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A Poet’s Progress: Into the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta from the Air Our Landing Strip in Botswana 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: A Native Shona Tells His Country’s History Since Mugabe

The Author Gives Lisa a Massage First, a Note about the Photos 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: James Explains the Marriage Customs of the Shona in Zimbabwe

Happiness 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: Okavengo Delta, Zambia

Okavengo Delta, Zambia 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: “Leopard!”

“Hyena!” November 26, 2010: This morning we were driving across the savannah when Robert, our guide, stopped the Land Rover and pointed to the left, slightly behind us. “Hyena,” he whispered. We hadn’t seen a hyena yet. We all turned to the left and got out our binoculars and searched the fields. “Where?” we whispered … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: On Safari, Southern Africa

Baboon Mother and Child, Zambia, Africa, November 2010 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: Evening in Erfoud

Oasis, on the Road to Ouarzazate 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 … Continue reading

A Poet’s Progress: Entering the Desert

Tree, Fes 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 … Continue reading

Poet’s Progress: Flying to Casablanca

Aqueducts, Meknas, Morocco 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. … Continue reading