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Open Access Publications from the University of California

'The Art of Being Home': Home and Travel in Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s Poetry


"'The Art of Being Home': Home and Travel in Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Poetry" is an exploration of Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s poetics of travel and home anchored in a narrative tracking a day spent with the poet. It is a sequel to “Walking between Land and Water,” an essay published in Asiatic, in which I combine a personal encounter with the poet with an examination of the tropes of walking and liminality in her work. Here the focus is more on the motif and theme of home in the poet’s work, as the essay excavates the complexities and ambiguities of the meaning of home, from her first collection to recently published poems. This essay identifies the shifts in the poet’s idea of where and what home is, and examines how it forms a counterpoint to the poetics of travel and transnational mobility that informs her work. So far, critical attention has been more on her relationship with Malacca, her place of origin, than on her self-mappings in her adopted hometown of Santa Barbara. The essay gives a portrait of the poet at home, and highlights the increasing importance of Santa Barbara in her poetry.


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