“In a century of mass migration and deportation, political exile and casual tourism, being elsewhere was the common condition. For the moderns, elsewhere was not merely physical location or dislocation, but was intrinsic to the work. Victor Segalen, in China at the beginning of the century, writes of the ‘manifestation of Diversity,’ a ‘spectacle of Difference’: everything that is ‘foreign, strange, unexpected, surprising, mysterious, amorous, superhuman, heroic, and even divine, everything that is Other.’ Picasso put it more bluntly: ‘Strangeness is what we wanted to make people think about because we were quite aware that our world was becoming very strange.’ After Guillaume Apollinaire’s ‘Zone’—perhaps the most influential poem of the century—collage, the juxtaposition of disparate elements, the manifestation of diversity, the making of the strange, became the primary new form of the new poetry.
“From the count examples, here are a few instances of the collage of a poet pasted, physically or mentally, onto a specific unfamiliar landscape.” So begins Eliot Weinberger’s essayistic travels into the nature of “journey” poetry. From Kōtarō Takamura's poem about Paris, to Fernando Pessoa’s “At the wheel of the Chevrolet on the road to Sintra,” to Apollinaire’s “Ocean-Letter,” Weinberger introduces fourteen poems illustrating the contemporary situation of being “elsewhere.”