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The Edna Fourie Gallery was the delightful venue for a special presentation of For Rhino in a Shrinking World at the McGregor Poetry Festival in South Africa’s Western Cape on Sunday 30th August 2015.

Six South African contributors to the anthology introduced and read their wonderful poems to a rapt and fascinated audience.

Norman Morrissey: ‘Lord of Life’

Silke Heiss: ‘Awaking’

Geoffrey Haresnape: ‘Praise Song’

Kerry Hammerton: ‘The Last Humiliation’

Ian McCallum: ‘The Elephant Tree’

Harry Owen: ‘Eyona Indala’

The event concluded, fittingly and movingly, with a recording of John Denver singing ‘You Say That The Battle Is Over’ by David Mallett.

All of these pieces and many, many more, along with the magnificent artwork of Sally Scott, were freely contributed so that every cent raised from sales of the anthology can go to the Chipembere Rhino Foundation to support their tremendous work on behalf of these glorious creatures.

Christmas, it seems to me, is a time for reflection, acknowledgement and gratitude.  So I would like to offer my warmest thanks here to the innumerable people who have, in one way or another, made publication of For Rhino in a Shrinking World possible.  The following is extracted from my Introduction to the anthology:

Almost at once the poems started to arrive – literally hundreds and hundreds of them. People all over the world, some very young or inexperienced as writers, others well known and widely published, clearly were deeply touched by the plight of the rhinos and as sickened and horrified as I had been by Will Fowlds’ eyewitness account, film of which was also made widely available on the Internet.

By the deadline date it had become clear to me that compiling and editing an anthology from so many generous pieces of writing would be a gargantuan task. Many submissions could not, by sheer weight of numbers as much as anything else, find their way into the book – but I wish to put on record my sincere gratitude to all those who wrote and submitted work supporting the rhinos’ cause. Without them this book would not have been possible.

I wish all who have supported us and all who will continue in the coming days to help the rhino and the natural world a truly Happy Christmas and the most uplifting of all New Years.

Thank you all!

It is indeed an honour to relate that the legendary conservationist Ian Player, who set up Operation Rhino to save the White Rhino from extinction many years ago, and Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation, have also written a short Foreword for the anthology. Here it is:

“What we need in the world today is to hear within us

the sounds of the earth crying” (Taken from a Zen Poem)

 Man’s connection with the earth is a mystifying confusion of physical, chemical and spiritual beauty. The depth and complexity of nature’s secrets has scarcely begun to be understood by the overwhelming tide of human beings. To be able to appreciate and take care of the abundance of life on our planet has always been a challenge.

Life has always been a mystery that many of us scarcely take the time to consider. The poets bring glimpses of  a reality beyond our known senses and the beauty of their words linger for centuries, be it Virgil, Wordsworth or Rupert Brooke. As we fail to understand the depth of the natural world, we place ourselves at risk.

The poets who have contributed to this book forcibly bring to mind the terrible plight of the rhino in the modern world. We applaud their efforts.

Rhino have a particularly plaintive cry, which once heard is never forgotten. The screams of agony from rhino that have had their horns chopped off while still alive should reach out into the hearts of all of us. We believe that it is only through a GLOBAL campaign and POLITICAL will that we can save this remnant of the dinosaur age – the rhino.

The heritage of a species, the rhino, and the environment we share with it, symbolises so much of what the Wilderness Foundation is driven to take care of. It is our hope that what lies within this anthology will reveal enough to inspire everyone to respond to the “sounds of the earth crying”

Ian Player and Andrew Muir

Wilderness Foundation

Will Fowlds’ passion for helping the rhino was the original inspiration for this book. Here is his Foreword to the anthology:

The deepening crisis faced by our rhino threatens to overwhelm us as we are assaulted daily by rotting images of animals mutilated at the hands of greedy man. The gruesome account of just two of the victims of poaching has reached into the hearts of these writers and resonates back on us from across the world. A challenge for us all to react. Our simple personal responses as caring custodians in the face of such a daunting reality is all that stands between life and extinction.

Who will join this global collection of humane reactions? Will there be enough to express our value for the natural world?  Are we able to focus fear, anger and bitter sadness into those simple abilities we have been blessed with and create the change on which we all depend?  I trust the power of the written word gathered within this wonderful collection, inspired by Harry Owen as an expression of his own journey, is enough to change our hearts and ignite us into action.

I am delighted and honoured to announce that the internationally celebrated painter and fibre artist, Sally Scott, has agreed to contribute some of her wonderful work to illustrate For Rhino in a Shrinking World.  She is currently completing a series of drawings – in charcoal and in ink – of African rhino specifically for this book.  And they are superb!

Many thanks to Sally and to all those people who have so generously donated their talents, their energies and (lest we forget its importance) their money to the crucial cause of supporting the rhino and the wild ecosystems upon which they depend for survival.

You can find much more about Sally Scott and her work at:  www.sallyscott.co.za

The work of 108 poets from around the globe will be represented in For Rhino in a Shrinking World. Making the selection has been a truly difficult process and I have had to omit some excellent poems (and poets!) because they do not quite match the criteria for inclusion, or because a theme had already been covered in other poems (Durer’s famous rhino woodcut was very popular, for example), or for any number of other reasons. But I sincerely thank everyone who submitted their work and hope you will continue to support the fight against the horror of rhino poaching.

Here is the list of the 108 poets.

These poets represent 15 different countries from around the world:  Australia, Botswana, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, India, Luxembourg, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Zimbabwe.