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.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Full of words

Two things get me mentally ready for a trip: deciding what to pack, and reading about the places I’ll be traveling to. I’m still not sure what things to pack for the next two weeks --from university readings in Gettysburg, to formal dinners in Washington D.C., to visits to the old Jim Crow districts of Birmingham, to muddy strolls through the Louisiana rivers and swamps. In fact, the only packing decision I’ve made so far is this: no computer, just pen and notepad. The readings, on the other hand, have for a while now been taking my mind to Ford’s theatre, and to the Birmingham jail, and to the Lower Ninth Ward levees that, in August of 2005, gave way to what is perhaps the country’s greatest human catastrophe. It seems as though I’m leaving on this trip full of history and images. Full of words. What will I bring back with me, I wonder, in two weeks time? Earlier today, while reading a brilliant story by John Biguenet --a New Orleans writer we’ll soon be meeting--, I happened upon this line: “When one makes a trip, he comes home with stories.”

Eduardo Halfon