Verses of Voyage: Summertime and Travel Poetics

Travel poetics belongs to the genre of travel writing

Summer is the season for the great outdoors and travel!  Whether it’s a vacation to an exotic land, a weekend camping trip, a picnic in a local park or a trek on a nearby trail, most everyone takes time to explore natural surroundings and reserves his or her vacation days for these warmer months to capitalize on the abundance of sun by going somewhere the rest of the year fails to so aptly afford.  While most of us remember to pack sunblock for our expeditions, very few people—even writers—plan for the great inspiration travel (ranging from great distances or daytrips) will afford.  Thus, many of us fail to outfit our adventures with notebooks or laptops, or whatever writing devices of which we make use…and more often we return home with cheap novelties, rather than poetic production.  I hope after reading this, you will realize the availability of influence in your outings and the overall value in travel poetics.

Travel poetics belongs to the genre of travel writing, which focuses on accounts of real or imaginary places.  Often associated with tourism, this genre encompasses various styles ranging from literary to journalistic, comical to critical and informative to evocative.  The purpose of travel writing is to commemorate experiences and relay exposures to readers about destinations, therefore giving them a sense of where a writer has been and perhaps even inspiring readers to travel to a destination.  Travel literature, to which travel poetics belongs, is travel writing aspiring to literary value.  More than merely a description or explanation, travel poetics typically exhibits a coherent narrative or aesthetic transcending the chronicling of dates and events.

One of the principal reasons travel poetics is so interesting and important is because most of us express different aspects of ourselves when we are on vacation, as opposed to when we are in the midst of our daily nine-to-five grind in our commonplace surroundings.  Furthermore, a change in setting also cultivates a change in perception.  Indeed, we see different sights as we travel; yet we also return home with the mental and emotional impressions of these apprehensions, and the way we observe and regard our familiar world never remains exactly the same as before our bags were packed.  If we do not take the time to acknowledge, explore and author the parts of ourselves and our experiences expressed in our journeys, we are doing a disservice not only to our writing and readers, but more importantly to ourselves.

Go on a Trip with These Travel  Poets and Poems!

Homer’s Odyssey

Walt Whitman’s “A Promise to California”

Emily Dickinson’s “I like to see it lap the miles”

Ezra Pound’s “The Seafarer”

Rita Dove’s “Vacation”

William Blake’s “Great things are done when men and mountains meet”

Gene Zeiger’s “Highway”

e.e. cumming’s “what is”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Secret of the Sea”

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo”

Beginner’s Tip: If you don’t feel comfortable dedicating your vacation time to writing poetry, consider taking photographs of wherever you are and what you see.  Most of us already do this when we are somewhere out of the ordinary, so it shouldn’t impede your plans; and this will ensure you have stimulating photographic evidence of your travel upon which to later reflect when you have time to write.