The Urban Exodus Podcast

A poet of the people reconnects to the natural world and finds a place to call home | Inaugural poet and writer Richard Blanco in Bethel, ME

December 18, 2020 Urban Exodus Episode 6
The Urban Exodus Podcast
A poet of the people reconnects to the natural world and finds a place to call home | Inaugural poet and writer Richard Blanco in Bethel, ME
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Richard Blanco’s poem One Today, inspired the nation at Obama’s 2013 inauguration. Richard is the first one to tell you that he is unsure if he would’ve even been able to write the poem had he not been confined to his writing desk, surrounded by pine forests, piled high with snow, up on a hill in the ski town of Bethel, Maine. He even famously practiced his poem to a snowman audience in his front yard, several weeks before he made the journey to DC. 

Richard Blanco has always been in search of home - the pursuit of home and what it takes to make a place feel like home are common themes in his writing. The child of Cuban exiles, and an immigrant himself, he has always longed to find a place he belongs. 

Since moving to the country, Richard has written the inaugural poem, numerous award-winning books, and countless occasional poems. He also teaches writing workshops all over the world. The country has given him space, both mentally and physically, to write and time to focus on where he wants his career as a working poet to take him. Until moving from Miami to Maine, Richard didn’t realize that changing  his environment would help his creative focus and energy. By pulling away from the chaos of city life, he has been able to take a step back and write work that digs to the core of the human experience. Reconnecting with the inspiration of the natural world, feeling a personal connection to place and his local community, he has been able to reach new levels in his artistic expression and creative success. 

In our conversation, Richard talks through some of the struggles and sacrifices he has had to make to build and maintain his creative career opportunities in a remote area. His mission in life is to expose as many people as possible to the transformative and healing power of poetry. As of late, this mission has required him to travel a large portion of the year. His home in Bethel has begun to feel more like a retreat and maybe a little less like home. It is a place to recharge his batteries, a quiet place to write and a place to spend quality time with his partner. This has changed his perspective somewhat and now he is able to fully appreciate this as his chosen home and not a place where he Although someday he hopes to have a place in a city to visit, his time in the country has solidified his need to always have a retreat in the country where he can sit quietly and work.

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Alissa Hessler:

Way back before the pandemic began, I had a question. What does it take for a city person to go country in 2015, I set out to explore through photography, writing. And now this podcast in February, I recorded most of the interviews for the first season. I plan to launch in April of 2020, the five year anniversary of the project, but then everything turned upside down. And it just didn't feel like the right time to launch because so much had changed overnight. As the initial shock of the pandemic wore off, it became clear that many people with the means to do so we're leaving cities in droves. Recent data has shown that nearly 16 million people have relocated in the US this year, making the concept of an urban Exodus even more relevant. So while some of the interviews in the season were conducted before the pandemic, the topics they discuss the questions they raise, and the answers they provide are more urgent than ever. I'm Alissa Hessler. Welcome to the urban Exodus. Richard blancos poem one today inspire the nation and Obama's 2013 inauguration. Richard is unsure if he would have been able to write the poem had he not be confined to his writing desk, surrounded by pine forest piled high with snow. In the ski town of Bethel, Maine. He even practiced his poem to a snowman audience in his yard several weeks before he made the journey to DC. Richard has always been in search of home. The pursuit of home and what it takes to make a place feel like home are reoccurring themes and his writing. In today's episode, we talk about the inspiration role life has provided for him and the joys and sacrifices that come with building a career outside the city. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your life was like growing up in Miami?

Richard Blanco:

Well, I grew up in Miami since I was about four years old. I grew up in a very tight, tight knit Cuban exile community. So it was kind of a kind of a cultural bubble. But it was a very wonderful place to grow up and in the sense of having a really great sense of community and support culturally and just sort of very strong sense of identity, which is still with me to this day.

Alissa Hessler:

Well, what's your relationship like with poetry when you were younger?

