Poems for the Road, Part I

The longest journey is inward.  -Dag Hammerskjold

It's vacation time again and I've been thinking a lot about journeys.

Whenever I go on a trip, along with the beach reads and travel guides,  I take along a book of poetry or two, and I'll tell you why:  because most poems are relatively short and poetry collections don't rely on narrative flow the way novels do, you can slip in and out of them more or less randomly. Waiting for the waitperson to bring you coffee? Grab a slice of Dickinson. Can’t bear to hear the summer’s official anthem even one more time? Read one of Rilke's Duino Elegies aloud to the cows grazing in the pasture at the side of the road. 

Send me your suggestions

In the next few weeks I will recommend some poets from Harris County Public Library’s collections that should make good travel companions (even if you’re only going as far as your backyard wading pool). If you have any favorite poems about journeys, whether outward or inward, please write me a comment and I’ll choose some to share in coming posts.

We got the Beat(s)
I’ll start us off with a couple representatives of the Beat Generation known for their frenetic crisscrossing of the globe in search of that illusive something.
Big SurJack Kerouac is most famous for his autobiographical novels (On the Road, Big Sur, The Subterraneans to name a few), but he was also a dedicated and imaginative poet. Book of Blues, Book of Haikus, Pomes All Sizes and Mexico City Blues are four of his better known collections.
Gary Snyder, who was the model for the character Japhy Ryder in Kerouac's novel Dharma Bums). is another poet who has drawn a lot of energy from journeys both inward and outward. Turtle Island is a fine example of his meditative, Zen-inflected views of the world.
Happy trails to you all and don’t forget to write.