‘He who knows the surface of the earth and the topography of a country only through the examination of maps is like a man who learns the opera of Meyerbeer or Rossini by reading only reviews in the newspapers. The brush of landscape artists Lorrain, Ruysdael, or Calame can reproduce on canvas the sun's ray, the coolness of the heavens, the green of the fields, the majesty of the mountains…but what can never be stolen from Nature is that vivid impression that she alone can and knows how to impart—the music of the birds, the movement of the trees, the aroma peculiar to the place—the inexplicable something the traveller feels that cannot be defined and which seems to awaken in him distant memories of happy days, sorrows and joys gone by, never to return.’
—José Rizal, "Los Viajes"
Rizal trod this path to his death. Shot by the Spanish in 1896 for being too close to the nascent Katipunan Philippine revolution, this poet, philosopher and polymath understood that travelling is something more than linear; it is both ephemeral and permanent, the product of experience and reflection, the instant of its happening and the lifetime of its interpretation.
Travel needs movement. Whether it is the physical hardship of a journey through the wasted spaces of our planet or the darker corners of the human psyche, as each step proceeds, each experience becomes another, and each reflection on that journey ultimately changes as it enfolds. And, with each deliberation, long after the act of travel has finished, we make that journey again and again in yet more directions, never standing still, never reaching the end.
Poetry is such a travel. A simple walk, a long march, or even a deadly struggle, it can be towards or through or away from something that is always shifting, always in the periphery of vision that somehow we never manage to pin down. Even the hard facts that surround us change—mirrors to our persistent ephemerality, witnesses to our fundamental illusoriness; they are though, what perhaps is the best of us, snapshots of a personal journey that has meaning for others who travel similarly. We hope too, that the journey continues after even we do—a work that travels long after we are dead.
We hope that you enjoy your passage through these poems of journey, meeting up with wherever they originated from, and wherever it is that they happen to be going to.
SCR+II nominated these poems for the 2007 Pushcart Prize. They were selected for nomination by all the editors from those published in SCR+II throughout 2007:
Mike Alexander 'Convert'
Rachel Bunting 'Exhumation'
Rose Kelleher 'Mortimer'
Danielle Lapidoth 'The Fight'
Dave McClure 'The Pessimistic Ballade of Arbitrary Behaviour'
Rick Mullin 'Shrine to Satan'
Congratulations to these poets!
Pat Jones: My pick is Clawson's 'Voyager'. I will never see a van in traffic again without recalling this poem, looking for a big gold balloon, maybe even nine rising above it... hoping it misses the Lexus. I can say nothing finer about a poem than to say, as an artist, it has imagery I will remember forever.
Nigel Holt: I like Emily Brink's 'Outsiders'. The strength of this poem lies in its particularly well-fanged imagery that leaves red marks on the memory: a fine twenty-first century image of a poem.
Angela France: My pick is Peter Wyton's 'Particles of Vera' because the poem takes me travelling with it and because the thought of this disabled old lady sashaying past immigration officials, unseen, makes me smile.
Don Zirilli: I have to pick Nigel McLoughlin's 'Snapshot' simply for its triumph over the villanelle form. Notice how the repetend is used to keep changing the poem, instead of pulling it back into a mere repetition. I've never read anything like it before. I liked it before I realized it was a villanelle. When does that ever happen?
Paul Stevens: Tim Murphy's 'Two Miles West' is the one that speaks most to me from this selection. The poem reads with an apparent simplicity, and has a ballad-like mood, and a circularity of structure that plays interesting games with its themes of movement and rest.
The Next Shit Creek Review...
Will have Masks as its theme. See our Submissions Page for more details.