I’m a multi-genre writer, and digital photographer, who lives and travels in different parts of the world.
I’ve been poisoning the poetry landscape since I was a teenager, adding essay and fiction throughout my undergraduate years at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English. During my time there, I was fortunate to be influenced by a couple incredible professors and writers, and received a couple writing awards.
I obtained my MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University, majoring in Nonfiction with a concentration in Travel Writing.
WHY I USE “TRAVELING MARLA” FOR MY WEBSITE
Aside from it being easy to remember, and aside from writing about this life of travel, I use the moniker because it was given to me by a woman I adore: Ida Lee* of Los Angeles. I like to pretend my other L.A. friends use it as well. They do not.
In other words, I’m MarLa. I travel. I do things, live places, meet people, ruminate and write about it.
Currently I live in South Africa.
And write about it.
WHY I’M SO “STRANGE”
I like to say I’m the punchline of a joke:
What do you get when you cross a banjo-picking, coal-mining Appalachian family with an ancestry of ruminative, classically trained educators?
In other words, I’m just another product of rural western Pennsylvania.
WHERE I TRAVEL & WHAT I WRITE
My own wanderlust began in summers with my dad in Utah and Nevada, and the southwest will always be one of my favorite regions of the United States. Whether in America or abroad, I love to capture moments in writing and photography, and share them with others.
I’ve been asked about my favorite places and experiences. I don’t know about favorites, but certainly I have some indelible memories.
Wild camping in Botswana led to a few close encounters with elephants, and a leopard. From dune bashing in the UAE’s Arabian Desert, to sleeping under the stars at Furnace Creek in Mojave’s Death Valley, drifting off to the sound of barking geckos in the Kalahari, or standing by the great dune wall of the Namib as it meets the Atlantic, each new desert memory builds on the one before.
These arthritic knees have carried me to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, to dine with monks on Marble Mountain in Việt Nam, and climbed Table Mountain in South Africa.
I can’t forget chasing twilight and donkeys into the hills of Addis Ababa, those 2a.m. searches for glowing plankton in the Maldives; or seeing my first wild pangolin.
This website is a way to connect with my readers, to give you a glimpse into the life around me as I see it, both at home and wherever I go in the world.
If you would like to follow along with my adventures, or receive updates about my latest published work or events, please enter your email address in the box near the top right of this page. I don’t spam, never share my email list, and I don’t send more than one email per day.
*Update, 2017: I was heartbroken to learn that Ida Lee passed away this year. She lived to the beautiful age of 96, and how I wish her years could have been double that. Even after her physicality started challenging her she had such a fierceness in her soul, never-ending wanderlust, and a mind eager and willing to share so much of her knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Thank you, Ida Lee, for the powerful woman you were, and the legacy you leave behind.