Marjorie Welish is the author of Handwritten (Sun, 1979). She has recently completed The Windows Flew Open, a second book-length manuscript of poems. Her essays on painting and literature appear regularly in American journals.
Working Notes, Marjorie Welish:
About travel, "A Way of Life" does no sight-seeing. Nor does this poem move through a landscape, shedding perceptions as it goes. These negatively-arrived-at determinations of formal limits put in place in advance enabled me to cope with the subject of travel without succumbing to the picaresque givens of the travelogue. Positively speaking, I chose to populate the poem with types--a vintner, a tourist, a concierge--and work with this readymade cast of characters throughout, closing the poem with a muted reprise of these characters, together with associated leitmotifs.
I further chose to alternate essay with lyric in the hope that this intertextual tactic would add to the destabilization of "feeling foreign," the ultimate theme of the poem.