Phil Christman

Midwest Futures

How to Be Normal

 Phil Christman is the author of Midwest Futures and How to Be Normal: Essays. He is at work on his third book, Public Facts, also for Belt. He teaches first-year writing at the University of Michigan and is the editor of the Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing


Why I Love Belt
For as long as I have been writing about the Midwest, I've been paying attention to Belt. When Anne reached out about turning my essay "On Being Midwestern" (Hedgehog Review, Fall 2017) into a book, it seemed like a very natural fit. And then I had a great experience at every step of the process. The most useful feedback I've ever gotten on my writing has all come from either Barbara McClay (who used to edit me at Hedgehog Review) or from the Belt team. They're an ideal press for a writer with a small but devoted audience, which is basically what I am. I don't have an agent, but Anne and the rest of the Belt team have worked harder for me than some of my friends' agents work for them. And it's nice to work with people I like. 

Recommended Titles
Vivian Gibson's The Last Children of Mill Creek is one of those books that shows how the particular can be universal—how the particular is the most reliable way to the universal, if you pay close enough attention to it. Raechel Anne Jolie's Rust Belt Femme is the rare book that can get away with namechecking a bunch of awesome songs and not suffer by the comparison. Zach Mortice's Midwest Architecture Journeys is just gorgeous—the book that finally does justice to the poetry of grain silos. Mark Athitakis's The New Midwest is a really thoughtful and readable example of public literary intellectualism. I am only scratching the surface. 

Where to Find Me
On Twitter @phil_christman

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