Reading present-day poems about faraway places or past eras is a way for you to travel there without leaving the comfort of your home and can inspire you when planning your next trip. There is so much we can learn when we have the means to travel to other cities and countries.
It is possible to visit the homes of famous poets (for example, the E. E. Cummings House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, the Jacques Prévert House in La Hague, France and Pablo Neruda’s houses in and near Santiago, Chile).
You can also follow famous poets in their footsteps by going on the same trips that they went on before. Matsuo Bashō, the inventor of the haiku took a trip up through the Japanese island of Honshu that he wrote about in a book called The Narrow Road to the Interior. You can follow his same itinerary today.
Beyond tourism, studying or temporarily working abroad can open our eyes to other perspectives and lifestyles. Poems are a way to capture these experiences in words. Many poets have written about the countries they stayed in while living abroad.
Every day in the news, we see stories of people fleeing persecution, violence, famine, natural disasters, war, economic hardship, etc. to settle in another country and seek a better life for themselves and their children. Others just want to see what life is like in another country.
Regardless of why the immigrant or migrant has left his or her home country to settle in another one, it is not easy to be uprooted and then adapt to a new language and culture. Some contemporary poems focus on migration and immigration.
Thanks to translated poems, you can discover different peoples and places on all continents.
Reading poems written by poets from other cultures is a way to help us better understand and communicate with those who are different from us. Like photography, cinema, music and other literary genres, contemporary poetry has the power to open minds and foster cross-cultural understanding.