The Spaces We Come From

Writers talk about setting and place a lot. But what about space? When my friend the writer William Claassen* sent me the Tom Spanbauer quote below, I was struck by how it spoke of the spaces between things, where all details of importance seem to live for me. Think about it: the space between expression and speech, between desire and touch, between word and deed, is where the action happens. Worlds are created and demolished in those spaces.

“There was sky everywhere: outside the windows, under the beds, between the ceiling and the floor there was sky. There was sky between your fingers when you spread them, and sky under your arms when you lifted them up. Sky around your neck and ears and head, and sky pressing your eyeballs. When you took a breath you were breathing sky. Sky was in your lungs. My mother hung up wash across the sky. I swung in my swing through the sky. There was no escaping it.”
~Tom Spanbauer, Faraway Places:

What a skill to mix the beauty and vastness of sky with a hint of darker things. When I think about my home state of Kansas, I think about space—and now after reading Spanbauer, I think about how we move through space differently depending on how we occupy our lives. Does this depend, even a little, on where we come from? How do wide open places strike you? I’ll be looking out for more of Spanbauer’s work.

*Books by William Claassen: Journey Man A World Calling, Another World A Retreat in the Ozarks, Alone in Community Journeys Into Monastic Life Around the World


About ninafurstenau

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau teaches a Food and Wine Writing for the University of Missouri Science and Agriculture Journalism program and the MU School of Journalism School. Her book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland was the winner of the MFK Fisher Book Award and Grand Prize Award for culinary/culture writing and designated as a Kansas Notable Book. She has also written Savor Missouri: River Hill Country Food and Wine, celebrating Missouri foodways. Her essay, "And Then There Was Rum Cake," appears in the 2017 anthology, Pie & Whiskey: Writer's Under the Influence of Butter and Booze. Ms. Furstenau was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia from 1984 to 1986 and then began working life as a journalist and publisher/editor of three construction magazines beginning in 1987. Ms. Furstenau and her husband launched and published these magazines and two others until 2001. She was a month-long resident at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, in 2008.
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