Mass. --Can travel bring one closer to one's true heart
and home? In Wellesley College Spanish Professor Marjorie
Agosín's new book, Cartographies: Meditations
on Travel (University of Georgia Press, April 2004),
the prolific author of nearly 20 books of poetry, fiction,
nonfiction and essays evokes destinations among four
continents that represent a personal and spiritual voyage.
"Cartographies speaks about travel as a way of inner knowledge and as
a possibility to know oneself," Agosín says. "It
encourages people to become travelers, which is a metaphor
to become free and trusting. I want this book to encourage
people to cross borders, mostly the ones they create
human-rights activist and a poet, Agosín was nominated
this year for the prestigious Newstad Prize for world
literature. Her work has been profiled in Haddasah
Magazine and The Chronicle of
prose and poetry, Agosín's new book, which was translated
by Nancy Hall, a senior lecturer in the Wellesley College
Spanish Department, recounts a journey that begins in Chile,
the country her family left in the early days of the Pinochet
dictatorship. She moves onto Prague and Vienna, ancestral
homes of her grandparents. Kneeling before graves at the
Terezin concentration camp, where 22 of her relatives died,
Agosín places "small stones, shrubs, the things
of life on those graves I did not recognize." Progressing
through the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe and the
Americas, her travels reveal new inspiration from many women
whose devotion and creativity offer hope for the world.
herself a "wandering Jew paying tribute to her origins," Agosín
identifies with all exiles searching for a history and
a home. While writing of diaspora and oppression, she
highlights the dignity and bravery of those who find
refuge in art, community and tradition. "I have
always wanted to understand the meaning of displacement
and the quest or longing for home," Agosín
says of her quest.
a prelude to the book, author Isabel Allende notes, "Marjorie
Agosín's poetic language engages the reader in
a mesmerizing journey of inward reflection. With these
prose poems as our guide, we traverse history's darkest
places yet are reminded of the human spirit."
has won widespread praise from fellow writers including
Barbara Mujica, author of Frida. "Cartographies is a book of profound inner explorations," Mujica
said. "Agosín captures the terrible beauty
of exile and the exquisite ambivalence of homecoming.
With her we journey to places she or her ancestors once
inhabited and discover the sweet melancholy of belonging
and yet not belonging. For Agosín, the poetry
of travel is the poetry of life."
has won numerous awards for her human-rights work as
well as the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Lifetime
Achievement, given by the Chilean government; the Letras
de Oro prize; and the Latino Literature Prize.
1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in liberal
arts and the education of women for more than 125 years.
The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to
2,300 undergraduate students.