Sunday 29 October 2017

Self as Hometown (or hometown as self)

The idea of hometown is something that I have been exploring in my writing recently - exactly what hometown means to me, where my hometown is, what it is/was like, what effect the environment that I grew up in had on me etc. I have often found myself perplexed by the term hometown - people often ask me what my hometown is and I am never really sure how to answer them. Is it the place I was born, the place where I spent my formative years, or is it the place that I have lived in for the longest amount of time? Or is it the place that I am most drawn to - the place that feels like home? In these migratory times I suspect that there are many people who feel just as rootless as I do. I rather envy people like my son, who was born, grew up and still lives in the same place. I usually answer the question by saying where I grew up, the place where I spent my formative years. This is the place that I am revisiting in some of the poems for my new collection, not just the place itself, but the people and the attitudes of the place and time. Hometown also suggests to me the idea of self and selfhood, as if the self is a type of hometown whose streets and borders change over the years much like those of a real town. Buildings are knocked down and newer modern ones are erected. The self, of course, operates within the language and parameters of the actual hometown. It is, when one starts to examine it, a many layered, multi-faceted thing. And, of course, our recognisable self begins to be formed in our hometown during our formative years, it is moulded by our families and schools, the people we meet and the experiences we have - both good and bad. I am not sure exactly where the collection is going to go, but I am finding it an exciting process getting there.