Four years ago, when it was clear the people in our country were so divided, I decided to focus on what unites us. My mind naturally went to “home.” Everyone in the country has a relationship with the inanimate place we call a house.
Yet, the depth of a house’s impact often goes unnoticed. When we talk about the influence of place, we start with urban, suburban, or rural. We say Victorian, cookie-cutter, bungalow, brick ranch, double-wide. These are big-picture descriptions that only begin to explore how human experience is interwoven with the house.
How often do we talk about the meaning of a bedroom door? What do barred windows teach us about safety? When do we slow down to see how the details of place shape us?
In Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard says, “A rather large dossier of literary documentation on the poetry of houses could be studied from the single angle of the lamp that glows in the window.”
I wonder what we would learn if every voter had to write a poem from the angle of a lamp in their house. Maybe similarities in our griefs and anxieties, shared joy in births and anniversaries, differences in décor, inspirations in design, offers of advice.
And I wonder how the poems would change over the years. If we had the same lamps but in different windows.
Now that I think about it, I’m going to write a poem “from the single angle of the lamp that glows in the window.”
Care to join me?
“Come what may the house helps us to say: I will be an inhabitant of the world, in spite of the world.”Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space
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