As part of our Journey, Dramatic Adventure Theatre arranged for the group to have two lectures from faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava. I found both of them fascinating. The first focused on the continually changing historical borders of Slovakia, and the second on the minority cultures in Slovakia (particularly the Roma culture). In both, they emphasized that Slovakia is the heart of Europe–constantly the contested lines of whatever political or social battlefield is being waged. They take pride in this position of being the heart, because nothing can survive without its heart. Meanwhile, they struggle with their cultural identity–where they would prefer to be seen as more western but have historically been influenced by eastern cultures. They prefer to be from Central Europe rather than Eastern Europe.
Both lectures resonated with me about how many borders are really just man-made constructs. While language and lifestyles do differentiate between people; the definition of what constitutes a people, a country, a land, a community–all come from political decisions and the desire to control.
The first lecturer mentioned her grandfather, who had recently passed away at the age of 99 yrs. old. “He lived,” she said, “in 12 different countries without ever leaving Bratislava.” The reality of that lead me to attempt the following etheree, which I began writing as we sat in the Bratislava Train Station after we missed our train. While I was inspired to do a lot of creative writing on this trip, I had so many ideas whirring through my brain I found it difficult to begin without giving myself guidelines such as timed writes or structured poems. So, of course, I attempted my recent favorite poetry forms, an etheree and a sestina (which I will share later).
Within A Lifetime–Change in Etheree
through a world
that changes with
no sense of control.
One person, many lives
without ever leaving home.
Social, cultural, financial.
Massive movement affecting many
lives. Changing rules, beliefs, dreams, even hope.
Middle life brings war and devastation
followed quickly by more rapid change.
A country taken over by
Communist rule, communist
beliefs and communist
ideals until it
as the old