Home is a theme that I have been writing about for years. I am a pilgrim on this amazing planet and I have traveled and moved far more often than most. The yearning for home and finding community, refuge, and sanctuary is the sound track to my adult years. In the excerpt below you'll see why. I believe that home is in the center of our being and in the Arms of the Divine, a breath apart from meaning the same thing.
Holy Cow! Press has just published an anthology on this topic: The Heart of All That Is. This beautiful collection includes poetry and prose from local writers that I know personally such as Margarette Hasse, Cary Waterman, Ethna McKiernan, Jill Breckenridge, Mary Kay Rummel, and writers I have yet to meet: Karen Herseth Wee, Miriam Weinstein, James Cihlar, Alice Owen Duggan, Molly Sutton Kiefer, Linda Kantner, Julie Landsman, Amy Nash, and Ellen Shriner, and writers that I admire such as Marge Piercy and Naomi Shihab Nye.
Available at www.holycowpress.org and through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, this collection makes an excellent Christmas present. The work ranges from nostalgia to escape, from roots to homelessness, from where we feel a sense of belonging to where we can spread our wings and fly.
I hope if you live in the Twin Cities, you'll join us for the book launch on Nov 9 at Subtext Books.
While spending a month in Oaxaca, I brought along Neruda's book of poems called Isla Negra. In the foreword, Alastair Reid says that it was not a systematic autobiography in poem form "but a set of assembled meditations on the presence of the past in the present." It followed the chronology of his life. "This is cool!" I thought. "I could do that. I could write poems about the places where I have lived." I made up a list, starting with the first sub-let when I moved out of my parent's home in Pennsylvania after high school. I was stunned to count forty-two places, not including the casita I was currently renting in Oaxaca. The locations started on the East Coast, went to the Southwest, zigzagged all over the West, from Colorado to Seattle, from Montana to California. My travels culminated in an exodus out of the country to Belize and Mexico, over to Spain, the Canary Islands, Greece, and Israel.
No wonder I related to the Jewish people! When I arrived off the boat in Haifa, I felt as though I had finally come home, returning from exile to sanctuary. This traveling was with a group of people and never felt like homelessness because we lived the same lifestyle. We owned one set of clothes, following our mantra, "Travel light.” We lived a life of self-discipline, ignoring personal comfort, having few material possessions.
But did I live this nomadic lifestyle simply as an imposition of the dictates of our “guru" or was it the natural result of my yearning to travel as a child? I day-dreamed of hitch-hiking to exotic places, of being a Gypsy and a wanderer. I had an insatiable curiosity about the world and the people in it, a desire to be “footloose and fancy-free.” When I stuck my thumb out on the side of the road, slept on Spanish beaches, or hiked up curving forested roads, I was not aware that here was my day dream come to life. I never thought to myself, “Gee, this is exactly what I asked for when I was young.”
--excerpt Seeking Sanctuary from The Heart of All That Is, Wendy Brown-Baez