Richard Blanco:

I had no relationship with Lowcountry basically, as a working class family, my parents we didn't have books in the house with but few books we did have, or on how to learn English, which were my parents books. So I really didn't have much access to poetry or the arts in general. It was really something I discovered are started discovering or wanting to or yearning for much later in life actually, because I was a big snoop. As a child, I was used to snoop through my older brother's textbooks to see if I find some juicy information about what girl he was dating or whatnot. And it was that one book that I think it's still around 101 famous poems, which was basically 101 famous poems by dead British white guys, but I remember reading lines composed about Tintern Abbey, just feeling the sense of longing for place and nostalgia and whatnot. And I'd remember like crying because I remember feeling that was that was kind of like the way my parents felt about Cuba. And this is my first moment as to who you know, here's this British was worth talking about Tintern Abbey, and you know what an abbey was. But I remember the feeling it was like listening to a song that you kind of understood emotionally even though you didn't understand the letter of the word. I didn't start writing till I was 25. And then I was like, whoa, wait a minute. There's people writing today. I eventually got an MFA in creative writing and poetry took a hiatus from my engineering career and took a job professorship at Central Connecticut State.

Alissa Hessler:

What do you love most about your home your land in this place where you've settled in Maine,

Richard Blanco:

my writing has always been about searching for home about searching for place, identity, community, belonging. And so nature in a ways like this, this is like the universal home. It's something that we all can belong to. There's an incredible power in that have certain sense of being in a certain connection that makes you feel at home, but also community I mean, getting back to growing up Miami, Miami, certainly a big city. But I also grew up in sort of a micro microcosm of that city, which is a very strong like had mentioned very strong Cuban community that was raised by a village. I mean, it wasn't just my house, it was like the grocer in the corner and the gas station attendant we all get everybody knew each other. Everybody was served in the same space about being exiles and thinking about what was going to happen with Cuba. So I kind of always craved throughout my life, that sense of community. And I find that here in a small town going to the post office, you know, sometimes a half hour because you stop and start talking and gossiping, you know, and all the rest. And so I, I've always craved that sense of community. And it's harder to find, it's harder to find in Miami now, because it's gotten so big, it's kind of harder to find more and more in the modern world. I mean, it's just people are just always running around and busy working and getting things done. And sort of you don't really run into that very often. One of the things I remember that was really interesting that maybe I didn't, didn't expect was that when we moved here, everybody knew who we already worked. Yeah, you're the two gay guys from Miami. Everybody knew you can't be very anonymous in a small town. So so that was interesting. I was like, as I always tell people like, I'm my partner more out in May in Bethel, Maine, and we are in New York City, because, well, everybody, you cannot not be out in Bethel, Maine, because everybody knows who you are. And so that that's kind of endearing. And then sometimes not. What was interesting about Bethel itself was that I thought I was going to be really exotic, the Cuban gay man. And people don't really they're just, it's like the New England thing. It's like, they don't care what you are, they just care who you are as a human being, and what kind of person you are. Right. And I think that that trumps a lot of things. Because again, in a small community, you know, it really comes down to that, as we're all sort of, it's a much more even playing field, because in a way, you get 14 feet of snow on a Tuesday, you all have to pull together, it doesn't matter what you are, where you came from, y'all we're all dealing with connecting to each other being a town.

Alissa Hessler:

So in your work, you're all you've always been searching for this idea of home, do you feel like you are home now where you live?

Richard Blanco:

Home is kind of? It's like asking what is love, right? It's a very big word. And it's always changes, it changes as you change, it changes as conditions around you change. So even in my small town, in the past seven years, I've been traveling 70% of my life is spent on a plane, it's starting to feel more of just a different dimension, or I'm, I'm enjoying it in a different way and was like a second home even though it's the only home I am on the road so much may come home. Yeah, it's starting take another another dimension, that's more about almost like getting away. Every time I come back home, I feel like I'm getting away from the worlds all over again, sticking on more of an oasis kind of feeling. So even that's evolved, you know, even that changes.

Alissa Hessler:

Do you envision main being a forever home for you?

Richard Blanco:

Yeah, certainly. And I think I have fantasies of turning, you know, sort of maybe endowing the house, if I can ever afford that Gould Academy in town and making a kind of art or writers center, that's something that's been on my periphery, you know, just to have even beyond my death to have sort of a space here, so much. So many important things happened here, such a huge life change from becoming Presidential Inaugural Poet, and all that is in the DNA of this town in this house, in May,

Alissa Hessler:

has your demeanor or your value system changed at all since moving away from the city,

Richard Blanco:

I think it reinforced my belief in community and how important that is, and, and human connection. On the other hand, it's also maybe a lot less than a lot, a lot more impatient with rudeness. And when people are just not paying attention, lions. So I get I tend to be a little bit of a grouch sometimes, too. There's too many people around.

