Writing Morocco

 
   
“In 1931, without any preconceived notion of what I should find there, I paid a visit to Morocco. Two months, I thought, would suffice for seeing the place. And so they would have if what I saw had not awakened a wish to see more, a wish which seemed to grow even as it was being satisfied. At first it expressed itself as a desire to wander over the surface of the land … After the War I returned to Morocco and bought a home there. This time I became aware of the fact that it was not the landscape I wanted to know, but the people.”
   
– Paul Bowles
   
Read more about Paul Bowles.
    
  
   
 
   

“The … endless banquet at which course succeeded course – spiced chickens and pigeons, kous-kous, and whole roast sheep and kebab and almond pastries and sweet mint tea … lasted all through the night. Swaying lines of women danced to the music of their own wild chant; the traditional boy dancers with painted faces and white robes drawn tight at the waist by gold-embroidered bells, danced to the tambourines and the clicking of the copper castanets on their fingers; in the courtyard a huge fire of juniper logs lit the battlements of the castle; outside the Kasbah wall … the night was loud with feasting.”
   
– Gavin Maxwell, Lords of the Atlas
  
 
 
 
“With the afternoon heat too suffocating in the square, the light too bright for any but a Marrachi’s eyes, I slipped into the labyrinth of the medina. Cool vaulted stone, courtyards latticed with bamboo staves, casting zebra stripes across the merchants and their stalls. What an emporium – mountains of tumeric, paprika, salted almonds and dates, yellow leather slippers laid out in rows, ostrich eggs and incense, chameleons in wire cages, and beef tenderloins nestled on fragrant beds of mint.”
  
from Tahir Shah’s introduction to Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes
   
Visit Tahir Shah’s website.
   
 
   
 
 
 
“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”
  
– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales
(Editors’ Choice)
 
Visit Travelers’ Tales website.
  
 
  

  
  
“Inside, the ceiling is low, cobwebbed, and the shelves beneath it cluttered with treasure. There are ancient Berber chests, silver teapots, ebony footstools, and swords once used by warring tribes, and cartons of postcards left by the French, Box Brownie cameras, candlesticks, silk wedding belts, and camel headdresses crafted from indigo wool.”
  
from Tahir Shah’s introduction to Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes
  
 
  
 
 
 
“Crisply geometric patterns of blue-and-white zellij, sun-bleached panels of carved cedar, rhythmic arcades of white plaster, sinuous lines of wrought-iron balconies: each reveals the hand of a master craftsperson and the beauty of refined materials.”
  
– Susan Sully, New Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living

 
 
“I stand in a portico hung with gentian-blue ipomeas … and look out on a land of mists and mysteries; a land of trailing silver veils through which domes and minarets, mighty towers and ramparts of flushed stone, hot palm groves and Atlas snows, peer and disappear at the will of the Atlantic cloud drifts.”
  
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco
  
Read more about Edith Wharton.
   
 
  

  

“From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin in the night …”
  
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco
  
 
  

  
  
“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”
  
– Edith Wharton, 1927
   
 
  
 
  

“The sight of books removes sorrow from the heart.”
  
– Moroccan proverb
   
   
Some reading suggestions
 
The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles
Let it Come Down, Paul Bowles
The Spider’s House, Paul Bowles
A House in Fez, Suzanna Clarke
Hideous Kinky, Ester Freud
Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua,
Gavin Maxwell
Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes, edited by Barnaby Rogers
and Rose Baring
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, Tahir Shah
In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams,
Tahir Shah
New Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living, by Susan Sully,
Jean Cazals and Meryanne Louw-Martin
Valley of the Casbahs: A Journey Across the Moroccan Sahara,
Jeffrey Tayler
Morocco: In the Labyrinth of Dreams and Bazaars, Walter M Weiss
In Morocco, Edith Wharton
 
 
Read the work of some Moroccan poets.
   
Links to Moroccan poetry organisations and websites.

9 thoughts on “Writing Morocco

  1. Barbara S

    Wow, I saw Paul Bowles and did a double-take: I have a book upstairs by Miles Lowry, a book of poems called Blood Orange, on the subject of Paul Bowles.

    Enough with the Morrocco theme – there I was last week on the verge of planning a trip, and then I remembered: sure I have six kids, where would I be going to Morrocco any time soon…? I do love the blue you see in pictures from the place. I would write a book there, and call it Morroccan Blue…

  2. Annie

    Hi Michelle, thanks for this wonderful post. I was only in Morocco for 10 days and it affected me a great deal, really got under my skin and I have a real desire to go back there, sigh, this makes me so thirsty to be there.. xx

  3. Michelle Post author

    It sounds as if we need to organise a writers’ retreat in Fes or Marrakesh.

  4. Julie

    Oh, what beautiful colors! I love the craftsmanship, too. All of that beauty created by human hands. Awesome.

    I also love your reading suggestions and links! I am familiar with Paul Bowles and Edith Wharton and will now spend time looking up the people I haven’t read before. What fantastic writing. The link to Moroccan poets has kept me thrilled for the past hour. Touria Majdouline is an excellent poet. Thank you for the introduction to her work, as well as all of the others.

  5. odessa

    stunning! you have now rekindled my wanderlust🙂

    my aunt and my cousin lived in Marrakesh for a year and i deeply regret not visiting them while they were there. i think a writer’s retreat sounds like an excellent idea!

  6. Francisca

    stunning and most beautiful!!!!
    I went Maroc this Agust fell in love with it.
    Most amazing country!!!

  7. roudribbers

    Wonderful… We’re heading for Morocco in a few weeks and this just got me more and more inspired. Definitely have to explore more of these writers.

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