Cities and Memory

People are always on the move in Barbara Henning’s world. In her previous literary outing, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, the author offered a meditation on the ways in which the passage of time moves us forward to new and ever-changing opportunities for fulfillment and joy even as it carries us away from all that we love. With her latest collection of prose poetry, Cities and Memory, Henning continues to examine humanity’s undying propensity for motion as well as our always ambivalent relationship to time. We are an animal, it seems, that is always on the move yet, ironically, always in search of a place to call home. To put it another way, we’re always searching for meaning in the places we inhabit, always hoping to find new meaning — new life, even — in worlds just beyond the horizon, yet it’s only after we’ve left these worlds, only after we’ve moved on, that we realize what the past meant to us. To put it yet another way, we never can never appreciate the present moment for what it is; rather, we can only understand it in retrospect. Hence, perhaps, the recurring image of a photographer’s shadow throughout the collection: Cities and Memory represents a lyrical effort at capturing moments in time and space, and at divining the relationship between the two.

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