Alissa Hessler:

Living in a rural area has real challenges when it comes to making a living, what sacrifices have you and your partner had to make in order to be able to create this oasis and main

Richard Blanco:

one is having to live 90 minutes from an airport. But on the other hand, when it was part time in Boston, I would still go to the airport three hours before because you never know what traffic you're going to get. So here I just go two hours before I can still make my flight without a problem as a smaller airport in Portland. But you know, that like kind of distance to get to certain things, doctors or hospitals or sometimes just to get to a Home Depot and Home Depot. Nearest Home Depot was 45 minutes away. It's a beautiful drive, but it's still 45 minutes. So I think also in terms of sacrifices, people don't visit us as much. In the first few years. Everybody's like, hey, yeah, that's good to see me and then like, I guess the novelty wears off for people. So seeing, getting family and friends to come visit has become more difficult in the sense of, you know, getting for the same reasons getting them up here right now. And of course, they love the place and they adore it. But I think people who visit, we would have struck more connections, we lived in a big say, we would see people more often. And that sense, part of what I do miss sometimes, and maybe now more than at the beginning, we gotta admit there's limited cultural resources or outlets, right? You can't just go to a play or like, go to you know, we, we have a movie theater that shut down Finally, someone bought it and reopened it again, we'll get a bowling alley now. So sometimes they do miss being able to just you know, you know, happen assembling go see world class a harder and amazing play.

Alissa Hessler:

Do you envision more people returning to rural America in the coming years? Or do you think there'll be a continuation of more and more people living in cities?

Richard Blanco:

Well, I think economics has a lot to do with that. And so like you said, I'm lucky because I can work out of the home and I don't have to have a job. And I mean, it's very challenging in rural communities, because you're right, I don't I couldn't have it get a job in Maine, and certainly not writing towards being a poet. Right. So I think that might be a limiting factor. How much of that can happen? I think the trend lately has been also economics, but people are moving to smaller cities that have a sense of community and have more opportunity. And and that I kind of see as as more of a trend, smaller cities in rural settings are certainly seem to be a trend or opportunity and also a slower paced kind of life that I think you have access to that rural sensibility and an experience and authenticity, while still being able to have a job and earn a living and have schools etc.

Alissa Hessler:

Do you ever have to combat feelings of isolation in the country or is living in a smaller community made you feel more connected to others,

Richard Blanco:

it makes me feel more connected. But the tendency is, I tend to be somewhat, somewhat of an introvert can get so wrapped up in your own in your own work at home, at least in my case, because I work at home, it still doesn't get spent like three days without leaving the house. And I've I make myself go out somewhere like to dinner to places where I know, I'll know people because like, This is getting weird. But you start talking, when you start talking to the dog and the dog starts answering yeah, there's need to get out. There's isolated everything in life, of course, is a balance, right? And then sometimes I just like I've been alone for three and a half days, I need to at least go to the grocery store or seen somebody say hello. It feels like, oh my god, there's humans on the earth I forgot. So you can make yourself feel very isolated. And I think you just have to break that it's much easier to be isolated than it is obviously in big cities or any kind of city. So it's it's a great thing. But yeah, I always we always try to remember to not fall into that for too long.

Alissa Hessler:

There are many great writers and poets that have come from Maine. Why do you think this area calls? What is it about living in this state that helps influence great works.

Richard Blanco:

Every writer can be a little bit different or you go through different phases of your life where you need different things. Just yesterday, I got back from a trip and the wind was blowing really cold. And like the snow is like flying all over the place. And I'm sitting on the porch just watching all this and a certain sense of just peacefulness. I mean, even though it's like minus 38,000 cents, I think it's getting back to the nature nature reminds us of our of our fragility or our connection to something larger changes our brainwaves and to be ever present in everywhere in Maine, I mean, just taking a drive to get in Portland or to drive to you know, anywhere, you're always surrounded by nature lakes, you know, more pine trees and people. Just certain surrender that happens. And that surrender and cert comes serenity and a space that opens up where I think art and writing comes from Maine is like one big Walden Pond. Also, just again, because it's a quiet rural town. You don't have this many stressors. So you actually kind of work more in a weird way. But you can also get more exhausted because there's nothing you don't have to 45 or an hour and a half commute every day. You're not dealing with traffic, you're not dealing with crowds. I've just found that it's much easier to get into the writing space in that sense and give me allowing me not necessarily more time to write because we always get busy with everything but but certainly easier to get into that creative space.

