Forget Passports – Moving Beyond Borders and Countries

As recently as 2013, when discussing with an Austrian in Denmark the concept of borders, I realised why passports are preposterous (1.). I don’t just mean the red or blue variety, from an anti or pro Brexit mentality. I mean any passport. Historically, it is impossible for “us” to not be part of Europe, as Dan Snow makes clear (2.). Imagine there’s no countries, sang Lennon, it isn’t hard to do. Actually, John, it is really hard to do, if the media are continually telling you “your” country is under threat from foreigners, with the government promoting an immigration crisis in an attempt to get you to support its Brexit stance. Nationalism is fashionable today, compared to universalism. If you find Lennon’s song difficult to swallow, blame Yoko…again. Shortly before his death, Lennon confirmed many of the lyrics of Imagine came from Yoko and she received a co-writing credit. When we co-authored Lost Passports 15 years ago I hadn’t yet imagined a no passport world (3.). The title of the poetry collection referred to each poem being like a lost passport that you rediscover, enabling you to travel metaphysically and metaphorically. Peter Lewin and I never declared which of the poems we had individually written; perhaps we collectively wrote each one. Poets function like radars, picking up frequencies. To say you actually own words is in many ways just as preposterous as saying a country is yours, can be “owned”. You don’t own your passport, of course. But how far does a sense of nationhood, an ideology, own you?

1.

2013 Conference, Aalborg, Denmark

2.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/01/brexit-britain-liaison-europe-history

3.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Passports-Transference-Jason-Lee/dp/1905237448

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