Published : on Travelling for Versopolis, being followed by a corpse


The next, maybe last, of my poetic essay articles on themes for Versopolis, the European Review of Literature.

“The figure in the centre, who keeps pinching and pulling his shirt forward, to fan himself and allow the sweat to run into his shoes, declares that travel writing is the most ancient form of literature. He’s not being combative, it’s an event about travel writing, he has the audience in acquiescence. They have come to see him speak specifically, his name draws them in. Look to Ibn Jabaya, look to Marco Polo, he says. The novel is a far more modern invention, he says. The novel more modern, but perhaps, if we consider epic poetry to be its precursor, then not so, he adds, as an addendum. The travelling poet has a grand tradition. Look to Li Po. Look to Hessian. Poetry, yes, poetry is the oldest form of literature, it vies with travel writing, he says. Perhaps we can add a few since then to that list? Auden and Isherwood? I feel myself as likely to be in their company as I am to draw crowds at an international festival. I couldn’t draw crowds in a bar in my hometown. And all the gladder I am for that fact. Had I desire to be that man upon the stages, addressing the hundreds, I wouldn’t be a poet. I’d write something people actually read, like a young adult novel about a dystopian future, or magicians, or I’d write a travel book.”