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In the heart of the Little Balkans, Pittsburg, with a population of around 20,000, is the home of Pittsburg State University. In this coal mining region, and hub of immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, over 40 languages might be heard on Broadway on a Saturday night. Strongly pro-labor, and one of the few traditionally Democratic strongholds of Kansas, Pittsburg has a colorful history of strikes and strike-breaking, including the famous Amazon Army of women, who marched in support of the miners.
Gene DeGruson, long-time Special Collections Librarian at the Axe Library on the PSU campus, writes in his poetry collection, Goat's House, about growing up in the mining camps. Al Ortolani, in his The Last Hippie of Camp 50, also mines this territory.
Since 1985, poet Stephen Meats, longtime faculty member of the PSU English Department, has been poetry editor of Midwest Quarterly, which features some of the best work of Kansas poets. Other faculty writers associated with PSU are Laura Lee Washburn, Karen Stolz, and Charles Cagle. Poet James Tate went to PSU and was mentored by Gene DeGruson. Poet Margaret Haughawout and folklorist Vance Randolph, who was born in Pittsburg in 1892 and is closely associated with the Ozarks, but who wrote a novel, Hedwig, need more work to put their writing in context. Newberry Award-winning Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool, is inspired by her knowledge and research into nearby Frontenac, Kansas. Melissa Fite Johnson's While the Kettle's On (Little Balkans Press) was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2016.
The map photograph is "The Castle," once the home of Gene DeGruson and built in 1930 by A. Staneart Graham. Made of mostly recycled materials, only the cement is new.