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Transom:
Elizabeth Bishop famously asks, “Is it lack of imagination that makes us come / to imagined places, not just stay at home?” Is your “Dime-store Travelogue” conceding the point, and embracing the imagination as the preferred means of transit?

MacKenzie:
As someone who lived abroad for five years before (just now) returning to the US, I think part of my impetus for leaving in the first place was as Bishop suspects not so much a pure lack of imagination, but an indulgence of its biases. That is, I have chronically imagined that what is elsewhere is categorically different than what is nearby; the imaginary differential between here and there (or these and those people) becomes magnetized in favor of the latter, and off I go. In the long term, though, as I think Bishop also experienced, travel became a backdoor to the source of my own projections, but from a slightly different angle. So, this poem is set at that point of the devaluation of the travelogue as a form of discovery, because what the traveler has discovered is that for her it actually serves as a Romantic and somewhat imitative facade allowing her to hide/dodge her own inner uncertainties. Which is to say: for me at least “the imagination” needed some outside schooling in order to become a decent transit system.

Transom:
What is “the stronger thing,” and what is the danger of imagining it?

MacKenzie:
The stronger thing is the fact of being alive—as caught against the “naught,” non-existence, terminal mortality, that life’s the flip side of. Against all temporizing hypotheticals spun by “if,” this non-negotiable zero is normally ignorable; but past a certain proximity to death—yours or another’s—your imagination can’t help but bend to meet this bifurcated fact: non-/existence. It’s not dangerous, just usually (unless you have a strong Memento Mori practice, or are Marina Abramovic) unwelcome.