Interview: Marjorie Agosín

It was an unseasonably warm fall day in Pittsburgh when I talked with Chilean writer and activist, Marjorie Agosín, Chatham University’s All-Campus Author and the woman behind nearly forty books, including anthologies, poetry, memoir and nonfiction, and a novel, I Lived on Butterfly Hill, which was released in March 2014. In the living room of the Howe-Childs Gate House, I sheepishly removed several Apple devices of various sizes, one for recording, another for keeping the time, and she asked me about my family. We’d met before. Agosín graciously remembered the time last year I almost drove her and her husband the wrong way down a one-way street. We had a lot of catching up to do. For the next half hour, Agosín and I navigated our conversation through shared territory—of home, memory, and separation in poetry, the value of travel, the smell and feel of the Pacific Ocean when she returns to the country of her childhood. “The problem with Chile,” she told me with a sigh, “is that it’s far no matter where you are.” And so we talked too about this longing, about the clarity of what is left behind. Although I don’t speak Spanish, her native language, the conversation was easy, and I learned that even in our silences, nothing is lost.

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