Audio Archive

Bodeen, Jim

Beginning in all.
Not one short cut
to get to my bus.

Five years ago I was given a word, Storypath/Cuentocamino. Two slammed-together nouns in English and Spanish. No handbook, no definition. I left classroom teaching after 33 years where I had a dual life with teaching and poetry. I carry a notebook and a camera and write everyday. Writing poems, taking testimony, and documentary photography is what I’ve been doing. Storypath/Cuentocamino has taken me inside a rancho, La Cuestita, Michoacán, Mexico; El Salvador where I spent a month walking with Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gómez, called the Bishop of Peace. I rode the Peace Train from Meridian, Mississippi to Washington, DC. I have been to Honduras, invited by people representing Pure Water for the World, and Adelante, a micro-lending program primarily for women. I return to La Cuestita on a regular basis. My wife and I have traveled the length of Vietnam, where we began our relationship in letters over 40 years ago, when I worked in medical evacuation at the 85th Evac Hospital.

Storypath/Cuentocamino is taking me into deeper explorations of testimony/testimonio, witnessing, and the relationship of poetry and listening. I’m not an expert in anything. I’m a beginner. In Spanish the word is principiante.

I have made numerous short retreats to Holden Village, an ecumenical Lutheran Retreat Center/former mining town, above Lake Chelan where I have given short workshops and participated in extended conversations involving poetry, prayer, and listening.

This is a dirt road. On a return trip to El Salvador, I visited six repopulated, or demobilized communities. A journalist tells me that Globalization and Free Trade Agreements may be the only conversation we can afford to have. I only want to talk about the poem, and how each poem helps shape the conversation with a stake in the outcome.

The Poetry Pole touches earth and sky. East and West carved into the Pole a dozen years ago, the past several years have called me North and South. Each direction is a grandfather. My wife and I have been given grandchildren and care for them several days a week. My mother, in her 80’s has moved to Yakima. We feel blessed with our lives in the margins where poetry is one of several inclusive centers.

June 2009

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