Points of Reference: I Am Here

by Corinna Cook

The mountain doesn’t know you’re an expert.

This is how my family reminds each other that life alongside mountains must by necessity be humble. By necessity alert. The tear-shaped island in Alaska on which I grew up has steep, rainforested mountainsides. It has dark, rocky shores. And it has a two-lane bridge to the mainland, where the rest of town is a capital city busy with state politics but rimmed by an icefield so that no road links our community to any other community. Because of this, we have a special responsibility to take care of each other.

Continue reading “Points of Reference: I Am Here”

Girl on the Beach

by Nora-Lyn Veevers

Joaquin Sorolla painted this sun-soaked oil in 1910 on the coast in Valencia, Spain. I discovered Sorolla in the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga, Spain two years ago.  I love the luminosity of his paintings. A young girl stands on the shore and looks out; the waves fold in on each other; her body toasts in the heat of the day and her gaze rests on a horizon. Continue reading “Girl on the Beach”

The Chapel of Man and All That Endures

by Daryl Farmer

Bookstores, for me, are sacred spaces and it’s my practice to visit them wherever I go, even in countries where I don’t speak the language. I hold the books in my hands, open them, look at words I don’t understand. In Quito, Ecuador, we – my wife Joan and I – discovered just such a place, connected to a coffee shop half a block from our hotel in the quiet neighborhood where we were staying. The shop owner was very kind, and in him I found a kindred spirit, a fellow lover of books, and astronomy, and travel. I told him we had two days to spend in Quito, and asked what we should see. He pulled a book from the shelf, and handed it to me Continue reading “The Chapel of Man and All That Endures”

Reading Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s Poetry After Visiting The Visitors

by Rebecca Fish Ewan

My first impression of Iceland formed in 1980, my college freshman year, when I learned in geology class that Iceland was the youngest land on Earth. Young in the sense that new ground emerged from a molten womb all day and every day without end. I yearned to visit this infant place. It took thirty-six years to realize this desire and by then I had heard that people lived there too.

To prepare for my trip to Iceland, I bought a map and a small stack of books—The Sagas of Icelanders, Halldór Laxness’s Independent People, Oddný Eir’s Land of Love and Ruins, Eva Heisler’s Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic, Alda Sigmundsdóttir’s The Little Book of Hidden People and The Little Book of Icelandic, as well as the Iceland Pocket Guide. I listened to bits of books read in Icelandic, tried to learn phrases and words, hoping to find an occasion on my travels to say bergmálor sindrandi, words for echo and shimmering that seemed to emerge from the landscape like magma. I was convinced that the best way to get to know a country was through its landscape, literature and language.

Continue reading “Reading Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s Poetry After Visiting The Visitors”

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