The Grand Tour

Jan Elaine Harris

Lipscomb University


“The Grand Tour” includes a series of erasure poems written using early twentieth century travel guides. The travel guide genre bridges the gap between high and low art merging the critic’s diction with practical information. Weaving together train timetables and literary allusion, these guides reveal how the upper middle classes of Europe and America wished to view their world and themselves. For readers who could not afford to visit the Coliseum or Delphi, travel guides granted them a voyeur’s entrée to exotic destinations and contact, at one remove, to the cultural capital travel provided. Baedeker’s eighth edition of Deutschland (1858) informs its readers that if they use the guidebook properly it will: “assist him (sic) in standing on his own feet, to render him independent, and to place him in a position from which he may receive his own impressions with clear eyes.”

The erasure poems in “The Grand Tour” celebrate the ambition of guides like Baedeker’s to render readers of all classes independent through access. These poems seek to unearth untold stories of the last generations who read these guides, both the ones who embarked and those who remained at home. Each poem’s title identifies the guide, the section title, and the specific page number from which they are taken.  The words in the poem appear in order of their placement on the page. As much as possible, the use of phrases, or multiple words in close sequence, have been avoided.  All the connecting words, articles, and prepositions also appear on the pages listed in the poem’s title. Several of these poems will appear in the fall 2017 issue of Waxing and Waning.

2018 National Conference
Presentation type: 
Creative work