Friday, July 30, 2010

Guest Blog From Terri Kirby Erickson

Terri Kirby Erickson is the award-winning author of two collections of poetry, Thread Count (2006), and Telling Tales of Dusk (2009).  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in many literary journals, anthologies and other publications, including The Blue Fifth Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Eclectica, JAMA, Verse Daily, and many others, and has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net award.  For more information about her poetry and where to find it, please see her website at

by Terri Kirby Erickson

     One of the most emotionally charged words in the English language has to be “home.”  For good or ill, this is the place where our lives begin and often where they end, if we are fortunate.  For most people, hearing, reading or simply thinking about the word, “home,” conjures up feelings of warmth and comfort, love and acceptance—a portal through which we may enter either physically or emotionally, that seems almost magical in its ability to heal and to nurture our minds and bodies.  Above all, home is a “safe haven” in a world fraught with risk and uncertainty.
     Of course, one reason the word “home” is so powerful is because it is so much more than simply a place where we can lay our “weary” heads.  It is also an idea or set of memories that can inspire the same feelings of contentment and relief that we experience when pulling into our driveways after a long and tiring day.  It can be a mental as well as a physical respite—available to us any time, day or night, wherever we find ourselves.
     “Home” can also be embodied by a person or any number of people with whom we associate feelings of warmth and acceptance—our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, lovers or close friends.  When we are with these people or even thinking about them, we feel the utmost sense of connection and intimacy.  After all, they are the ones who know and love us just as we are, “warts” and all.  We often yearn to be in their company for at least long enough to gather the necessary resources to face the rest of civilization, since most people are not as kindly disposed to look over our quirks and faults.  In fact, the people outside of our “home circle” are often our competitors with whom we feel we must “measure up” in the work environment, even if we view them as cordial co-workers, valued team mates, and even friends.
     For all the reasons stated above, and because I’m one of the fortunate people who grew up in a loving and supportive environment, “home” is a recurrent theme in many of my poems.  Of course, I understand that homes can also be abusive and as frightening if not more so, than any place in the world at large.  But nothing and no one can control our minds, and we can create a haven for ourselves within the confines of our own imaginations, if nowhere else.  We all know what we need and want, even if our needs and wants aren’t being fulfilled.  It is my feeling that poems and stories that validate our ideas of what a home can or should be, give us something to work towards, something to imagine during the times when the reality is something quite different, at least for now—and I take this responsibility very seriously in my work.
     In my latest collection, Telling Tales of Dusk (Press 53), there are many poems that refer to various aspects of “home.”  In a poem called, “Star Lite Motel,” travelers find a welcoming oasis at a local “inn,” where “the name/Star Lite Motel shines through the windows like a benediction.”  In the poem, “Daisy Chain,” drivers pass a mother chatting with neighbors by the side of the road, whose children are gathered around her, creating a “scene like this:  belonging so/palpable, it beat like a heart/on the pavement."  And in the poem, “Oak Tree,” which refers to an old oak that is “leaning over a farmhouse where the same/family has lived for generations,” the oak is a symbol of stability as it “keeps watch outside their/little farmhouse, its arms spread wide/over their comings and goings…,” the very sight of which stirs the hearts and minds of those who dwell beneath its branches.

     In conclusion, I’d like to add that I believe “home,” whether it is an actual place, person, idea, or even a destination for our souls after death, which in my personal faith is referred to as “heaven,” is sacred to most human beings.  I’ve tried to find ways to express that feeling in my work, as well.  A quote from a poem of mine that hasn’t yet been published, called “Wayfarer,” might be a fitting example of what I mean by “sacred,” and an image upon which to close these remarks:

“He travels toward the horizon with the steady gait
of someone with a place to go, whose tender gaze
will soon find home, that place more sacred than
communion wafers nestled in the palms of angels.”

Peace and love,
Terri Kirby Erickson
July 30, 2010    


Rebecca Rasmussen said...

This idea of home is something that I think about constantly.

Thank you for sharing

Glenda Beall said...

I came home this week for the first time in a long while. I mean the home of my youth, but I found it is no longer home. My parents and some siblings are gone now, the home place belongs to another, the trees are too tall and the entire place is old.Home is now in my mind and in my own little place in the mountains.
Enjoyed this post.

Charlotte Holmes said...

Home seems to be a goal, a focus, a desire in so many stories. I think of Marilynne Robinson's beautiful novel "Gilead" and its companion, "Home," which plays on Frost's old notion that "home's the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." I just wrote a piece yesterday on my blog about dislocation, perhaps the shadow image of this, Terri. Thank you for so many good thoughts to mull over.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Here is a link to Charlotte's blog, in case anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments about "Home." It was a pleasure to write about a subject so close to my heart! I very much appreciate you, Rebecca, for inviting me to write something on your wonderful site. I'm looking forward to reading your book! All the best, Terri

ansley hayden said...

this is so wonderful! thank you many times over for sharing this with me. beautiful words. please continue to visit:

Jenne' R. Andrews said...

Hi Terry-- I love the delicacy and simplicity of your work. I also loved the point you made about creating an inner home, a refuge that is our true port in a storm, which so many of us from families that make a travesty out of "home" must do if we are to heal and have any quality of life. Take a look at Marueen's interview with me in the July archives on her blog Writing Without Paper if you haven't seen it. She quotes from my first and second books which very much deal with family, home and community and the intense of pain of loss--working toward inner redemption. BTW so glad to have you in Poets on She Writes. xxJenne'

Heather said...

Terri is an amazing writer and I love reading absolutely anything she writes. If y'all want to check out more of her work, she's in Issue #1 of The Basilica Review:

Way to go Terri!

Seán McGrady said...

This is a wonderful piece Terri...and it engaged me on a level I know well...a powerful level for those who have been exiled from their "home". And as someone who has taught and studied philosophy for most of his grown life and in particular that brand of philosophy known as existentialism, a central idea is "estrangement" in its many forms. It is all in one way or another gathered around the concept of what it is to be at "home"...the foundation of existence is that we find ourselves in the world...and it is in and through our "attitude" that we can find ourselves, and find ourselves at home, with ourselves and our our fellow human beings. But we can also lose ourselves in despair and anxiety.
Here Terri so eloquently traces the concrete meaning of what it is to be home.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

I am just so pleased to have Terri here blogging. She is insightful, warm, and lovely. Thank you all for leaving comments for her.

Rose Margaret Deniz said...

This subject is close to my heart considering I now live 10,000 + miles away from my birth home. Very interesting timing - I just wrote about home in my most recent blog post. Thank you, Terri!

Jubal Tiner said...


Thanks for the thoughtful prose. I think of us writer types who look for a "home" for our work as well.


Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Thank you everyone for continuing to support Terri. What wonderful visitors!

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate all the wonderful comments, and thank everyone for them. Thanks again, Rebecca, for your kind invitation to write a guest blog... I can't wait to read The Bird Sisters! :o)

Imagery by Kimberly said...

Beautifully written. Words for the mind and the soul and most importantly - the heart. Well done! It was an honor to read your work Terri. Bravo.


Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Terri is a lovely writer, isn't she? Thank you all for supporting her.

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