Walker’s poetry reflects the process of living and learning in another culture

Poetry became a point of connection when Kristin Walker shared her writing with the rest of her Study-Service Term (SST) group in Perú in the summer of 2005. With her faculty leader – Associate Professor of Spanish Dean Rhodes – Kristin had decided during the first half of the semester to focus on creative writing to fulfill the SST requirement of completing a culminating project.

Upon completing a service assignment in the Andean city of Huancayo, her work “became a point of connection and reconnection with others, as I shared with my SST group and close friends and family.” Back on campus, Kristin’s poetry, along with small drawings, became a Pinchpenny Press book titled “Of Dust and Sun” published in the spring semester. She writes in the introduction:

“As I walked along dusty streets or sat in crowded buses in Perú, I pondered educational problems, the role of religion, women’s rights, and the day to day of living in a foreign country. In the evenings, I found myself sitting down to write at a small desk in my host home, wrapped in a wool blanket to keep out the cold. Usually these sessions were interrupted by the curiosity of family members, the door buzzer, or an evening meal. What I was able to jot down began out of necessity: to emotionally process and digest events around me in a familiar language so that I could continue thriving and learning in an unfamiliar place. More and more, however, these works gave voice to the height and depth of emotion that I felt on a daily basis. This journaling developed into a project of sorts: making sense of what I saw, making sense of my role in it.

“Currently, this writing symbolizes to me the process of living and learning in another part of the world. What gives travel significance is the fact that it is a very personal experience within a broad context of people and relationships, places and events. Writing is much the same. Though I traveled with many, this writing is my observation, my point of view. Putting a voice to these travels both acknowledges its uniqueness and connects me with surrounding individuals through our common paths.”

Earth Child
hiding in warm kitchen corner
he snitches shells with boiled egg still attached
begs apples and mandarins from pockets
and laments over bare chicken bones
then, wiping crumbs from mouth with worn sleeve
gallops out the door, dog at heels

he leaves no place undiscovered
no patch undisturbed in the small yard
wide-eyed and wild dark hair
skin brown of dust and sun
emerges a tummy from worn sweater and pants
that begs for a tickle

with laughter that bubbles clear
he grabs hold of hands with a grimy grip
then just as quickly lets go again
to go tripping over clumps of grass
until feet fail him
and he’s a roly-poly giggling heap on the ground

mother eyes his actions suspiciously from the window
clanks dishes under cold running water
little sister firmly strapped to her back
wrapped in colors of sunlight, geraniums from the garden,
orange peel
fire crackling hot behind her
this boy has not been defeated – yet 

Of Dust and Sun
Pinchpenny Press, 2006