Wherever I Wander
by Judith Azrael

Impassio Press, 2004. ISBN 0971158347.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 10/22/2004

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Travel/Adventure; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

"There are times when each day seems a miracle of brightness and of joy. I wish I could look everywhere at once."

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon traveling vicariously with Judith Azrael. She uses words to sketch her journeys so we can see the world through her eyes. Her descriptions are so vivid that you want to be there and experience it with her. A monk once told her, "It isn't necessary to plan. Allow for not knowing." So, she says, "I sit quietly with the realization that this present moment is enough."

Her book includes themes about solo traveling, creative writing, and Buddhism. It is a collection of lyrical prose written over 22 years that chronicles her experiences as a traveler, writer, and spiritual seeker. A voyage of discovery...inside and out. Judith also took up painting. Although she admits that she is not an artist, she longed to recreate and pay homage to the beauty around her.

"It doesn't matter where I am," she writes. "I have spent years moving between places and yet nothing changes. My fears and hopes and dreams come with me."

The author worked with prison inmates, using writing exercises that have given me ideas for jumpstarting my own writing. But she also had times of frustration with the arduous process of sending out her own writings. It made me feel better about my own writing crises.

This is a book that you can either read quickly or digest a little at a time. My experience was one of reading and then rereading because I wanted to absorb all the images.

Judith Azrael is the author of four books of poetry. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, received her MFA from the University of Oregon, and taught writing workshops at art centers and colleges. She lives on San Juan Island and has two children and two grandchildren.

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