The arrival of Almost Patagonia: A Chapbook is a happy occasion.
A. Robert Lee’s poetry speaks directly, intimately, humorously, probingly. Read an excerpt.
Patagonia on My Mind by A. Robert Lee It is not on any map: true places never are. — Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851) The universe loves devoted travelers. — Janine Pommy Vega, Tracking the Serpent: Journeys to Four Continents (1997) Up-front confession. I have yet to set foot in Patagonia. But for years I've kind of been thinking I have. Or at least surmised I was en route. Places, encounters, that have seemed, well, Patagonian. Presiding writers, for their part, bequeath journeys. Homer to Ithaca. Basho to Deep North Honshu. Coleridge to Xanadu. Yeats to Byzantium. Journeys full of imagining. So why not yours, far lesser, to Patagonia? Of course Patagonia is geographically there Physical, encompassing. America del Sur. Discussable with travelers who know it. To be GPS'd, googled, even phoned. You can look up any number of features. Chile and Argentina custodianship. Atlantic and Pacific ocean confluence. Topographies of coast, desert, Andean mountain. Vastness of sand, ice-sheet, tide-pool, steppes. Names, too, to position you. Cape Horn. Tierra del Fuego. Los Glaciares. Animalia to stir and enrapture. Guanaco, Condor, Mara, Puma, Penguin, Whale. Hoof, wing, fur, claw, beak, fin. You have still to meet a Patagonian Spanish-speaker. Or encounter any Mapudunguns and residual Welsh. But you hold Patagonia in mind, another world. Wholly real but somehow off-planet. Thermal. Antarctic. Whirled. So it's as though you were getting ready. Patagonia before Patagonia. You might call it alter-Patagonia. Sights, sounds, for which you have borrowed the name. A corral of metaphors, a thesaurus of sorts. In these respects have you not put Patagonia to selfish purpose? A means to express the offbeat, the off-centre. A resort to express the un-meant, the untoward. The very name hints of invention. This, or that, is Patagonian, you might get known to say. Patagonia I'm in your debt. There as real time and space. Yet there, too, as figure, silhouette. Perfect twosome. Double thanks. Dos mil gracias. ••• "Patagonia on My Mind" © 2023 by A. Robert Lee. Posted with permission of the author.