Alissa Hessler:

Can you attribute any of your success as a poet to moving away from the city

Richard Blanco:

necessarily moving away from the city but I think moving on I think it's just a varied variety of experiences. And I want to include in that also travel, because I think that's also something that, for me, in particular sense of home is in place and identity and how these things happen to us, or how we make them happen to me really is really comes a lot also when I travel that constantly keeps the question of home fresh in my mind. And then that way, it's given me ways, different ways to talk about my, my obsession with home that hopefully doesn't sound like the same home for 15 years, equipment, all these kinds of things. I think that's what that in general keeps me alive.

Alissa Hessler:

Do you have any advice for people who would like to build their career, but they're based in the city and they really want to move early?

Richard Blanco:

You really got to take inventory and say, Is this really something I want to do? And if so, realize you got to plan for it, for sure. You got to earn you got to earn your place there to be able to bargain for what you want. Establish yourself, I guess, is one of them, let's say knowing that your long term plan is maybe to have this opportunity, and then present it. What's the worst that they can do? Say? No. Right? So I think that's becoming more and more valid. I worked up here and when I first moved to Maine, I worked for a year and a half remotely with my engineering office in Miami but I had earned that right I had to learn earned that bargaining power and what I probably would still be doing it if it wasn't that Obama called and asked me to write a book for the country, I probably still would be able to do that. So I think the note strategizes what I would say and not just not just to go wouldn't be nice someday and not just you know, not to say that to preempt it too much and realize it does take planning and it does take picking even a place of a kind by takes a lot of a lot of thinking and planning and and soul search.

Alissa Hessler:

This episode is brought to you by Hessler creative workshops, a creative duo spoiler alert, it's my husband and I offering both visual and destination photography workshops. Join us in our creative connection course running January 8 through ninth creative connection meets once a week for group critiques paired with lectures and assignments designed to inspire, experiment and expand your artists. I learn more and see our full list of virtual and destination workshops at Hessler creative.com. You're previously a civil engineer. Do you have any thoughts around the way cities and small towns are structured?

Richard Blanco:

That's a really interesting, great question. Because it's something that I also work to have worked in and studied as an engineer, a civil engineer and worked on a lot of town revitalization projects, town economic development projects, you have sort of remaking towns and really thinking about how how towns work. One of the reasons I love New York City in smaller doses, but I still live in a city is that you're really living in a village, right? And every single two or three square blocks is a whole community of itself. And so you get you do get you do know the baker and you do know the server and the corner and you're in your neighborhood restaurant and the bartender and you do know the person at the dry cleaner and you do have and stop and have conversations. So I think what what we've tried to do is thinking about localizing things so that people have community right where they are and don't feel like they have to go drive for miles or 10 miles to have a nice dinner. So thinking about how we build community by restructuring how the city is organized, or the town is organized. And even in Miami, which is where did most of my work is how do you build not nodes or nodules, where have community where people can live work and play and feel a lot closer plus, cutting down a commute time, less stress, more time to spend with family and friends. So I think there's the old outdated model of you know, there's the, you know, the suburban model of here's where all the businesses are and here's where other people live. And here's where all the warehouses are, instead of a mixed use so that people can actually create communities, walking communities, and I think we all crave that because I think at the end of the day, no matter where you live, you're always in a sense craving community, just cities are just trying to make that kind of make that easier and make that more more accessible to people.

Alissa Hessler:

When we last met you spoke of cities as a human landscapes with their infrastructures living and moving like an organism of sorts. What was it like adapting to a largely non human landscape? Are there things that you've learned from the way the natural world operates?

Richard Blanco:

This is something I've always, in a way been thinking about, whether that be the sea, the ocean, or mountains or pine trees here. There's a great model that I've started write about. I think it's a poem called some days to see that sort of speaks to that but what I've seen nature and having access to that kind of constantly, is that nature offers a great sort of model or kind of a metaphor about human nature. Every time I look out my window, it's completely different landscape. Right? Something about it, it's different. The snow is different. The trees been there a different way on your weed came up. It's still itself. So how do we, as human beings always live, knowing centered in who we are, but always different, too.

Alissa Hessler:

It feels like America's getting more and more polarized, what do you think can be done to help lessen this and move towards a more cooperative and peaceful society?

