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On Going Home: An Introduction

The morning of November 8th, 2011 was a drizzly one in Iowa City. Snow had been predicted for later in the week, but the IWP's fall residents were going to miss it as they were headed to Washington D.C. and New York City. As is does each year, the trip to the east coast would mark the official end of the IWP's fall residency.

For nearly three months, these residents had lived in the U.S., had travelled domestically, and had experienced so much of the culture and literature of the U.S. and the Midwest. But it was hard not to wonder what it would be like for them to return home. What would the journey home be to someone like Josephine Rowe, who'd be trading her Iowa autumn for an Australian spring? What about Usha K.R., who'd found Iowa a chilly contrast to the climate of her native Bangalore? Would she miss the crisp air even a little?

In an attempt to answer those questions and many more, the IWP asked a handful of our 2011 fall residents if they’d be willing to write about the experience of returning home. We sent them a link to Joan Didion’s essay “On Going Home” as a sort of starting point, thinking that perhaps Didion’s ambivalence, excitement, nostalgia, and regret regarding her familial home might resonate for a writer who’d just travelled halfway around the globe to attend a writing residency in the heart of the U.S.

Happily, many of our writers agreed to tell us about returning home after the residency, and for the next several week, we’ll be periodically posting these short essays here on the Shambaugh House Blog. We’ll also be pairing the short essays with a representative photograph chosen by the author, something that captures what “home” means to them. Accordingly, we’ve posted this beautiful 1920s photograph of Shambaugh House, home to the IWP.

The first installment of this series of essays comes from Lynley Hood (New Zealand). We've got more pieces from around the globe in the coming weeks, so check back in for more!



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