Journeys Into The Mind of the World (Richard Tillinghast)
Tillinghast is the author of twelve books of poetry including, most recently, Selected Poems (2008) and Wayfaring Stranger (2012). Using formal constraint to shape and sharpen his examinations of historical and personal events, Tillinghast is often concerned with the elusive nature of home. Poet Floyd Skloot, reviewing The Stonecutter’s Hand (1995) for the Harvard Review, observed that in those poems, “the urgency—the impulse to go—rises from a need to strip the self down to its essence, to relocate intimacy and a sense of community by immersing himself in remoteness.”
Tillinghast has traveled widely in Europe, America, Asia, and the Middle East. Many of his poems are informed by his travels, which have been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Council, the Irish Arts Council, the American Research Institute in Turkey, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He has also received the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship from Harvard. He is the winner of the Ann Stanford Prize for Poetry and the James Dickey Poetry Prize. He has reviewed poetry extensively for the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and other periodicals.
In 2000 Tillinghast founded the Bear River Writers’ Conference, which he directed until 2005, when he moved to Ireland. In 2011 he moved back to the United State, and divides his year between Hawaii and Sewanee, Tennessee.
Renowned poet Richard Tillinghast’s wanderlust and restless spirit are nearly as well known as his verses. This book of essays captures that penchant to wander, yet Journeys into the Mind of the World is not merely a compilation of travel stories—it is a book of places. It explores these chosen locations—Ireland, England, India, the Middle East, Tennessee, Hawaii—in a deeper way than would be typical of travel literature, attempting to enter not just the world, but “the mind of the world”—the roots and history of places, their political and cultural history, spiritual, artistic, architectural, and ethnic dimensions.
Behind each essay is the presence, curiosity, and intelligence of the author himself, who uses his experience of the places he visits as a way of bringing the reader into the equation. Tillinghast illuminates his travels with a brilliant eye, a friendly soul, and eclectic knowledge of a variety of disparate areas—Civil War history, Venetian architecture, Asian cultures, Irish music, and the ways of out-of-the-way people. This attention to history and cultural embeddedness lends unique perspectives to each essay.
At the heart of his journeys are his deep roots in the South, tracing back to his hometown in Tennessee. The book explores not only Tillinghast’s childhood home in Memphis, but even the time before his birth when his mother lived in Paris. Readers will feel a sense of being everywhere at once, in a strange simultaneity, a time and place beyond any map or guidebook.