This Wednesday February 4, Georgia Southern University and the Writing & Linguistics Department enjoyed a rare treat: a reading, workshop and q&a with poet, writer, and translator Sholeh Wolpe.
Wolpe’s very opening words struck the nostalgic mood of the reading and her subject matter: home is the missing tooth that tongue reaches for in the empty space. An immigrant myself, I immediately recognized the core, complex truth of those simple words. Wolpe left her home in Iran when she was thirteen years old, before the revolution that would eventually prevent her from returning, making her, in effect, an exile.
“An exile is someone who wants to go home but can’t,” she explained candidly to a rapt audience. Her early residence in Trinidad sprinkled her poems with vivid sensory images of a caribbean paradise, yet the longing for home permeates even the most uplifting poems.
“I finally decided,” said Wolpe of her long search for home, “that home is within the heart. We carry it inside of us.” She believes that if all people came to understand this, then we would all look to each other as “our people” and home would be everywhere. There would be no need for wars or separation based on religious or political differences.
“I’ve decided to make poetry my religion,” said Wolpe candidly. I wanted to stand up and applaud.