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An American Map

Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen

Award Winner

Creative Nonfiction, Michigan

Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: April 2010
ISBN: 9780814334201
Pages: 224 Size: 5x8
Published: April 2010
ISBN: 9780814335291

Anne-Marie Oomen's full-hearted essays in An American Map remind us that to be rooted in place is also to be rooted in tenderness and compassion toward humanity.

— Debra Gwartney

In An American Map, Anne-Marie Oomen, award-winning writer and self-confessed northern Michigan homebody, chronicles her recent travels across America, in essays that span rediscovered landscapes, wild back roads, vital cities, and everything in between. Oomen takes both a wide and narrow lens to her destinations, giving readers a vivid sense of each locale while finding resonances between each place and her own experiences. With each new adventure, Oomen finds her sense of self deepening and becoming more clearly rooted in the larger adventure of America.

The evocative essays of An American Map consider locations across the United States, from the poetry of Alpine meadows to the terror of desert border crossings, the irony of ocean floors littered with live ordnance, and the excitement of a rural film premiering in New York City. Oomen’s warm, personal voice takes readers into the heart of each experience, as she imagines that a place like the Smoky Mountains could offer insight into the Iraq War or that a decaying war tank could help save rare turtles. Oomen proves that the value of travel is not merely in the physical place but the spiritual or meditative place it allows us to visit at the same time.

Fans of Oomen’s writing, as well as all readers interested in travel writing, will appreciate the unique insights and diverse landscapes of An American Map.

Anne-Marie Oomen is a poet, playwright, essayist, and instructor of creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy and instructor for the Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College. She is author of Pulling Down the Barn (Wayne State University Press, 2004), House of Fields (Wayne State University Press, 2006), and Un-coded Woman; two chapbooks of poetry, Seasons of the Sleeping Bear and Moniker (with Ray Nargis); and the award-winning play Northern Belles.

In these essays of place, Anne-Marie Oomen-poet, playwright, performer, teacher, memoirist-turns experience in her prose like a precious jewel, polishing every facet. With penetrating insight, generous warmth, and keen attention to the lilt and heft of language, she transforms each locale she occupies into a place that inhabits the reader."

– Robert Root, author of Following Isabella, editor of Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place

Anne-Marie Oomen's full-hearted essays in An American Map remind us that to be rooted in place is also to be rooted in tenderness and compassion toward humanity. Her beautiful language and elegant images lead us to a clarified sense of our yearning to belong-to a people and to a place. It's very satisfying to go along as she moves through landscapes that feed her, from the mist-drenched mountains of Puerto Rico to the urban precincts of New York and back to her own home in northern Michigan, and to go along with her as she fervently embraces her own family relationships and confronts her fears about human fate."

– Debra Gwartney, author of Live Through This and co-editor, with Barry Lopez, of Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

In this wonderfully moving book, Anne Marie Oomen, one of our finest regional essayists, goes looking for a larger map. She hits the road in the true American spirit, although this traveler is a midwestern woman, comfortable with her age and uncertainties. She turns the passion and precision of her prose on places as different as the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the Santa Monica pier, as the coral reefs off Puerto Rico and the alvar plains on Drummond Island. As she must, she returns to northwestern Michigan, the home ground of her imagination, with a generous vision that allows all of us to share in the fragile but precious knowledge she has acquired on her journey."

– Keith Taylor, author of <a href="http://wsupress.wayne.edu/books/973/If-the-World-Becomes-So-Bright">If the World Becomes So Bright</a>

Oomen, who loves 'home and isolation' in Empire, Lake Michigan, makes surprising pilgrimages to the four corners of the nation. Her gifts are evocation of place, bringing a new-born freshness to landscape, flora, and weather, and her empathy for people linked to the land-an old Indian close to her home, a Puerto Rican flower grower on a pilgrimage to the rain forest peak of El Yunque-are beautifully drawn."

– Peter Skinner

One of Oomen's many talents as a writer is for lovely, complicated sentences that offer a careful understanding of the actions taking places and an acknowledgement of the deeper undercurrent that stirs below the surface. Part traveler's guide, part soul-searching memoir, part political commentary, An American Map is a richly painted canvas of the small but resonating experiences of a woman in love with, and inquisitive of, her home country."

– ForeWord Magazine

  • 2010 ForeWord Book of the Year Award - Result: WINNER in the category of Essays.