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I am heiden/heathen

This week, Megan M. Garr, author of the recently released Terrane, offers us the story of the book’s origins.

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Terrane began with a single word, which is not itself anywhere in the poem. Heide.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

heide – heiden
heath – heathen

definition

A semantic judgment based on a people’s relationship to the land.

Or, more precisely, on how they choose to use that land.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

Terrane was drafted in the summer of 2012 in Iceland. Between trips as far into the landscape as I could dare, in a rented SUV, were long writing days overlooking the Langjökull icecap.

I had saved for a year for this, what I called my self-funded residency, having gotten to the point that to write, I needed to leave Amsterdam entirely, be out of calling distance (if only virtually) from my work, my overpriced expatriate market apartment, my duties at Versal, which ran through every hour.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

In high school, my best friend Jennie and I fantasized about moving to Greenland. For us – until we discovered that there was a US air force base there – Greenland was untouched land, an escape, somewhere where we could start again.

Every day, from 1993-1997, I wore a pouch around my neck. In that pouch were tokens my friends gave me, souvenirs of my adolescence: a 20-sided die, a river stone, found pennies, a screw from the bleachers, a ring, a laminated map of Greenland…

…and many other little objects, now tucked in a shoebox at my childhood home in Nashville.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

At the bouldering gym in Reykjavik, I met a geologist who told me, “If you get lost in Greenland, you’re going to die. If you get lost in Iceland, just stand up. Someone will see you.”

I found out later that this “stand up” business is just an old Icelandic joke. After centuries of sheep grazing and logging for fuel, there are not many trees in Iceland.

When I came upon a Spanish family in their SUV, sinking in the Þórsmörk river, all I had to do was dial 112 on my mobile and flag down help further down the valley.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

I can confirm a sense of safety here, among the danger.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

I was among the stranded of the 2010 Eyafjallajökull eruption. Eyafjallajökull: the ice cap of the mountains of the islands. A stratovolcano of lavas ranging from basalt to andesite.

There’s a story behind Terrane that I’m not ready to tell. Not in prose, at least, where everything gets named for exactly what it is.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

But here in 2012, here in Iceland, driving within sight of Eyafjallajökull as often as I could, here I tried to tell it, here the telling began.

Megan M. Garr - TERRANE

Long days behind the artificial landscapes of my laptop, trying to write poems.

Long drives on roads like these, fording rivers.

Inhabiting open country.

As far as possible.

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Writing workshops at Dickinson House this spring!

Please feel very invited to this three-part writing workshop for “not writers” (but writers are also very welcome) this spring. The workshop will take place on Saturday afternoons in March (14), April (25) and May (9) for two hours each time, and each session will be built around strategies for approaching writing, suggestions for engaging in critique, writing exercises, and discussion of reading, all with the aim of helping participants find ways to approach writing as part of daily life (and thereby make writing something both possible and ordinary). We will also do some gentle workshopping (writing critique). You are welcome to come for one, two, or all of the sessions. Please book ahead of time; pay in cash on the day.

not-a-writer-flyerThe workshops are for anyone who is interested in writing, regardless of where they are in their practice now. Whether you write in English or another language; whether you write poetry or prose, the workshops are open to you. They are intended to offer a supportive and encouraging environment to begin writing as daily work, or to jumpstart a dormant practice. There will also be baked goods and hot drinks, fresh air, light, and lots of enthusiasm and excitement about writing.
 

 

 

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#VIDAcount

miel small press VIDA count poetry

We’ve published eight chapbooks/ books/ objects by women. Two more are forthcoming this year. We’ve also published two books by men, with three more forthcoming. Our literary magazine contributors include 41 men and 66 women.* (Thank you, writers and artists, for letting us print your work!)

We count and aim to pay attention to writing by underrepresented voices.

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* (We also know that a man/woman binary is an insufficient reflection of the actual diversity of our submitters and of the literary world more broadly. We know there’s more counting and accounting to be done. We accept the binary here as the rubric under which VIDA counts, and we say in concert with this counting: Hey you, with your voice of difference, we want to hear from you—we want to read your work. You count.)