"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 W. Ruth Kozak


If you visit my city, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, you are sure to spend some time in one of Vancouver’s unique tourist attractions, Stanley Park. The park became the favorite haunt of an Indian princess/poet, Pauline Johnson, the first Native Indian to be published in Canada. Her book “The White Wampum” gained her high literary standing.
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Think Twain, think Hannibal, Missouri. Think Twain, think Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. All of the various places that have been ingrained in literature and carved into the fertile imagination of young boys and girls since the publication of these two books, are based on real life characters of their creator, Mark Twain.
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In 2014 Swansea, Wales is celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the English languages most distinctive voices. The year-long celebration will honour the works and legacy of Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century.
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García Lorca came from Andalucía, Spain’s arid southern-most region. Perched on the Mediterranean and looking towards North Africa, Andalucía has never forgotten its Moorish past, nor its legacy of multiculturalism – part Jewish, part Gypsy, part Arab, part Berber and, of course, part Spanish.
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“Fair Verona” is brimming with historical and artistic treasures. However, it is the home of a fictional character which attracts the largest number of visitors. Each year, thousands of romantics head for “Casa di Giulietta”, (“Juliet’s House”), a 13th century building which has been claimed as the probable home of the young girl who inspired the greatest love story of all time.
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Yannis Ritsos was one of Greece most beloved poets and is considered one of the five great Greek poets of the twentieth century. He won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1956 and was named a Golden Wreath Laureate in 1985. Although much of the old “lower” town is in ruins, the family home of Yannis Ritsos has been restored and turned into a museum. There is a monument to the poet outside the house.
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Byron first visited Greece in 1809, landing in the town of Parga. From there he went north to Ioannina where the infamous Ali Pasha held sway. While there he visited the Pasha who had an even shadier reputation with women than the poet. It was during his stay that Byron began his autobiographical narrative poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which commemorated his meeting with Ali Pasha who had lavished hospitality on him.
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Often, as a teenager, before drifting off to sleep, the first lines of her novel floated through my mind: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” I read Out of Africa, Karen Blixen’s memoir chronicling the struggles on her Kenyan coffee farm, when I was sixteen. I had not read the book in years but her farm, her Africa, had become part of the geography of my mind. A place forged out of teenage longing.
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