In April 2011, the International Writing Program launched " Writers in Motion", a study tour of the Mid-Atlantic and the American South, where eight international writers are exploring the theme of "Fall and Recovery." The writers are traveling to Gettysburg (April 3-5), Baltimore (April 5-6), New Orleans (April 6-8), the Gulf Coast (Morgan City, the Achafalaya Basin, Lafayette, April 8-11), Birmingham, AL (April 11-12) and Washington, D.C. (April 13-15) to examine some of the challenges presented by historical crises and upheavals, both natural and social.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Too Important

I know this isn’t a travel log, or that it isn’t supposed to be. But anything you write as you travel becomes just that --a kind of fragmented diary of the places you visit and the people you meet. Thinking comes later. Reflection comes later. Now you just travel while trying to keep your eyes open and your step firm and your coffee warmer than your clichés. You go to the battlefields of Gettysburg, and everything there --the trees, the monuments, the crowds of tourists, the t-shirt shops and ghost tours-- makes you feel like a cynic. You’ve been there before. Perhaps in a high-school field trip. Perhaps with your parents. Perhaps through history books. You’ve already seen those fields and monuments. You’ve already heard the stories of Lee, and Meade, and Pickett’s charge. But now, suddenly, through the smoke and noise of a theme park, you sense it. There it is. You can’t yet name it, but you know it’s there, and you decide to hide it away somewhere so you won’t have to sense it too much, or talk about it, or even think about it, and you drive down to Baltimore. You also know about Baltimore. You’ve been to Baltimore before. You start walking through the streets of west Baltimore. You see all the boarded-up houses: blocks and blocks of abandoned houses. You take a few snapshots. There’s no one there. You think of dead bodies decomposing. And there it is again. Unavoidable. Unmistakable. Now you have to see it. You have to write it down in your travel log. You have no choice. It’s too large, too ominous, too important.
Eduardo Halfon

No comments:

Post a Comment