Thank you to the mix of 45 returning and new participants representing a variety of countries, states, cities and medical/creative disciplines who converged for today’s workshop!
Our text was: “He Has Lived in Many Houses” by Thomas Lux, posted below. After a 10-second centering pause, we listened to two volunteers read this 1996 Thomas Lux poem about being someplace but seeking another, being home regardless of geography, and adapting to one’s surroundings. Participants then considered three questions: “What did you see in the poem? What did you hear in the poem? What did the poem smell like?” In the rich discussion, participants commented on how home is a point of reference, one that can be sacred and personal, and part of both travel and the traveler: an anchor, a sanctuary, an inner space. Participants spoke about the uniqueness of home, and noted the emotional foundation and sacredness intrinsic to the word “home” that may not necessarily be present in the same way with the word “house.” They were struck by the swaying rhythm of the poem, and highlighted how by starting each line with a small preposition, there was an ebb and flow to its rhythmicity. They were struck by the presence of a daily routine, a cycle, and the transition from past, present, and future tenses during the search for home. Briny shores, a fishing village and rust were among the olfactory associations made.
Our prompt was: Write about a sanctuary. Our four-minute prompt inspired writings linked to childhood (“a bestowed sanctuary”), intergenerational voices and tone, an appreciation for a sanctuary that “doesn’t talk back” and a construction of reality of map vs. mind. Participants wrote about how although there may be a journey to find home, home is not the final destination, as it is re-constructed along the journey of life. It moves, evolves, and is shaped by both internal and external forces. It is also both internal and external to the person who inhabits it, perhaps a physical exterior providing protection and safety while remaining internal, intrinsic, sacred to the heart of the inhabitant. On the other hand, we wondered whether what sanctuary is possible in a precarious world, and whether recognizing that childhood is a sanctuary means that the sanctuary’s protection has been broken. Participants were also inspired by the smells in the poem and incorporated sensory experience into their own work.
Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured. If you chose to draw, your are welcome to share as well, simply email your visual file to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add and credit it to the post here.
Please join us for our next session: Thursday, May 7th at 7pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.
We look forward to seeing you again soon!
He Has Lived in Many Houses by Thomas Lux furnished rooms, flats, a hayloft, a tent, motels, under a table, under an overturned rowboat, in a villa (briefly) but not, as yet, a yurt. In these places he has slept, eaten, put his forehead to the window glass, looking out. He's in a stilt-house now, the water passing beneath him half the day; the other half it's mud. The tides do this: they come, they go, while he sleeps, eats, puts his forehead to the window glass. He's moving soon: his trailer to a trailer park, or to the priory to live among the penitents but in his own cell, with wheels, to take him, when it's time to go, to: boathouse, houseboat with a little motor, putt-putt, to take him across the sea or down the river where at night, anchored by a sandbar at the bend, he will eat, sleep, and press his eyelids to the window of the pilothouse until the anchor-hauling hour when he'll embark again toward his sanctuary, harborage, saltbox, home. Originally published in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1992