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The Willowherb Review: El Lugar de Los Sueños

Isla San Francisquito

I’m pleased to have a new essay out in the latest issue of The Willowherb Review, a publication celebrating nature writing from emerging and established writers of colour:

“Why ‘Willowherb’? Chamaenerion angustifolium, commonly known as rosebay willowherb or fireweed, is a plant that thrives on disturbed ground. Its seeds do well when transported to new and difficult terrain, so some—not us—may call it a weed.” 

About The Willowherb Review

This issue explores the theme of habitation: What does it mean to inhabit a space? El Lugar de Los Sueños strives to weave natural history and personal meditation of one place, La Paz and the surrounding Gulf of California, into a coherent whole, mimicking the holistic stylings of The Log of the Sea of Cortez, the muse text that lies at the heart of the piece (and one I’ve explored before here on Ekostories). I was keen to revisit a location from a few years back, to retrace and revive the words of a beloved work, and also to form a new reality of a space I am conjuring from memory, a place known for its dream-like quality:

“Back on solid ground after six days at sea, my mind resisted stillness, continued to sway and shift. On the Sunday afternoon I meandered through La Paz. There was a familiar quality to the quiet hot streets; an air, a stirring, a flavour. I thought of how Steinbeck mused that he had never seen a town resembling this one, yet coming upon it was akin to returning rather than visiting. I lowered my head as I walked. Yes. I knew these closed shops with rolled down steel doors. The old men sitting on crates in front, fanning themselves. The chipped sidewalks with large uneven steps sloping towards the water. Then I spotted a sign that would cinch the connection—Bazar Hong Kong—and suddenly I am Marco Polo in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, describing to Kublai Khan in shared dreams all the fantastical places he had visited, like this La Paz, yet always through the lens of an initial city that remains implicit, through an unspoken homeplace, my version of Polo’s Venice. 

 

Then, again, Steinbeck: “…there comes a pang, some kind of emotional jar, and a longing.”

I’m honoured to be part of this diverse collection of voices from all around the world, which is so critical when it comes to the field of nature writing. I hope you have the chance to check out the entire issue HERE. Happy reading!

Read the Essay Here

Feature Image credit: Lela Sankeralli

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