Assistant Professor of English Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of an autobiographical essay, “How to Leave Home,” that was included in “The Movable Nest: A Mother/Daughter Companion,” an anthology edited by Marilyn Kallet and Kathryn Stripling Byer and recently published by Helicon Nine Editions. Other contributors to the anthology include former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton and Alicia Ostriker.
“How to Leave Home,” set in the summer of 1997, describes Alleyne's preparation to leave her home in Trinidad, the uncertainty of travel, the value of family and the importance of ritual and prayer.
“It is the Sunday before I leave for New York. I am only supposed to be going for four years, but it is understood that it may be much longer,” she writes. “I am fortunate to embark on a journey that will take me to new and exciting places, one that will provide opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I will go to college – be the first in my family to do so, and I will make a life for myself and for those behind: my sister, my brother, my parents. Much has been given, much is expected, and suddenly I am afraid. For I know too that the bank has refused our loan, that the plane tickets have to be paid for, that all our savings have been converted and amount to less than $500 US dollars. I know that my father is still not working; there are schoolbooks and uniforms to get for my brother and sister, and I am building my future at their expense. They trust me to make their sacrifice worthwhile. And I know that I do not know this place I am going to, that I love what I am leaving behind. I am struck with terror.”
“It was a big deal to leave home for me,” Alleyne says, “and really, once I did that, I think I was freed in important ways (not without their own complications) and that letting go prepared me for the work of writing.”
“The Movable Nest” is a collection of poetry, stories, creative nonfiction and letters written by more than 50 outstanding women in contemporary American literature “centered around the relationships between mothers and daughters, and examines how those relationships change with time and distance,” Alleyne says.
“My mother and I are extremely close,” says Alleyne, “and she is a huge presence in my life: physically, spiritually, emotionally. I'd go so far as to say all my work overtly or covertly is influenced by her. But in this piece, I think what it shows, or what I found out through writing it, is how much her confidence in me gave me confidence in myself.”
Alleyne and others will read selections from the anthology on Mother's Day in New York City. She says, “I met [the editor] Marilyn Kallet when I was a graduate student; she gave a paper and reading at a conference and mentioned the anthology. We spoke briefly after her panel, and when I said I was working on a piece that was a good fit, she invited me to submit.”
Additionally, Alleyne's chapbook, “Dawn in the Kaatskills,” will be released this month from Longshore Press. She has also received an artist residency at Jentel Artist Residency in Wyoming for a month-long stay during the summer.
Alleyne holds a B.A. in English from St. Francis College, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Iowa State University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Cornell University. She has been a lecturer at Cornell and Chatham Universities and a writing center coordinator at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. Her work has been published in several literary journals and anthologies, including “The Belleview Literary Review” and “Growing Up Girl.” This semester she is teaching Creative Writing, The Craft of Fiction, and Literary Consciousness.