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On the impulse behind Cartographies, Marjorie Agosn writes, I have always wanted to understand the meaning of displacement and the quest or longing for home. In these lyrical meditations in prose and poetry, Agosn evokes the many places on four continents she has visited or called home. Recording personal and spiritual voyages, the author opens herself to follow the ambiguous, secret map of her memory, which does not betray.
Agosn's journey begins in Chile, where she spent her childhood before her family left in the early days of the Pinochet dictatorship. Of Santiago Agosn writes, Day and night I think about my city. I dream the dream of all exiles. Agosn also travels to Prague and Vienna, ancestral homes of her grandparents, and to Valparaso in Chile, which received them as immigrants. Kneeling among the yellow mounds at the Terezin concentration camp, where twenty-two of her relatives died, Agosn places small stones, shrubs, the stuff of life on graves I did not recognize.
And then on through the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Americas . . . Everywhere, she is drawn to women in whose devotion and creativity she sees a deep vein of hopefrom Julia, keeper of the synagogue at Rhodes, to the women potters in the Chilean town of Pomaire.
Agosn writes of diaspora, exile, and oppression, yet only to highlight the dignity and valor of those who find refuge in their humanity and their art, in community and tradition. Cartographies shows us what can be found when we journey with openness, as approachable to strangers as we are to ourselves.
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