Richard Blanco:

So big question as something that I'm sort of working on. Now, in terms of my new poetry and thinking about exactly that, I tried to do it through my poetry and trying to create work that is not beating the same old drum, that's not just preaching to the choir, but hopefully opens up some kind of new conversation and new perspectives and notions that we have all sort of entrenched ourselves in and stop being in an echo chamber. And I think, you know, to the interview, you're making me think about how so this great documentary about the border is sort of traced the whole border in one towns and cities and whatnot, and interviewing people and just thinking about the perspectives. There's nothing truer than experiencing people and experiencing places, because everything else is sort of an abstraction of abstracted by media obstructed by even popular culture obstructed by stereotypes that we just have grow up with. So you know, I just think if people with some big country, but if people were just sort of see each other more people and get to have those experiences, once there's more of a real human connection, and that's what I try to do, what my porches, have me, maybe people meet on the page, or hopefully, have them, have them be inspired to experience something different than what they're used to, through where the experience that I've had and sharing that. But it's, it's a tough time right now, because I think we're so convinced of, of who we are, right? Or who other people are. And it's, it's become, you know, we can discount entire cities, entire states, entire regions, through stereotypes, right, or what color they are in a map, you know, and there's really all kinds of people living in all in places of all powers, all kinds of political persuasions have all kinds of everything, right. It's a, it's a big country.

Alissa Hessler:

How do you envision poetry evolving to meet the demands of our changing society,

Richard Blanco:

Audrey has always had a component of it that has been about oral tradition and about community and about a collective sense of people that's dwindled over the years, obviously, well, it's dwindled, since the invention of the printing press, and TV, also, music has replaced a lot of that need of just to have poetry in our lives. But I've seen it step up a lot. And the younger generation are understanding how poor G more of the Civic role of poetry and poets is, and thinking about how poems can speak to a larger, something larger than just the self, although that's always also very valid, and very powerful. But that, you know, as I say, they are starting to understand the poetry of way versus just the poetry of AI, but rather the poetry of us. So I've seen a lot of that different times demand a different kind of poetry. And it's kind of part of the evolution of the art form is that we've done the sort of very introspective, very auto biographical poetry for a while and again, very powerful and stuff that can still teach us amazing lessons. But we're sort of evolving into another layer of that, you know, getting back to the idea of community understanding community in the context of poetry. And that's, that's been wonderful to see. As I'm saying, my childhood, I had no access and add this archaic sensor reporter was, like, started writing it 2526. So the good part is, is that I get to, I get to be that person that hopefully opens their eyes, as other poets have done for me and St. Louis, we're all points aren't dead. Like we're writing about stuff that matters. Right now. We're writing about, about social political issues or writing about climate change we're writing about all these are the kinds of things that I get to be the person that sort of opens our eyes and gets an open, crack the door open to poetry, and it's, for me, in particular, because my role is so public as Inaugural Poet that, you know, I get to do readings and most unlikely places at the FDA. And one of the strangest ones was the FDIC. And so many of these viewers are first have ever even been to a poetry reading and they're petrified. So I get to be that person.

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Alissa Hessler:

When you walk into a classroom, do you come in with certain ideas or thoughts that you wish to impart on your students? And if so what are they,

Richard Blanco:

if it's just sort of more of a literature classes, again, getting them to expose them getting over their fear of poetry and trying to introduce really contemporary voices to them. So uh, you know, I try to always bring in regional opponents and let them see that there's ports living amongst them that are writing stuff about their very town states regions. So that's one thing I try to do with creative writing classes. Really the besides just teaching the basic elements of craft and techniques of writing poetry, is my greatest challenge or the I think that just really trying to deepen their connection to their own work, and trying to understand that this isn't just about writing a poem, but that it's, it's in a way, a spiritual process, right? That it's something that's about connecting to something deeper in yourself, that you didn't know, was there an idea or an emotion or an experience that you didn't know what it meant. And so, to get him to dive deeper, I think there's always sort of the subtext of my teaching, is to really get them in touch with that subconscious part of the self, which is what ultimately, I think when you tap into that, and you find conscious language for that subconscious see, of memories and experiences and thoughts that are with us serve, are flowing underneath the conscious mind that sometimes that's when the best poetry arises. And that's hard sometimes to because people sometimes don't want to go there, or, you know, they're just consumed in the technique or the, the technical part of writing and not understanding that it's also very mysterious, a process that it's a leap of faith. It's, it's trusting your instincts, and trusting your experiences in life to speak.

Alissa Hessler:

What are some new ideas you are currently exploring in your work? And what are some projects that you are working on and have worked on since we visited you? Gosh, when did we visit you in 2015.

