Category Archives: Travel for Poets

Extraordinary 2003 History Channel Documentary on Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss: Rhymes and Reasons (2003 documentary) Part 1 of 9
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. 
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. 
Look’em over with care. 
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” 
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, 
you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. 
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. 
It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do 
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. 
Don’t stew. Just go right along. 
You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. 
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. 
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. 
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups 
and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. 
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. 
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. 
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. 
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darker. 
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! 
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? 
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? 
Or, maybe, not quite? 
Or go around back and sneak in from behind? 
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, 
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in 
to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace 
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, 
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, 
or a plane to go or the mail to come, 
or the rain to go or the phone to ring, 
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No 
or waiting for their hair to grow. 
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite 
or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, 
for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, 
or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, 
or Another Chance. 
Everyone is just waiting.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. 
You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. 
With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! 
Ready for anything under the sky. 
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! 
There is fun to be done! 
There are points to be scored. 
There are games to be won. 
And the magical things you can do with that ball 
will make you the winning-est winner of all. 
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, 
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. 
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, 
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll 
meet things that scare you right out of your pants. 
There are some, down the road between hither and yon, 
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul. 
On you will go though your enemies prowl. 
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. 
Onward up many a frightening creek, 
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. 
On and on you will hike. 
And I know you’ll hike far 
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. 
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. 
So be sure when you step. 
Step with care and great tact 
and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. 
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. 
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby 
or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, 
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


Role Model to Superheroes: the Father of Horace (and Horace)

The elder Horace, a freed slave, was able to spend considerable money on his son’s education: accompanying him first to Rome for his primary education, then sending him to Athens to study Greek and philosophy. The poet later expressed his gratitude in a tribute to his father:
If my character is flawed by a few minor faults, but is otherwise decent and moral, if you can point out only a few scattered blemishes on an otherwise immaculate surface, if no one can accuse me of greed, or of prurience, or of profligacy, if I live a virtuous life, free of defilement (pardon, for a moment, my self-praise), and if I am to my friends a good friend, my father deserves all the credit… As it is now, he deserves from me unstinting gratitude and praise. I could never be ashamed of such a father, nor do I feel any need, as many people do, to apologize for being a freedman’s son.  Satires 1.6.65–92

Project Gutenberg

The Latin Library

Thumbs Up! David Choe and the Poetry of Ksemendra

David Choe is one of the most talented visual artists of our generation. He has documented his travels by hitch-hiking across the world.  Not necessarily to reach a specific destination so much as meet everyday people along the way.  His engaging light-hearted humor and easy manner make for great listening while you work.  I hope you find inspiration for travels of your own in his videos:

Online Hitch-hiking Community (don’t do this by yourself…jumping even slow moving freight-trains is extraordinarily dangerous; pros get on at the back, they never climb aboard even gradually moving walking-pace trains. What happens is: when you begin to lift yourself into a boxcar your legs swing under the carriage, leaving half of your body hanging over the tracks with nothing to push your feet off of…you hang there for maybe even several hours before dropping to be cut in half across the rails. Don’t jump on slow moving trains; only get on stopped trains, travel with friends.)

This is my favorite poem by far, written during the 1150s in Kashmir by a poet named Ksemendra:

Poets should learn with their eyes 
the forms of leaves. 
They should know how to make people laugh
when all are together.
They should get to see what people are really like.
They should know about oceans and mountains
in themselves,
and the sun and the moon and the stars.
Their minds should enter into the seasons.
They should go among many people in many places,
and learn their languages. 

My own small light-weight backpack named Henrietta…she usually carries little more than a pair of convertible short/long-pants, a shirt, a lot of socks, tooth brush/toothpaste, and books found and traded along the way. We travel very, very, verrrrry fast. Overnight trains and night-busses are a way to meet locals and move quickly over long distances. (Henrietta is Canadian, I am not…she thought the flag would be a good idea after the start of the Iraq war but most people overseas are extremely welcoming so it has not proven necessary…and…most foreigners think Canada is part of America anyway, as in: “Canada? Oh! New York City!”

Using Google Earth to Complement and Organize Stories

For whomever may be interested in using Google Earth to enhance narratives, check out:
Fantastic YouTube GE channel with quick useful tutorials:
GE support group with timeslider tools, models, etc:
.kmz file from the above bulletin board with places mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays:

GoogleLitTrips links page:
Cool screenshots of “Grapes of Wrath” from LitTrips:
Record a fly-through tour of a character’s travels for sharing on a blog:
“The Sightseer” – Google Earth’s Monthly Newsletter:
Overview of GE capabilities (cool sunlight animation):
Thanks to Ted Mathot for inspiration.  Check out how Ted has used Google Maps to follow his character Cora’s journey through the American West.

Storytelling in Song: Kerrville Folk Music Festival

Great storytelling can be found in songs and some of the best narrative songwriters can be heard around campfires for an entire month in Kerrville, Texas each summer.  Check them out sometime.  Bring a tent, your sketchbook, and a smile while pausing to listen to some of the best storytellers in America from your campsite. (There are even storytelling workshops!)
Actually very sophisticated advice on how to write a narrative song, useful for writers of all kinds:
Some of the most gifted ‘Americana’ storytellers: