Representations of Home Creative Journal

ROAM - Summer/Autumn 2023 - ROAM 3


"The same stream of life that runs through the world runs through my veins night and day" Rabindranath Tagore


We are happy to present the third edition of ROAM. Taking as a starting point the uncertainty of times characterized by an altered world challenged by war, climate change and the pandemic, we have reflected on our usually stable motif of home. Since home’s intrinsic character of a sanctuary has been placed under scrutiny, we decided to invite submissions addressing shifting notions of its long-established essence. In response, we received poetry and prose from across the globe, including India, South Africa, Brazil, the United States, as well as Portugal and other European locations. The works that follow present images of movement and change, new life and cycles of life, often created from the work of memory.

With its broad cultural scope, the volume sheds new light on experiences of dislocation and loss, as well as the role of nature. As Kaja Rakušček writes in "At the tip of the world's edge", a poem of motion in which the human body mingles with the surrounding environment, "arms flail about/ like embers flung from the dancing flames/ and mix the morning air". In Thomas O'Grady's poem "Fledglings", nature takes the form of springtime and newly fledged birds, yet there is an air of shock and violence to this change: "They rattled the world like clashing sabres./ Life is hard./ Theirs and ours. /The air around us”.

Violence and its effects on home and homelands are acutely present in Olivia Rana’s prose work “Swimming Lessons” where the political and religious violence along the British-Irish border impacts school children. Questions of homelands are further raised in Jonaki Ray's "New Landmarks" which depicts the unfair treatment of migrant workers who return home because of the Covid 19 pandemic. While perhaps present in other works as a background element related to life, death and change, the pandemic is addressed directly in two other works: Dorothy Boshoff’s short story “Homegrown” where, in the absence of humans during lockdowns, monkeys enter a farm and compete for food, and in Lesley Saunders’ poem “Fever, Winter, Particulars” which appears in her essay “Writing Oneself Home”.

Saunders led the Creative Workshop of the University of Lisbon’s June 2023 Representations of Home conference, a project of which ROAM is part. “Writing Oneself Home” is her own Creative response to this ROAM edition.  In it she mediates on that which is portable when we move, such as music, song and dance, and on how “if you have not had time to pack your bag of belongings before you left, you still have your voice, the out-breath that carries your own sound, which is also the sound of your people, your home”. Diana V. Almeida shares a photographs and a text “Home Sweet Home” about travels to Patagonia, Chile where she witnessed the site of town Chaitén destroyed by a volcano in 2008.

Several works grapple with upheaval and disorder, including Sónia Aires Lima's poem "Things which benefit from disorder" where she speculates about a timeless recycling of life asking "But what if, /we are the exact same souls,/ Since the Creation of Time,/ Aimlessly roaming,/ Once and Once again". Disorder, and new orderings, are also present in Olivia Dawson's "Downsizing" where in moving house there is a "new(dis)order unsettling my space". In “home blues” Carla Soares addresses the everyday challenges of life: “our waking sleeping waking song.”  Rachael Franke addresses the subject of moving to a new country, in her prose piece "Finding home au bord du lac" in which being at home in a foreign country is fostered by making a new friend. Gabriel Franklin's prose piece "The scent of the ocean” questions the ability to return home concluding that "in order to go home, one must first smell the scent of the ocean".

Questions of home are intertwined with language in Franklin’s inclusion of Polish alongside English as is also the case in Joy Al-Sofi's poem "Technology Transfer"  which contains Chinese and Arabic letters and where the presence of technology is contrasted with the absence of that which is left behind: "We take iThings/What's left behind/Weightless as memory/Weighs much more". The loss of a living connection with language itself is poignantly conveyed in David Sampson’s poem “A lament for Yiddish” where Sampson reflects on the absence of the language of forefathers in his own life.

Evoked by memories, generations and family are likewise present in Maria Ribeiro’s prose piece “Weddings” which focuses on a child, her grandmother and the cultural aspects of weddings in an old Lisbon neighbourhood.  José Marques’ poem “One Life”  addresses family, culture, and the challenges of migration, concluding with an image of ashes scattered from the western walls of the community of Marvão, the  ancestral home in eastern Portugal.

We thank the authors for their rich contributions and hope that you also enjoy this new collection.

Mary Fowke, Jean Page and Zuzanna Zarebska


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