Archives for posts with tag: harry owen

 

I have been quietly perusing again the wonderful poetry in For Rhino in a Shrinking World. I think I may share one or two poems from time to time. This one stays with me this evening: it tells its painful truths with an honest delicacy.

Vexed

 

It isn’t sexy, slaughtering the rhino.

Grinding the horn will not make you hard.

Softness does that. Whisper a sweet word.

 

The rest of you pretenders, oil execs, bankers, fiddlers

Bigots, control freaks, honkies; you happiness poachers,

Liars, pretenders – will you be roused?

 

Let the moose and the salmon and the rhino run wild.

Let bombs be knitted by old ladies and growing

Boys. Gouge the clay, pat it into usefulness. Leap from Mars

 

To Inisbofin. Paint your expression purple, your wagon yellow.

Grow a kumquat. Let the rhinos be too sexy for each other.

Let us see every big-footed wrinkle. Softly. Whisper.

 

Mary Mullen

 

Every two weeks the respected South African weekly newspaper Grocott’s Mail publishes a poetry column that I write. It is called Poetic Licence. Here is the latest:

Last weekend I listened to some truly outstanding people who are making a real difference. For this they rightly received Honorary Doctorates from Rhodes University.

It’s easy to forget, when the news is filled with stories of corruption, scandal, greed and crime that the world also contains individuals of exceptional talent and integrity.

Part of this week’s ghastly news was of renewed attacks upon local rhino. Two white rhinos were found dead and mutilated for their horns at Sibuya Game Reserve and another, which had been viciously disfigured and blinded, died shortly afterwards.

Then, near the Great Fish River, two black rhinos (only 5000 of which still exist) were found slaughtered – a mother and her calf. A third was gravely injured.

This is serious. Such gratuitous horror shames us all. We are overseeing the literal destruction of our world. And too many otherwise good people shrug, utter a platitude or two and assume there’s nothing to be done.

But the lesson of those receiving awards last week is that we can do something – indeed, that we must. Whether in promoting human rights or education, advancing social justice, aiding places devastated by war and natural disasters, or helping to preserve the natural world, if we do nothing we are complicit in our own ultimate ruin.

Three years ago, following the repulsive slaughter of rhinos at Kariega Game Reserve, the anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World was published. Little enough, perhaps, but something to raise awareness and to support the heroic efforts of those on the front line of the fight to save these iconic creatures.

This poem – actually a song by American singer-songwriter David Mallett – was included. It’s about the importance of wild things everywhere and our relationship with them.

You Say That the Battle Is Over

You say that the battle is over
You say that the war is all done
Well go tell it to those with the wind in their nose
Who run from the sound of a gun.
And write it on the sides of the great whaling ships
Or on the ice flows where conscience is tossed
With the wild in their eyes
It is they who must die
And it’s we who must measure the loss.

You say that the battle is over
And finally the world is at peace
You mean no one is dying and mothers don’t weep
Or it’s not in the papers at least.
There are those who would deal in the dark side of life
There are those who would tear down the sun
And most men are ruthless but some men will weep
When the gifts we are given are gone.

Now the blame cannot fall on the heads of a few
It’s become such a part of the race
It’s eternally tragic that that which is magic
Be killed at the end of the glorious chase.
From young seals to great whales,
From waters to wood,
They will fall just like leaves in the wind.
But we’ve fur coats and perfumes and trophies on walls
What a hell of race to call men.

You say that the battle is over
You say that the war is all done
Well go tell it to those with the wind in their nose
Who run from the sound of a gun.
And write it on the sides of the great whaling ships
Or on the ice flows where conscience is tossed
With the wild in their eyes
It is they who must die
And it’s we who must measure the loss.
With the wild in their eyes
It is they who must die
And it’s we who must measure the loss.

(Music and words by David Mallet: Cherry Lane Music Pub. Co. Inc)

Thandi2

This is Thandi, the heroic rhino to whom For Rhino in a Shrinking World is dedicated. Her horn was, of course, hacked from her face by poachers.

Since then, I have had both the honour and the despair of watching a rhino darted and de-horned in order to make it less attractive to poachers. Here is my response to that experience.

I wish all rhinos long life, safety and the dignity of living as they are meant to: in the wild and free of human interference.

