Ann Herlong-Bodman is the author of the chapbook Pulled Out of Sleep, and her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Atlanta Review, The Cortland Review, and The South Carolina Review. After receiving degrees from Columbia College and the University of South Carolina, she taught at the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and at Lander University. When the Berlin Wall came down, she taught in East Europe under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State and lives now near Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband Robert.
Praise for Loose in Far-away Places
Loose in Far-away Places is like a geography lesson without maps. Each place illuminated in these poems contains far more than imagery. Small parables full of wisdom are scattered across these pages, describing journeys that traverse the planet, and Ann Herlong-Bodman is the navigator reminding us “This is how it happens, One sail after another. / Life moves on and we sail out of ourselves.” Exactly.
—Marjory Wentworth, Poet Laureate of South Carolina
Don’t let Ann Herlong-Bodman fool you; she’s no tourist. Yes, she’s traveled far and wide, even left her home in Charleston to set sail, quite literally, to distant shores. She writes, “I, who / for a lifetime tied my wings / to red hills, clay, the smell of honeysuckle, / suddenly turned loose to listen / for the sirens at the edge of the continent.” With the awareness of a poet who notices not just the beauty she seeks but also the difficulties and modern detritus of the world, Herlong-Bodman visits each place with a deep yearning to understand. As a teacher by training, she tries to learn the unknowable languages and impossible histories of those she encounters, and as a poet she embraces the truths she finds, no matter how ugly. In her hometown, this means bravely telling stories pocked with the legacy of racism and poverty, and abroad, this means using that same empathy to try to enter countries torn by war. In her own words spoken from her experience sailing, “It is the reefing and sheeting you must learn— / how to move through the queasy unknown alone, bend / chance your way, not matter the pitching and turning— // how to take the wind on the beam no matter the scars, / the bruises, the bloody nose— / how to stand calm, steer toward whatever’s out there.”
—Nickole Brown, author of Fanny Says
If national memory is stitched from tumultuous change, extraordinary heroics, the singular, celebrated voice, it is also threaded throughout with the unremarked time we spend with co-workers, with lovers, and on our own—the incremental shifts of the everyday. The poems of Loose in Far-away Places all attempt to understand and record change even as they face the knowledge that the “things that change us only change a fraction.” This is a meditation on the past and the future and the difficulty of understanding one’s country, understanding one another, understanding ourselves. On every page, Ann Herlong-Bodman polishes away at the conflicting ideals at work both within the world and within our hearts until, ultimately, only three things remain: faith, hope, and love. “In such light, I see more clearly,” she says. We all do.
—Terry L. Kennedy, author of New River Breakdown
It is a gift, he says, and I
turn to stare at the stranger
and the necklace,
its stone as blue as the sky
I will not see today.
It will keep you safe, he says.
From what, I think.
I came . . . she not come . . .
please take, he says
and I lean forward
to let him place the necklace
at my throat, a blue-eyed charm
worn by the locals, its clasp
coaxing olive groves
water the color of aubergine
and I embrace
the dream of strolling
through narrow streets
with the stranger, my face
to his, his hand sliding
down the curve of my back
as I straighten my skirt
and flip back my hair to peer
over the crowd, thank him.
But the stranger
is checking his iPhone,
waving goodbye, throwing kisses
while all around the sound
of the clasp lifts me
into a new light, the sky clearing,
and I’m standing
in the glow,
blocking the line at Starbucks.