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Letters from a Young Poet: A Lonesome Journey to the Heart of the Latin American Dream

by Michael Molyneux

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Inspired by a lonesome journey through South America, this collection of true stories documents an equally difficult journey through the dark corners of the human psyche via the colossal canyons of Peru, deserted strips of paradise in Ecuador, volcanic salt-flats in Bolivia, windswept grasslands of Patagonia,  and the far reaches of Tierra Del Fuego. With engaging descriptions and intriguing tales, Molyneux delivers a sensual portrait of a wild continent, exploring cultural landscapes and the nature of human restlessness and ecstasy. Ultimately, these stories, as all others, are about the essential elements of the human condition: suffering and love.

TRAVEL / South America/ General

ISBN: 978-1-941830-64-2 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-941830-65-9 (digital)

LCCN: 2017936017

Released 2017

230 pages

Author Biography

Michael Molyneux was born in Preston, England, in 1982. As a young man, in a small woodfire cottage on the west coast of Ireland, his uncle gave him copies of Jack Kerouac's Selected Letters, Carlos Castaneda's Teachings of Don Juan, and John Muir's My First Summer In The Sierra, and “widened out the boundaries of [his] being.”

A series of hiking trips around Europe cemented the belief that, as Muir had observed, “going out . . . was really going in.” He developed an interest in poetry and meditation and studied philosophy at university. He had a series of short-term jobs: careworker for Alzheimer’s patients, postman, note-taker for deaf undergraduates, reader for a blind law lecturer, book seller, pizza maker, gardener, and painter.

He hitchhiked to London to take an English-teaching course, after which he moved to Galicia in northern Spain to work in a language school. He saved up enough money to spend a year traveling around Latin America, the trip on which Letters from a Young Poet is based, before moving to Borneo to work on a teaching development project while completing the book. He now lives in Santa Marta on Colombia's northern coast, between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Caribbean sea.



“Articulate and speculative, Michael Molyneux’s Letters from a Young Poet describes both an outward journey and an inward search for meaning and purpose. ‘Mindfulness’ may be the key term that applies to this narrative in which the author travels in a more or less aimless fashion through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina — aimless, that is, in the sense that it is not driven by a timetable with specific goals. The goal, indeed, is experience and whatever insights that brings. Mindfulness, then, is the vehicle for appreciating experience and is ultimately the key to our moral responsibility.

“Born in the United Kingdom, Molyneux was influenced at an early age by the writings of Jack Kerouac and Carlos Castaneda. The effects of these authors on his free-spirited and mystical thinking are apparent throughout, but so too are dozens of others, from Hemingway to Nietzsche to Burroughs. Molyneux’s prose is dense and thoughtful and brims with intelligence and wisdom.”

— Charles Rammelkamp, author of Fusen Bakudan: Poems of Altruism and Tragedy in Wartime and Mata Hari: Eye of the Day


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