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~In Cartographies, Wellesley's Marjorie Agosín Travels World,
Searching for Home and Hope

For immediate release:
March 31, 2004

Arlie Corday,

WELLESLEY, 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 around themselves."

A 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 Higher Education.

In 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.

Calling 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.

In 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."

Agosín 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."

Agosín 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.

Since 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.


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  • Date Modified: March 30, 2004
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