Ohio and Ohio Valley writers and writing, literary and cultural history with occasional ventures into the greater Midwest and Upper South.

James Whitcomb Riley’s “Little Orphant Annie”

By buckeyemuse | October 30, 2017

James Whitcomb Riley’s “Little Orphant Annie” is one of the Hoosier poet’s most beloved and well-known poems, one which has endured and become part of the folk memory of generations of Americans. “Little Orphant Annie” stands alongside “Out to Old Aunt Mary’s,” “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole,” and “When The Frost Is On The Punkin” as…

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John Dos Passos on Eugene Debs: “Lover of Mankind”

By buckeyemuse | October 19, 2017

The novelist John Dos Passos (1896-1970) gave us one of the great fictional treatments of the United States coming of age during the early twentieth century in his trilogy U.S.A., which consists of The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). The trilogy follows a series of characters through the early years…

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“Summer” From Sherwood Anderson’s “Home Town”

By buckeyemuse | August 17, 2017

Summertime. The good ol’ summertime. Time for vacation, barbecues, long hours by the water. Corn on the cob and homegrown tomatoes, hot dogs and hamburgers, root beer and iced tea. The sounds of lawnmowers, kids splashing in the pool, a crowd at a baseball game. In my part of the midwest–southwestern Ohio– it can start…

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The Waters of Mortality: James Whitcomb Riley’s “The Old Swimmin’-Hole”

By buckeyemuse | August 6, 2017

Brandywine Creek flows leisurely through Indiana’s Shelby, Hancock and Franklin Counties. It is a tributary of the Big Blue River, whose waters successively empty into the Driftwood, White and Wabash rivers, part of the great, interlaced network of waterways draining into the Ohio and then the Mississippi, bound for the Gulf of Mexico. In Greenfield,…

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The James Whitcomb Riley Home in Greenfield, Indiana

By buckeyemuse | July 5, 2017

As a child, the poet James Whitcomb Riley liked to watch the westward bound wagons, stagecoaches and carriages traveling on the National Road past his home. He’s still doing it today. The horse-drawn vehicles have been replaced with pickup trucks, SUV’s and cars, but he still sits watching. The Riley who watches now is a…

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Congratulations, Graduate: Ernest Hemingway, Class of ’17

By buckeyemuse | June 14, 2017

Ernest Hemingway… What comes to mind when you hear the name? The famous author big-game hunting on the African savannah? The young aspiring writer in a Paris cafe, drinking cafe au lait and rum and writing about Michigan? The war correspondent on the front lines in the Spanish Civil War, or traveling with the U.S.…

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“A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish”: Ernie Pyle on the Normandy Beachhead

By buckeyemuse | June 9, 2017

Ernie Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana on August 3, 1900, was one of the great American journalists of the twentieth century. He is one of the most famous correspondents of the Second World War, a man who riveted readers with his simple and direct accounts of life in the war zones and his skill at…

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“Spring” from Sherwood Anderson’s “Home Town”

By buckeyemuse | May 22, 2017

Sherwood Anderson published a book called Home Town shortly before departing for Latin America in March of 1941 to write articles for Reader’s Digest about Latin American nations and people. He was also traveling as a kind of unofficial goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department as the threat of war intensified for the United States. It…

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“Faithful to our God and Our Cause”: Ohio Soldiers Celebrate Passover, 1862

By buckeyemuse | April 14, 2017

On a spring night in West Virginia, twenty Union soldiers gathered in a log hut. Before them were cooked lamb and chicken, eggs, barrels of cider, strands of some bitter herb and stacks of matzos, the unleavened flatbread of Jewish tradition. These twenty men were Jewish soldiers of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry gathered together…

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