Greetings, poets! This is my first day as part of the dVerse team and I must say this is quite a daunting moment. I hope you enjoy the prompt today. I certainly look forward to reading your poems.

A few days ago through a repeat on CNN, I discovered American chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain who hosts a fascinating travel and food show, Parts Unknown. Bourdain claims that a few aha moments shaped not only the way he sees food but life as a whole.

One such moment was a family trip to France. His first family’s trip there was spent at la Teste-sur-Mer, a tiny oyster village on the Bassin D’Arcachon in the Gironde. The neighbors were all oyster fishermen. The traditional houses had two kitchens, one inside and one outdoor where people cooked fish. One day much to his delight, the family was invited by Monsieur Saint-Jour, an oyster fisherman, out on his penas (oyster boat). They had already eaten the Brie and baguettes they had taken along, but Anthony was still hungry and complained about it.

When Monsieur Saint-Jour (interestingly the surname means ‘holy day’) inquired whether any of them would like to try an oyster, Anthony proudly volunteered to be the first. Many years later he still describes the moment as one of the proudest of his young life.

“And in that unforgettably sweet moment, that one moment still more alive for me than so many of the other “firsts” that followed – first sex, first joint, first day in high school, first published book – I attained glory. […]

I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour, and with one bite and a slurp wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater . . . of brine and flesh . . . and, somehow . . . of the future.

Everything was different now. Everything.

I’d not only survived – I’d enjoyed .

This, I knew, was the magic I had until now been only dimly and spitefully aware of. I was hooked. My parents’ shudders, my little brother’s expression of unrestrained revulsion and amazement only reinforced the sense that I had, somehow, become a man. I had had an adventure, tasted forbidden fruit, and everything that followed in my life – the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing, whether it was drugs or sex or some other new sensation – would all stem from this moment.

I’d learned something. Viscerally, instinctively, spiritually – even in some small, precursive way, sexually – and there was no turning back. The genie was out of the bottle. My life as a cook, and as a chef, had begun.”

Another significant moment for Anthony Bourdain was a trip to Vietnam many years later. He had visited a number of countries but his encounter with Vietnam was something else altogether.

“Something really happened to me in Vietnam. I think I instinctively knew it, and I think a lot of people around me knew it, but Asia ruined me for going back. Vietnam in particular ruined my whole life. My expectations for what I see when I open my eyes in the morning, or even little things like the condiments on the table when I sit down. That bar just went so high and so different that there was no going back.”


There is nothing new about such experience. When traveling became easier in the 19th century, numerous writers, and among them poets, also set out to discover the world. Invariably they write about it. Whether we have read the book or not we have all heard of Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey, which chronicles his solo hiking trip in the Cévennes in 1878. Less famous is his first travel writing, An Inland Voyage, a travelogue which recounts a canoe trip Stevenson and his friend Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson made in 1876 when setting out from Antwerp, the two friends paddled through Belgium and France along canals and the Oise River.

Stevenson however did not only resort to prose to express his love of traveling. In 1896 he published Songs of Travel and Other Verses, a book of poetry where he explores his perennial themes of travel and adventure. The Vagabond is the opening poem.

The Vagabond

Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway night me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river —
There’s the life for a man like me,
There’s the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger;
White as meal the frosty field —
Warm the fireside haven —
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope, nor love,
Nor a friend to know me.
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Numerous other poets have been inspired by their journeys. Only think of Kipling and India, Wordsworth and England’s Lake District, Carl Sandburg and Chicago, Elizabeth Bishop and Brazil, Robert Frost and rural New England to name only but a few.

This is the beginning of one of my favorite poems on the subject of traveling is For the Traveler by John O’Donohue

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.



All of us have traveled near or far, as children with our families, as youngsters exploring the world or as more mature adults. We may travel regularly or have once made the trip of a lifetime. We travel for work or for pleasure.

Think of a journey, or a series of journeys, that made an impression on you, even transformed you, and write about the experience. If you prefer, like O’Donohue, give advice to a potential traveler or imagine a trip you still dream about. In any case, write your own travel poetry.


– Bourdain, Anthony. “If You Can’t Stand the Heat”. The Guardian, 11 August 2000. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

– Bourdain, Anthony. Interview by Jessa Crispin. Bookslut, “An Interview with Anthony Bourdain”, 2006. Web. 08 Aug 2014.

What to do after you have written:

• Post your poem to your blog

• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below

• Read and comment on other people’s work to let them know it’s being read

• Share via your favorite social media platforms

• Above all- have fun!