‘A Poet’s Progress: Newtopia Magazine’

Okavengo Delta, Zambiafrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #11

November 28, 2010: Wilderness Camp, Okavengo Delta, Zambia Tonight, Julius—a guide so experienced that he is mentioned in one of the books I read to prepare for this trip—was walking me back to my cabin with a flashlight after dinner. I was making small talk, embarrassed to have to be walked to my room—certainly it… Continue Reading »

James Explains the Marriage Customs of the Shona in Zimbabwefrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #12

After I told the story of the marriage customs in the United States of America, James, a Shona from Zimbabwe, told us the marriage customs of the Shona. For the Shona, there are three ways for a man and woman to become engaged. The most common is when a poor family is nearly wiped out,… Continue Reading »

A Native Tells His Country’s History Post-Mugabefrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #13

There is a sanctuary in Zimbabwe where orphaned animals who would die in the wild are protected. Up until the age of 2.5 to 3, a lion is not a threat to humans. The lions are trained with wooden sticks, like the one you can see me holding in the photo above. I asked a… Continue Reading »

Into the Okavango Delta, Zambiafrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #14

December 1, 2010: Lufupa Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe John Dee Explains the Okavango Delta The Okavango Delta is the largest interior wetland in the world—a natural basin into which three rivers empty. At some point in prehistory the tectonic plates shifted and there was an uprooting of the land so that the three rivers… Continue Reading »

Among the Ngamo, Zimbabwefrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #15

What Are You Looking At? When James was training to be a guide, he was assigned to an ex-Army drill sergeant named Tomas. One of James’ jobs was to go to the kitchen in the morning and prepare a cup of tea for Tomas, and then go up to his tent and wake him up…. Continue Reading »

Apprenticing with Allen Ginsberg: The Object Is to See Clearlyfrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #16

Introduction On its first anniversary, it seems a good time to revisit and expand on the central premise of this series. As I mentioned at this column’s beginning, the central conceit of “A Poet’s Progress” is to test an idea presented in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (published in 1678) that the events of our lives… Continue Reading »

The Story of Dr. David Livingstonefrom “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #17

Dr. David Livingstone December 8, 2010, Illala Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe When Kerra, a native Zimbabwean, heard that some Americans were staying overnight in Victoria Falls, he asked if he could talk to us about his hero, the Great Liberator of Africa. I copied down as much of the story as I could, but Kerra… Continue Reading »

Final Entry from Africa, December 6, 2010 from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #18

December 6, 2010, Illala Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Woke up this morning to the sound of animals screaming. I assumed it was the baboons, so I didn’t bother to investigate. But on my walk in to the dining hall, I saw in the near distance a wild dog, trotting in the same direction as I… Continue Reading »

I Find My Beatrice Outside the Red Fort, Old Delhi, India from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #19

April 16, 2011: Old Delhi, India, The Red Fort Today in front of the Red Fort, a young girl tried to sell me some postcards I didn’t want. I told her that I didn’t have any rupees on me (which was true) and she said I could have them for one American dollar. I smiled… Continue Reading »

In the Gem Store, Jaipur, India from “A Poet’s Progress,” Newtopia Magazine #20

In the Gem Store, Jaipur, April 7, 2011 After driving for eight hours through the desperately poor areas from Delhi to Jaipur, Bill is obviously shaken. “That was really something,” he says, as we get off the bus. And I, stretching my legs, agree. “Yeah, that was a long time on a bus.” 23 02… Continue Reading »