I had parents who were attentive to what was going on politically. There was the Greek connection, a sense of a larger world. People coming in from abroad. There was a sense of community around ideas: a discourse and an adhesiveness which is my favorite word from [Walt] Whitman.
I did go to Vietnam in 2000 as a kind of pilgrimage and to feel my generation was very much a part of this. I felt responsible but also connected and empathetic. It was a very complicated relationship we had, whichever side you were on. The shock of being there was very few people my own age - I was primarily in the North in the streets of Hanoi. A whole generation was essentially decimated.
The beat literary movement is strong because of those very challenging and individual relationships and styles and contention and so on. So I just feel blessed by this kind of opportunity that came from it. It was a kind of seed.
I'm concerned about the overuse of spectacular places. And there's no real wilderness left and so there's a heartbreak there. You can go anywhere and be rescued through your cell phone and have some helicopter drop down.
It was a little harder when I first went to Egypt when I was 18 years old and being a white woman with a knapsack and in blue jeans. But again I was part of the rucksack revolution there was some grace there. You could put it that way. And confidence as well because I thought of myself as a poet. That was part of it. I was going for that, to have experiences to make the work.
I don't demonize the downside. As we've seen in Egypt and Tahrir square and other recent event, the adhesiveness through [technology] kinds of communication is extraordinary. Interesting times we live in.