Meditations on Travel

Marjorie Agosín
Translated and with an introduction by Nancy Abraham Hall
Prelude by Isabel Allende

Memories and reflections on exodus, migration, and moving beyond the familiar


"Cartographies is a book of profound inner explorations. Agosín captures the terrible beauty of exile and the exquisite ambivalence of homecoming. With her we journey to places she or her ancestors once inhabited and discover the sweet melancholy of belonging and yet not belonging. For Agosín, the poetry of travel is the poetry of life."
—Barbara Mujica, author of Frida

"A divine poetic intelligence cascades a tumult of images and metaphors as Agosín sweeps us away to far-off places—Krakow, Cairo, her beloved Chile. Intertwined with memories, bending time to serve her unhurried recall of exile, she evokes the fragrances of 'cemeteries wrapped in mist,' and her cartography charts the secrets that lie at the heart of all cities. Mystical, mysterious, and at the same time steeped in sensual detail, Cartographies takes us also on a journey that illumines and expands unexpected spaces in our minds."
—Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Cracking India

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On the impulse behind Cartographies, Marjorie Agosín 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, Agosín 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."

Agosín's journey begins in Chile, where she spent her childhood before her family left in the early days of the Pinochet dictatorship. Of Santiago Agosín writes, "Day and night I think about my city. I dream the dream of all exiles." Agosín also travels to Prague and Vienna, ancestral homes of her grandparents, and to Valparaíso in Chile, which received them as immigrants. Kneeling among the yellow mounds at the Terezin concentration camp, where twenty-two of her relatives died, Agosín 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 hope--from Julia, keeper of the synagogue at Rhodes, to the women potters in the Chilean town of Pomaire.

Agosín 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.

Page count: 160 pp.
Trim size: 5.375 x 7.5


List price: $19.95

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Marjorie Agosín, a human rights activist and writer, is a professor of Spanish at Wellesley College. Her many books include Dear Anne Frank, A Cross and a Star, and The Alphabet in My Hands. Agosín's honors include the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement, given by the Chilean government; the Letras de Oro prize; and the Latino Literature Prize.