‘A Poet’s Progress: Newtopia Magazine’

Flying to Casablanca, from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #1

Preface On March 15, 2007, I made a vow to spend the next ten years studying anything that caught my interest, doing everything I wanted to do, reading everything I wanted to read, seeing everything I wanted to see, traveling everywhere I wanted to travel, and writing my way through the process. I’d talked a… Continue Reading »

The Law of Unexpected Consequences, Exhibit B, for “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #2

The Law of Unexpected Consequences, Exhibit B King Mohammed VI had a problem. Most rural and nomad women were illiterate, they were restricted to the home, and they were often pledged to arranged marriages even before they “became a woman.” They would be auctioned off, sometimes not meeting their husbands–often decades older—until the wedding. These… Continue Reading »

Arriving in Casablanca, A Poet’s Progress, Newtopia Magazine #3

Three months after I got back from Morocco, the riots in Tunisia began and within days, it seemed, the government fell. Friends who knew I had recently been in northwestern Africa wondered if Morocco would be next. “No,” I said. “The Moroccans love their king.” And then I would give them a list of reasons… Continue Reading »

The Law of Unexpected Consequences, Example A from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #4

The current king of Morocco—Mohammed VI—has a problem. He has one million nomads (mostly Berbers, down from nine million only a decade ago) who are completely dependent on having enough water and feed to keep their flocks alive year-round. With a drought—like the one Morocco experienced for six years in the early part of this… Continue Reading »

On the Road through the Rif Mountains, Morocco from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #5

While going in search of the wild Barberry apes in the Rif Mountains Ibrahim has some advice for us: “Never trust a monkey.” The slave trade began in Africa in the 16th century, with members of one tribe selling its conquered enemies. One horse equaled ten slaves and one slave equaled two camels. In the… Continue Reading »

Entering the Desert, Outside Fes, Morocco, from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #6

In the afternoon I rest under the branches of a giant tamarisk tree, searching the sky like the locals for signs of rain, chewing on a blade of bamboo. I am silent for a long time as the afternoon slouches by. The valley soaked with rain looks unhappy. Ibrahim says “In Morocco it is always… Continue Reading »

Evening in Erfoud, Morocco, from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #7

Dust storms have eaten away the faces on the reliefs carved in the courtyard’s walls. The desert is blue with ghosts. Mica shines for an instant like glass, then the desert buries it again. This must be what the seabottom looks like a thousand fathoms deep, yellow sand shimmering and swirling in the currents for… Continue Reading »

Ourika Valley, Morocco, for “A Poet’s Progress” Newtopia Magazine #8

Ourika Valley, Morocco September 20, 2010: Ourika Valley, Morocco It’s our last day in Marrakech, and we drive out to visit a Berber house in the Ourika Valley of the Atlas Mountains. As we’re leaving the farmhouse, I see a mirror in a shop that I want. I’ve been looking at these Moroccan mirrors ever… Continue Reading »

Going on Safari, Southern Africa from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #9

November 20, 2010: Johannesburg, South Africa It’s been a long trip. With a 13-hour layover in Heathrow (luckily four of them in an airport hotel bed courtesy of the travel agency), I’ve been traveling for close to 38 hours. The only reason I’m still vertical is because I’m waiting for my bag. I said I’d… Continue Reading »

Disembarkation, Chobe River, Botswanafrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #10

November 24, 2010: Baobob Camp, Chobe, Botswana Camouflaged Bird’s Eggs, Chobe River, Botswana Evening Today out on the river we came across a lily pad with four camouflaged bird’s eggs in it. Mat explained that the eggs in this species are nurtured by the male and that the one who built this nest has probably… Continue Reading »