Friday, June 28, 2013

What is the "Rust Belt" Anyway?

So several days ago the Head and the Hand Press of Philadelphia ( was in my town (Detroit) promoting its new book: "Rust Belt Rising Almanac." I was there enjoying the music and storytelling and was asked to read my included poem, "The Straits," which was well received by a supportive audience.

"Rust Belt" is like the term "Midwest." Words which everyone thinks they understand until they are asked to define them. Then the precise meaning tends to slip away. I used to think that Michigan was Midwest until I lived for a time in Kansas City which I always thought of as "out west." Residents of that town told me that, without a doubt, KC is Midwest and Detroit is "back east." No way, I said. Way, they said.

"Rust Belt" is like that. What is the "Rust Belt" anyway? What cities qualify for that title? The Head and the Hand Press includes Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Philadelphia. Philadelphia? Since when? But why not, if the criteria is an old manufacturing town where the manufacturing base has declined along with the population base and the infrastructure (another word that defies definition).

In any event, other than my small contribution, the content of the "Rust Belt Rising Almanac" is fantastic and you should all get a copy, especially if you think you live in the Rust Belt.

Robert Tell, Author

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