In my senior year of high school I took AP Literature. We had a new-to-the-school teacher who was all of twenty-three at the time. He started growing a beard halfway through the school year to try and look older. He prepared us for the AP Literature test but he also was working with basically no syllabus often asking his classes what we would want to read.
One book that he did assign, because it was a favorite of his, was A Room With a View by E. M. Forster. People talk a lot more about Howard’s End as one of Forster’s major works with it’s theme to “only connect” and the disastrous consequences of the characters’ attempts to do just that. But since reading it in high school, A Room With a View has had my heart and remains, I think, one of the sweeter classics I’ve read.
I’m not mentioning this to rehash Lucy Honeychurch’s stunning and dramatic romance with George Emerson. I won’t even share the two poems I wrote about Lucy and George, or my intense opinions on the movie adaptation.
Instead I start here because this book (and probably a few other classics I read as a teen) introduced me to the idea of Baedecker travel guides. I don’t know much about these books beyond the fact that they did exist and were the travel books for their time. But it’s one of those things that stuck in my mind. How strange to have a book you could reference as the Baedecker and everyone would know what you meant. How bizarre that it is completely obsolete by now.
This poem started with the idea of dozens of things going wrong. In particular “We saw all the wrong places / with all the wrong people” kept bouncing around in my head as I tried to figure out what kind of poem would fit that phrase.
Eventually I realized something about travel was the exact right topic. I went through a few different cities and disasters to start the poem before setting on the ones that made it in here. Similarly it took a while to pinpoint what, exactly, went wrong. In fact, the only thing I knew immediately after decided I wanted a travel poem was the title.
I’m still not sure if this poem is finished. It feels like there could be more to say or a better way to say what’s here. But for now I’m calling this poem finished. My own riff on travel and how even the worst trips can make for the best memories.
Note: This poem is an original work by me. If you are so inclined you can share it but please do so by crediting me (Emma Carbone not Miss Print) and linking back to this post.
Talk to me about your favorite poems or poetic context in the comments and be sure to check back every day this April for more poetry-related posts and guest posts.