Richard Blanco:

We did a beautiful book called boundaries, with photographer Jacob Hessler and his 12 homes are photographs on the theme of boundaries, boundaries of all kinds, not just physical boundaries, but psychological ones boundaries of raised boundaries of gender, etc. And that book, which is just a beautiful book, sort of limited edition fine Press book spawned the large book, which I finished last year, it's called How to love a country fortress changed, it's changed for me too. You know, I never thought I'd write a book that was so public, or that had so much of the we and the ostomate knows I have lately. And right now I'm exploring a few things. One is of exploring performance a little bit more how a poem becomes different when it becomes now drama, right? So I'm interested in exploring that either by doing it myself, or combining it with maybe writing more for stage. And so I'm been working with Portland stage for a while. It's very challenging is it's like trying to learn a whole new, a whole new genre for me, and I've always loved theater.

Alissa Hessler:

I first spoke with Richard back in February of 2020. A lot has changed since then. He sent me this audio postcard update last week.

Richard Blanco:

So I'm taking a walk along what we call the summer road, the property which is just an old road from God knows how many years ago that's not used anymore, and it kind of loops around the edge of our hill. And it's a nice breeze flowing through here today. Well, a lot sure has happened since February. See I had taken a job of my alma mater in Miami and my plan was to sort of live on both ends of i 95. Get those wonderful winters in Miami and the wonderful summers up here in Maine. But of course all that's kind of up in the air now. As soon as classes went remote, I had to drive three days back up to Maine felt safer up here in my home and vessel. And this is where I've been. And teaching remotely, I am glad to be up here, it feels like a very safe place to be during the pandemic, you know, and I need to go out like once or twice a week for groceries or whatnot, and seems very quiet here compared to a lot of the chaos that's going on in the world. So I'm glad for that. Still, that being said, what active social life we did have, of course, it's come to a standstill. So it does feel a little bit lonely. It was always good to at least gather with friends once a week or once every couple weeks at our favorite restaurant or two and connect socially. So I'm also realizing that isolation, as much as I love being isolated as a writer, up in the woods of that we are at the end of the day are social animals that need social interaction, however, little that may be, but we need some of it. So I am missing that. But again, I'm glad I'm glad to be up in Maine for this time thinking about how I can incorporate this new experience as I move forward and managing, trying to live take advantage of all we've learned with respect to connecting to the outside world without necessarily having to be in person. The other thing that's funny is, of course, my partner husband is here also and has no schedule either. So it's been kind of fun to have date nights and whatnot and sort of make our own fun. We're thinking of having our own New Year's party and theming it and you know, getting decorations and why not even though it's just as do but all in all, I gotta be grateful. We are weathering things and at the same time, so looking forward to when our lives begin to even look normal again.

Alissa Hessler:

Thank you for joining me for my conversation with Richard Blonko. I just love the way that Richard talks about creativity, about community and about the power of poetry to heal and to start important dialogues on the issues that we are facing in our society today. To read more about Richard and see photos from his original urban Exodus feature, visit our website, visit Richard's website, Richard dash Blonko for videos, books, and more, you can sign up to get on the waitlist for richer Broncos virtual weekend poetry intensive this winter by visiting Howe Hill Farm. That's h o w. E Hill farm.com. Join me next time when I speak with James ray of little Seed Farm James and his wife Eileen left New York City to start a goat farm in Tennessee. James kept his city position and telecommuted so that they could afford the startup costs to get their farm up and running. But just a few months after they moved, the company James worked for went under and he was out of a job with Eileen pregnant they had to get to work quickly to focus our efforts and find a way to earn a living. They never could have imagined that in just a few short years, they would build a nationally recognized farm based skincare company from their rural locale. It is a really inspiring conversation. And I hope you'll join us. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook at the Urban Exodus. To read more in depth features on folks who ditch the city and wait country, visit our website urban exodus.com urban Exodus is an enormous labor of love. If you appreciate the content we create, please consider supporting our efforts on Patreon. If you are a small business who would like to sponsor an episode, please visit the podcast page on our website to learn more. An enormous thank you to my team who made this podcast possible production by some only on editing by Ari Snyder and music by Benjamin birtherism. I'm Alissa Hessler and this is the urban Exodus, stay kind. Stay joyful, stay resilient

(Cont.) A poet of the people reconnects to the natural world and finds a place to call home | Inaugural poet and writer Richard Blanco in Bethel, ME