Travels with Susan Spano

People, Places, Stuff

Join Me at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

September 8, 2012

Tags: Travel writing, Politics and Prose, bookstore, workshop

Love Of Place
Travel Writing Appreciation And Practice

Susan Spano

Place: Politics and Prose
Dates: Three Mondays: October 15, 22 and 29, 1-3p.m.
Price: $75 ($65 members)


Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Robert Louis Stevenson
Travels with Myself and Another, Martha Gellhorn
On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal, Mary Taylor Simeti

This workshop introduces participants to the art and craft of travel writing, well known to readers of newspaper travel sections. But what draws writers to this genre? Call it love of place, an important ingredient in fiction, poetry and essays, from William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, to Bruce Chatwin’s Patagonia.
We will begin in the first session by considering the practical aspects of travel writing: suiting ideas to publications, story pitches, trip planning, journaling and note-taking, on-the-road observation, writing and rewriting. We’ll also spend time on the thorny subject of ethics: traveling anonymously and the do's and don'ts of trip financing.
To prepare for the second session participants will be asked to read three books that exemplify great travel writing: Robert Louis Stevenson’s heart-felt Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes; war correspondent Martha Gellhorn’s sharply-observed Travels with Myself and Another; and the Mary Taylor Simeti’s paean to Sicily, On Persephone’s Island. Our aim will be to notice critical factors like choice of material, authorial voice, narrative and underlying theme.
Participants will have the opportunity to submit samples of their own travel-inspired stories, fiction, memoirs or essays which the group will discuss in the workshop's third session.
Reading and writing by participants is not required, but strongly encouraged as a stimulus to discussion and an opportunity for feed-back.


Author, columnist, and traveler Susan Spano has journeyed the world reporting on culture, nature and items of human curiosity. She launched the still-running “Frugal Traveler” column for the New York Times, then joined the staff of The Los Angeles Times which sent her to the City of Light from 2003 to 2006 to start the popular travel section blog “Postcards from Paris.” She spent 6 months in Beijing studying Mandarin and researching stories in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics before moving to Rome---her favorite foreign posting---where she wrote on everything Italian, from Caravaggio to mozzarella. Her work has also appeared in the Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler and Redbook.

From the first annual SPEAK UP! contest, June 23, 2018, Muhanga, Rwanda

Syracuse Archaeological Museum, Sicily

Proshyan School bathroom with water tank

Takar and Kataro are my favorite Armenia reds

School time in Armenia.

Garni Temple, Armenia

Big Sur from Soberanes Point


Artichoke Pickers by Henriette Shore

On the way to the beach

Jalama Beach, CA

Hello, little sea urchin!

Famous Jalama Beach Burger

Three by Peter Hessler

Spring time on the Big Sur Coast


Jalama Beach, CA

Motya Charioteer. Image from

Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA

Homesick for Rome

Therme Vals in Switzerland

At Vogelsgang

National Socialist Party poster from Vogelsgang

Palm Springs

Image courtesy of Tylas at English Wikipedia

Vintage Naples Historic District

From Palm Cottage

Borobudur frieze; Buddha's life

Borobudur at sunrise

Shikellamy State Park in Pennsylvania

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Image courtesy of Politics and Prose

Image courtesy of John Wehrheim.

Lotusland in Montecito, CA

Ganna Walska of Lotusland

Image courtesy of Flickr user ViaMoi.

Conques Church. Image courtesy of Flickr user Seligr.

Weiming Lake, Peking University. Image courtesy of Flickr user ImGump.

The Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel near Santa Barbara

Agrodome, Rotorua, New Zealand. Image courtesy of Flickr user _gem_.

Vandalized images at Painted Rock

Painted Rock, Carrizo Plain National Monument

Mesa Verde National Park. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons user BenFrantzDale.

A map of Chicago, Illinois, imprinted in 1913 from the United States Geographical Survey’s historical topographic map collection. Image courtesy of the USGS.

Image courtesy of Flickr user hattiesburgmemory.

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro. Image courtesy of Flickr user alobos flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr user joiseyshowaa.

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Selected Works

Nonfiction, Travel, Human Interest
A new collection of travel essays by Susan Spano
Tracking Colette in Paris and Burgundy
A draught sinks Lake Powell, revealing lost wonders of Glen Canyon
Rome's Most Roman Neighborhood
Studying Mandarin in Beijing
Around the world and back to New York
Nonfiction Book
Divorce. Why do we do it? And what does it do to us? fourteen prominent writers have pondered these questions and have set down heir thoughts and personal stories, in this gathering of sometimes irreverent and always intelligent essays. "A disarmingly candid, invaluable collection." --Publishers Weekly
"Anyone who doubts that men, too, suffer in divorce should be required to read this." --Glamour Magazine "A rare, unusually focused anthology of original essays that both entertains and instructs." --Publishers Weekly

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