My guest this week is Pamela Petro, American author, artist and teacher based in Massachusetts. Pamela has just published a memoir called The Long Field
in which we learn about her passion for Wales as an American, based around the concept of hiraeth.
Pamela did an MA in The Word and the Visual Imagination at Lampeter and she talks about how she never got over her ‘Welsh thing’. In the last 35 years she has been back something like 28 times. Lampeter has affected her in a way no other place has. Pamela talks about how she felt instantly at home there and about being comfortable on the margins looking critically at the centre.
She felt that she was in touch with the world in this intimate place, and she talks about using our own stories as a jumping off place to a universal plane.
We learn about the importance of hiraeth, which might be thought of as a form of homesickness and longing and as the presence of absence – perhaps a longing for the self that we once were.
We hear about the time a man appeared out of a manhole wearing a German pith helmet, and a sheep wandering in the library.
Pamela grew up in New Jersey and she talks about the search for that in between state and about how one is always imagining what we don’t have. To miss something is the springboard to imagination, and Pamela is happy to be in that liminal space.
It’s the looking forward, say to Christmas, that’s more important than Christmas Day itself. We find out why Pamela looks forward to the shortening of the light in winter, and we consider these motifs via the endings of The Shawshank Redemption and Local Hero.
At the end of the interview we discuss how negative experiences allow one to grow, and we talk about how loss might be deemed to be the most important thing in life. We discover that Pamela carries the past with her all the time – and we find out what would happen if she could choose between going to the past or the future.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Pamela Petro and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.