circa 15th C

About Farsickness

FARSICKNESS is a rough translation of the German word, fernweh. It means the opposite of homesickness (heimweh) — a yearning for distant places.

Farsickness is a sensation that so often inspires writing, reading, and travel — three of my greatest passions, especially when they are wound together. It is the thread that connects the pieces here.

It’s also a word that inspired a poem I wrote for my book, Mapmaking, and which you can read here on Verse Daily.

As for how I first ran across fernweh: Some years back, on a travel writing assignment to the Sahara Desert to explore oases towns, I was told there is an Arabic word used by desert nomads for the exact experience of farsickness. Alas, after much searching, I could find no such word in Arabic. But after hunting around a little more, I discovered that — naturally — German has a word for it.


About Farsickness Journal

Farsickness Journal explores place and creative writing, with pieces grouped like this:

On Place

  • Placemakers: Narrative on places and the people who make them.
  • Postcard Memoir: Brief memoir on a vivid time and place, with photos.
  • Writing In…: How writing in a different part of the world can inspire creativity.


On Writing

  • Place Poems: Excerpts from, thoughts on, and links to extraordinary poems about place.
  • Place in Story: Fiction and creative nonfiction books that are centered on setting.
  • Book Reviews: Reviews of books in which place plays a central role.


Four Questions on Farsickness is an interview series with creative writers for whom place is essential to their work.

Farsickness Journal has been featured on the news site, Berkeleyside, and in Among Worlds Magazine.


As for me…



in Saudi Arabia, circa 1979


I grew up on four continents; my family moved, on average, once a year. Now I’m a writer who works in multiple genres, and have since I completed a dual master’s thesis in fiction and poetry at New York University’s Creative Writing Program. My creative nonfiction and poems appear in AGNI, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Arts & Letters, and The Common, among other journals; my book of poems, Mapmaking (BkMk Press/New Letters), won the John Ciardi Prize; and my work as a freelance journalist, travel writer, and book reviewer has appeared in publications that include The New York Times. For more, please visit my website, meganharlan.com.



in California, circa today


Email: megan (at) farsickness (dot) (com).