Home is a relative term, especially if you have grown up overseas. Where is it? Who am I? What’s it all about? Lee Woodman’s collection, Homescapes, takes us on a soul-expanding journey in three parts, “India,” “America,” “Stereoscope.” Woodman paints the sounds and smells of unusual environments, exposes sensuality in nature, and reveals the sweet ache of relationships everywhere.
Venturing into new territory, she connects with children in a small Indian village in Nilokheri, and climbs the thirteen-thousand-foot Rohtang Pass at the edge of Tibet. An audience with the Dalai Lama in Mussoorie touches her spirit; questions from an American high school homeroom teacher in New Hampshire challenge her wit. She puzzles at how to make sense of country fairs and freezing New Hampshire winters. At the end of Homescapes, Lee chooses a poem set at a burning ghat in India where, 47 years after she’d left that country, she lowers symbolic clay lamps for her father and three marigolds for her mother to float down the Ganges.
Crossing cultural lines is a joy and a challenge and an opportunity to learn: Lee never stops searching for what it means to be American, digs deep to understand her New England roots, and ponders intimate relationships, persistently asking, “Where—and what—is home?”
“Lee Woodman takes us to life in India and then to New Hampshire—with precise detail – so we are there, with no limit to the richness of story or the paradoxes of each place. The light brought to thought is language, and Woodman charges hers with imagination and cultural signifiers. We’re not mere witnesses; we experience land as seen by this poet. This book is a distant mirror of two worlds, from the fragrance of foreign oils to “fresh white milk and bracing air…” brought beautifully vivid and close.”
Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
“Read Lee Woodman’s Homescapes and get an intimate and passionate picture of what it means to grow up in two vastly different cultures–Indian and American. Having lived in both for many decades myself, I testify to the poet’s authenticity and vision of harmony that makes sense in today’s fractured world. A well-timed book!”
Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, Washington, DC (2000-2013) and author of Still the Promised Land (Arch Street Press, 2019)
“As I began to read Lee Woodman’s dazzling new book of poems, the title leaped out at me, as if to deliver an urgent message. The word held other words inside: “me,” “escape,” “scapes,” “hope,” and others. I saw safety and danger traveling together, as “home” brings forth new “me-scapes,” versions of herself speaking new words: “nullah,” “peelu,” “dhobi.” Woodman’s vivid, sensuous language draws on the poet’s experiences living in India, France, and New Hampshire. As we read and re-read, we discover how the road to home may become both escape and return. Her skillful handling of form and rhyme (free verse, syllabics, villanelles, hymn meter, among others) creates a template for memorable images, like the “voluminous Hemlock” that “absorbs all life’s events: attacked, endured, sun saluted, sorrows sustained.” (“Trees have Longer Lives.”)” Read more…
“Lee Woodman’s volume of poetry is a balm for contemporary-news-weary readers like me. Homescapes is largely poems of the past—Lee’s past, Lee’s family’s past: snippets of tender memories, images of remembered beauty, reflections on the powerful influence of what’s long gone—all things that form an individual’s consciousness. And of course, as Whitman tells us, because we are all interconnected in a multitude of ways, what belongs to Lee, “as good belongs to you.” Reader, you will recognize Lee’s inner world: “I’ll pretend I just got here when they come to the gate.” And “We admired our handicraft—colorful rows of completed sock-balls…” Or “I conjured your face close to my pillow….”” Read more…
Esther Jantzen, teacher, writer, and global nomad
“Every so often, there are poems that come together in a single volume to depict both the exotic and the ordinary places one gets to call ‘home’ during a lifetime. Not only does Lee Woodman’s Homescapes render these formative places—parts of India and New England, to name a few—with fine lyrical detail, but she returns to them after decades have passed with the clarity of their assimilated meanings. She returns to them with an artist’s understanding of their value to a life.” Read more…
Woodman to release ‘Homescapes’
Lee Woodman, formerly of New Hampshire, will be releasing a new collection of poetry in May by Finishing Line Press called Homescapes.
“Home is a relative term, especially if you have grown up overseas,” the publisher said in a statement. “In Homescapes, Lee Woodman takes us from an Indian village to the edge of Tibet to a small town in New Hampshire. An audience with the Dalai Lama touches her spirit; questions from an American high school homeroom teacher challenge her wit. Lee never stops searching for what it means to be American, digs deep to understand her New England roots, and ponders intimate relationships, persistently asking, ‘Where—and what—is home?’” Read more…
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