Chainsaw

I have always hated that sound: it means
death for something, it means devastation,
the hollow shriek of human intrusion.

Now here he is, crumpled on his haunches,
a white rhino bull, too strong, too proud, too
much himself, despite the darts, to go down.

But he’s drugged, masked, pinned: this to save his world.

And clearly he has been through the nightmare
before, though his stunted horn has re-grown.
Now the indignity repeats itself.

Our work’s against the clock, the sedative,
the history; his life depends on us.
So, plenty of cool water – and a chainsaw.

The helicopter’s pilot lounges, smoking,
in his cab as blizzards of horn shavings
surge from the blade like flakes of pale soap,

like the weeping wings of termites or ants,
like butterflies consecrating the grass
beneath the sun’s fire and the chainsaw’s hell.

This is what we’re reduced to: presiding
over the face of our world, cosmetic
surgery or death, improving nothing.

Harry Owen

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.

The annual McGregor Poetry Festival takes place in the beautiful village of McGregor in South Africa’s Western Cape. This year it will be from 27th to 30th August – a late winter treat indeed.

Harry Owen will be performing twice: on Saturday 29th August when he will read his own poetry in an event called ‘Searching – With Dogs!’ and then on Sunday 30th when the focus will be on ‘For Rhino in a Shrinking World’.

Harry will talk about how the international rhino anthology came about and what effect it is having in the battle against rhino poaching. And he will, of course, be reading a selection of the superb poems in the book.

Please come along if you can.

http://mcgregorpoetryfestival.blogspot.com/p/2015-edition.html

Success!  

I am absolutely delighted to announce that we have today – World Book Day – received the first consignment of the international anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World from the publisher, The Poets Printery.  It has been a long and sometimes frustrating wait but I hope you will feel when you see the finished product that it has been worth it.

World Book Day, 23rd April 2013 - the perfect day for the rhino anthology to be born!

World Book Day, 23rd April 2013 – the perfect day for the rhino anthology to be born!

Within the next few days we will begin the process of sending a complimentary copy to each contributor and will also be organising a series of launches, beginning in Grahamstown, South Africa, and spreading to other cities and venues.  So please keep watching this space.

In addition, full information on how to order copies of the book will appear here (and elsewhere!) in due course.

Thank you very much for your patience and support so far: the hard work of spreading the word now begins in earnest.

I have now seen the draft (sample) copy of the anthology and am impressed. Keep an eye on this space during the next few days – there should be good news to report by the end of next week.

I think I owe you all an explanation for the unfortunate delay we have experienced in releasing For Rhino in a Shrinking World.

The anthology was sent by the publisher to the printer some time ago and we expected the book to be available shortly after this. Unfortunately, it then became evident that the shape and design of the book’s cover and spine could not accommodate some of the features we wanted. For example, the font size of the poems inside became much smaller than was acceptable to me if we persisted with the original dimensions. This had to be corrected.

So the book was returned to the designer and we have now made it rectangular (26 x 21cm) rather than square. This has resolved the problem with the font size and we hope that everything is now as it should be. The book has been re-submitted to the printer and I am expecting to have a sample copy in my hands within the next few days.

I can’t tell you how frustrating this has been for all of us, but I am determined that the book will be as beautiful and as fine as it is possible to make it: the delay is annoying but necessary to ensure its quality.

As soon as I have seen and checked the sample copy I shall post here again to let you know where we stand – and I truly hope it will be to say that we’re there!

Thank you once again for your patience and support.

It is now almost a year since I listened and watched as Dr William Fowlds gave his harrowing presentation at Rhodes University about the horrors of rhino poaching. I felt utterly helpless then to contribute anything. But it is also nearly a year since I had the idea of asking poets around the world if they would be prepared to contribute to an anthology in support of the rhino and the natural world of which it is such an iconic  part.

It’s been a long haul but an inspiring one for me: the response has been absolutely stupendous, and now we are within touching distance of publication. The book should, according to the publisher, be ready this month – February.

I know that you are all, like me, waiting to see it, and I thank you for your patience (although, in the great scheme of things, publishing such a wonderful book from scratch in twelve months is no mean achievement).

I hope that the next post here will be to announce that our anthology has been published, so please keep looking!

And thank you again.

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.