Pico Iyer on what makes good travel writing

“Travel writing is essentially a dialogue between a person and a place, and the dialogue is only as rich as what the person brings to it — the extent to which that person brings the weight and intensity of his questions or his hauntedness or his uncertainties. All of us when we’re traveling have remarkable encounters and feelings and experiences, but the reason that we cherish certain writers is that they are bringing something to these places that none of us could ever have expected.”
–Pico Iyer, from “A New Kind of Travel for a New Kind of World”, a speech given at the Key West Literary Seminar, January 5, 2006

Note: This is an outtake from Pico Iyer’s dazzling opening night speech at this year’s Key West Literary Seminar. I will be posting several more items from this literary seminar in coming days — and several more outtakes from Iyer’s speech in coming weeks.

Posted by | Comments (4)  | January 19, 2006
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

4 Responses to “Pico Iyer on what makes good travel writing”

  1. Drew Says:

    Rolf, Could you post the whole speech when you get a chance? I’d love (and I’m sure many others) would like to have the full course of it!

    Wishing you happiness and health,

    Drew Madson
    College Student, Minnesota

  2. almendro Says:

    The first time I read something by Pico Iyer (it was Video Night in Kathmandu), I developed a tremendous crush on him. Maybe the fetching author photograph had something to do with that, but I like to think it was the writing. Since then, my unrequited desire has moderated into healthy admiration, but the comment you’ve pasted here helps me make sense of my earlier infatuation: it wasn’t just the place he wrote about that was so intriguing; it was the person doing the writing.

  3. Rolf Says:

    I didn’t transcribe Pico’s whole speech, Drew, but I will be posting the best outtakes here in coming weeks and months. A lot of what he shared was similar in theme to what he wrote in his book The Global Soul — which is worth reading if you haven’t already!

  4. Navneeth Says:

    Audio Download of speech: