known and unknown, claimed and unclaimed by the locals. The tension of histories and artifacts disappearing and reappearing at once is explored through a series of brief chapters and fragmented vignettes. The narration dips into one story, and specifically, one generation’s telling of a story, after another.
I am a fiction writer and essayist who explores notions of home, place, and regionalism in Michigan and the Midwest. “Topophilia” is a neologism from geographer Yi-Fu Tuan literally translating to “love of place,” which I have borrowed and expanded into the identity of the topophiliac, someone with an affinity for—to obsessive or at least mysterious degrees—the concept of place, from cities to rural environs, neighborhoods to census regions, street corners to yardsales. I consider myself a topophiliac, and so almost everything I write, create, and think about comes back to this central idea: an urgent curiosity and almost bodily desire to figure out the puzzle that is place and our identification with it.
My Midwest runs to the mythic, the disproportionate, the surreal, the absurd. Here, thunderstorms turn the air nuclear green, the doomsdays preppers are indistinguishable from the Bible thumpers, and blueberry festivals erect tents next to superfund sites. I am inspired by dystopian climate futures and the mundane apocalypse, Gothic and Southern Gothic traditions, post-industrial landscapes, and the very specific brand of Midwestern humor that spans the macabre to the undetectably wry. My writing experiments with fragmentation, found/form structures, compression, and braided narratives as well as photography, typography, and collage. Being from a place is less a fact than a process, and I am constantly on the hunt for artifacts, jokes, legends, maps, histories, and other ephemera to create what I hope forms a living taxonomy of what it means to be from this, or any, place.