Travels through the Poetry Archive

I’ve argued here before (and no doubt will again) that poetry shouldn’t be forgotten in any talk of what constitutes travel writing. It can evoke the highs and lows of life on the road, the joys and disappointments, the longing to escape, as crisply as it conjures places. For some reminders of that, dip into the redesigned version of the online Poetry Archive, which Andrew Motion was commending in The Guardian last weekend. You could start with Leontia Flynn’s “The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled”, or Brian Patten’s “Geography Lesson”.

Alternatively, try keying, say, “places” or “travel” into the search engine. Once you’ve read or listened to a poem (or done both at the same time), you’ll see a panel headed “Where next?”, with a suggestion that might take you further down the road you’re on or abruptly in a different direction. It’s the perfect vehicle for virtual travel.

One gripe: the proof-reading isn’t up to the standards of the poems. On Leontia Flynn’s page, for example, pretension is rendered pretention, and a word the poet reads as “led” appears in the written version in the present tense.

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