Poetry and Home

This workshop explores ideas of home and belonging.

This morning we will:

Read two poems and one short extract from a novel, all of which share ideas about home in different we ways.

We’ll discuss how they work and how they make us feel. It’ll be interesting to see what memories or thoughts they evoke in each of us.

The texts

A.E Stallings (b. 1968), ‘Homecoming’

You can also hear an audio version of this poem here

Marilynne Robinson (b.1943), extract from her novel Home. 

You can read a review of this novel here. The extract we discussed is below.

‘It was being home that  made her remember, being alone in that silence, or sitting beside the irksome radio trying to read the book she had chosen as possibly the least unreadable among the hundreds of old books in the scores of shelves and bookcase that narrowed the  overfurnished rooms. […] Her father would rouse himself from time to time for a game of checkers or Monopoly. This was for her sake. In her childhood when she was kept home in bed by chicken pox, measles and mumps, or by the flu, her father came up t her room with a  bag of mints and a bottle of ginger ale and the Monopoly set, and  played a brief and hilarious game with her, pulling get-out-of-jail cards from his sleeves, losing his token in the bedspread and finding it behind her ear. Now from time to time he cheated for her benefit. He would slyly stop just short of landing on Boardwalk, when he had plenty of money to buy it and already owned Park Place. It made her sad. On the same grounds he was not to be trusted with the bank.’

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), ‘I Years had been from Home’

I Years had been from Home
And now before the Door
I dared not enter, lest a Face
I never saw before

Stare solid into mine
And ask my Business there —
“My Business but a Life I left
Was such remaining there?”

I leaned upon the Awe —
I lingered with Before —
The Second like an Ocean rolled
And broke against my ear —

I laughed a crumbling Laugh
That I could fear a Door
Who Consternation compassed
And never winced before.

I fitted to the Latch
My Hand, with trembling care
Lest back the awful Door should spring
And leave me in the Floor —

Then moved my Fingers off
As cautiously as Glass
And held my ears, and like a Thief
Fled gasping from the House —