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By Kent C. Ryden

Mapping the Invisible panorama: Folklore, Writing, and the experience of position (American Land & lifestyles)

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Extra resources for Mapping the Invisible Landscape: Folklore, Writing, and the Sense of Place (American Land & Life)

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Page xiii Preface There is a poem by James McGowan that I like very much. Its title is ''On Writing an Illinois Poem," and its speaker is a would-be Midwestern bard who wants to write honestly and well about his adopted state. He finds himself unable to put pen to paper, though, sensing that he is not equipped for the task; he is stymied by a fundamental inability to grasp the meaning of Illinois. I shouldn't do it yet; don't know this place. I've been here now three years and don't relate. One notes things, though: the squaresof land that is; the prairie's laid in blocks and towns are just a smaller grid; roads meet in perpendicular and go in only four directions (though a thousand miles in each).

As I wander across the border one last time, no longer emulating Janus but anticipating the drive back across Rhode Island, all of the varied geographical approaches and perspectives to which I have been exposed and in which I have participated this daythe human experience of geographical transitions, the hints of historical geography which I read into the post, the newer cultural geography of roadside signs and picnic groves and the interpretations they invite, the far-reaching, detail-effacing perspective of surveyors and geodesistsfade before thoughts of the day's work and the experience of settling one last time on a mossy hillside, amidst piney shade and cool breezes, to write in my notebook.

Of all the media of communication about geography, the map is probably the first that comes to most people's minds, and it has certainly been one of the most basic and long-lived. Maps of some sort have been produced by nearly all known cultures in all known times. Archaeologists have discovered maps of ancient Sumerian cities, preserved on clay tablets. Pacific Islanders make Page 20 maps out of sticks in order to teach young men how to navigate among the far-flung islands which make up their community.

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