Travel Guides

I wrote this poem thinking about both the process of traveling and the experience of reading and writing. I really enjoy traveling, and I think that experiencing new and different cultures is an integral component to understanding the world around us. When I travel, I enjoy being well informed about the areas that I am going to, and try to gather as much information about areas as I can. Although this provides me with the opportunity to learn a great deal about these areas, I often wonder if I privilege the information in these travel guides more than I ought to. Rather than going out and trying to experience something for myself, I rely on the information that is given to me about what are good places to see, good places to eat, etc. In many ways, I think this process becomes analogous to reading. While I genuinely enjoy reading and writing, I can find that analysis sometimes constricts the enjoyment of a piece of art. Finding a balance between personal interpretation and intellectually accepted analysis is interesting to me, although the process can be exhausting at times. The reference to dirigibles and submersibles relates to an interest that I had in science fiction and fantasy writing (especially of the steampunk persuasion) when I was younger. It is an area within writing/subculture that I no longer actively engage with, and I wonder sometimes about when I stopped enjoying it as much as I once did.

Travel Guides

Pick your trip based on the cheapest airfare. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it just matters that you’re going somewhere. Exploration is exciting. There is something to be said for trying new things. Buy your ticket, and plan your itinerary and course of action. There are a hundred ways to approach it.

Buy your tickets in shopping malls, in the bodega while getting a pack of cigarettes, in the used bookstores that smell like vanilla and dust. You are England. You are Romania. You are India. You are, you are, you are. Your travel guide charts the way around your body – know it intimately, and understand the sighs of pleasure and defeat. Your preferences for prose or poetry matter: do not discredit them. But do not discount the value of novelty in novels, newness in news. You are not tethered, but teething. Beginning to taste and tell when something is or isn’t working.

On certain days, there will be no airfare. There will be no exploring and no wondering and no wandering and no wanting or waiting. You will not have arrived, because there is no arriving. Your submersible has not reached the right depths, your dirigible not the right heights.

You will not travel today.

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