Book of the Week: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Thank you, Mary, for the gift of Wild!  This is an exceptional memoir that has been percolating with me all week…and all day, since I put it down, complete, after my second coffee.  Because of this reading, I’ve been seeing everything through this particular lens all day..

It causes me to treasure, in my heart, more than even is possible, my beautiful family near and far.  I feel very grateful for my mother and my father.  It forces me to consider ‘letting go’…allowing my adult children to make choices on their own, in order to celebrate and learn about who they really are.

Thirdly, it came to me at a good time because I’ve been considering and researching the possibility of walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela lately.  It’s a pipe dream, given that my readers know, I am the owner of a fairly neurotic border collie and he is ONLY four years old.  Yes.  There are some road blocks…but I definitely see this as a possibility.  I am praying about it and tucking away travel money as I go along.  I will watch for the opportunity and for the doors to open.

In the meantime, the author’s exploration of the Pacific Coast Trail shares such an amazing story of courage, fortitude and healing.  I highly recommend this book for any one who has known that intimate experience of wilderness and what that wilderness can teach you.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Disposing of Journals

I was especially moved by this poem.  It got me thinking about all of the journals I’ve written and what has and should happen to them.  I wrote this as a comment…and my own words also had me thinking.

Five Journals

I was particularly fond of one journal that I kept through university…as I recall, I wrote down things while sitting on the bus. I always looked at people on the bus, even in the middle of winter, as candidates for a short story one day or even a novel. But along with those notes, were the notes of my personal challenges and dilemmas as a woman. Those were the parts of my journal that I wanted to disappear, so along with those, were tossed the descriptions that I so wanted to hold on to.

I didn’t burn that journal…instead, I went for a very long autumn walk through city alleys. (weird, I know) I wanted someone to pick up the anonymous messages of my heart…somehow…even the seagulls, if finally the journal made its way to the dump…I wanted the screeching birds to be witness to my life. So, eventually, I found a garbage can, an open one without a lid and I tossed my words and a piece of my heart into the wide open mouth and hoped the words would speak to someone. Thank you for the poem. It is ‘my kind’ of poetry and it really spoke to me, not just because of the subject, but because of its fumbling through the ‘inside fireplace and smoke’ types of moments.

I write in journals still.  I always write with intention now, however, knowing full-well that one day some one may choose to read my words.  I think it’s a big breakthrough when a writer first considers her readers.  For example, a blog is a very public journal and authenticity only goes so far.  There are limits to what writers write.  There is a fine line between the facts and the fiction. Also, as I read entries by other writers, I keep in mind that I am privy to an image they wish to project, not necessarily their own image.  Does that make sense?

Lifetime Archives


From Harvey River: a memoir of my mother and her people

A recent ‘read’, A Memoir of my Mother and Her People From Harvey River by Lorna Goodison, gives a beautiful account of a writer-poet who journeys through several generations through to the present.  From the inside jacket…

“When Doris Harvey’s English grandfather, William Harvey, discovers a clearing at the end of a path cut by the feet of those running from slavery, he gives his name to what will become his family’s home for generations.”

Given my interest in ancestry and my search for the narratives of my own family, the structure of Lorna Goodison’s account was of tremendous interest to me.  I’ve toyed with the idea of writing my own memoir at some point, but am sometimes uncertain about how to protect the ‘living’ from the honesty of a family’s beginnings.  Goodison is successful, I think.  An excellent book for those who enjoy historical accounts.

I would like to include here, a poem by Lorna Goodison.  This poem found on this site.

Guinea Woman by Lorna Goodison 

Another from the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

Guinea Woman
By Lorna Goodison

Great grandmother
was a guinea woman
wide eyes turning
the corners of her face
could see behind her
her cheeks dusted with
a fine rash of jet-bead wars
that itched when the rain set up.

Great grandmother’s waistline
the span of a headman’s hand
slender and tall like a cane stalk
with a guinea woman’s antelope-quick walk
and when she paused
her gaze would look to sea
her profile fine like some obverse impression
on a guinea coin from royal memory.

It seems her fate was anchored
in the unfathomable sea
for her great grandmother caught the eye of a sailor
whose ship sailed without him from Lucea harbor.
Great grandmother’s royal scent of
cinnamon and scallions
drew the sailor up the straits of Africa,
the evidence my blue-eyed grandmother
the first Mulatta,
taken into backra’s household
and covered with his name.
They forbade great grandmother’s
guinea woman presence
they washed away her scent of
cinnamon and scallions
controlled the child’s antelope walk
and called her uprisings rebellions.

But, great grandmother
I see your features blood dark
in the children of each new
the high yellow brown
is darkening down.
Listen, children
it’s great grandmother’s turn.