Hearts are usually broken in a moment, at a specific place. Michelle Penaloza, a poet who lives in Seattle, understands that memories, good, bad and everything in between, are tied to things. Maybe it was a song that was playing in the background. Or perhaps it’s a certain park bench where someone delivered bad news.
Penaloza took 22 people on walks that began at the old Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill. The destination for these walks was where the heartbreak occurred. One walk involved a ferry; another went all the way to Renton. Along the way, the person would tell Penaloza all that had transpired.
“There were people who had lost parents, who had lost children. One was basically about racism and being pushed out of Seattle,” says Penaloza.
Penaloza would record these conversations. After a walk, she’d listen back and capture the person's heartbreak in a poem. The collection of poems is in a book called "Landscape/Heartbreak."
Penaloza says going on these walks taught her many things, one of which is the healing power of being a good listener.