Archives for posts with tag: poetry

Rhinos are certainly not the only African animals whose very existence is threatened by poaching and unregulated hunting. African elephants continue to be slaughtered for their ivory, much of which is in commercial demand abroad.

Here, in another fine poem from the rhino anthology, UK poet Alison Lock reminds us of our own responsibility to help preserve these fabulous creatures. ‘Don’t buy ivory!’ is the powerful and essential message.

The Trunk

She gave me a string

of rosebuds, cream,

scented with almonds

 

inherited from an uncle

who’d stalked

the plains of Africa.

 

Too heavy

for my sapling neck

they adorned my doll

 

Angelina, and when

the threading

cord had broken

 

I placed them in a trunk

where they lay

for years until the day

 

when a man on the TV

pointed to a carcass

captured, de-tusked

 

discarded by poachers.

Tipping over the trunk

I let the ivory beads run free.

Alison Lock

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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

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 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.

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!

This evening (Tuesday 11 December) I held a telephone conversation with Dr Amitabh Mitra, publisher of the rhino anthology, and we agreed that the book is progressing nicely and looking very good indeed. It is now in the final stages before publication and is awaiting its signing-off after concluding a thorough proof reading and re-checking. Next step is the printer.

Unfortunately, since the Christmas period in South Africa is when the whole country goes on its summer vacation (and this begins for most people – including those in the printing industry – at the end of this week), it is now most unlikely that For Rhino in a Shrinking World will be available by Christmas as I had hoped and planned.

I regret this profoundly and can only apologise to those of you who had hoped to give the book as a Christmas gift. I really am as  disappointed as anyone, but we have done our best and not quite made it on time.

On the other hand, the book should certainly be ready early in the New Year and I am looking forward very much to its launch then. To be honest, I could not in all conscience have forced the pace and risked the finished product being less than excellent. I do hope you will understand.

As soon as I have any more information I will post it here, so please keep checking in.

On behalf of both myself and our grievously persecuted rhino, I do thank you for your continued support and wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons.

Wisdom of the Elephants

 

There’s more to our bones

than curved hunting ivory.

At two years old we lose

our first four teeth,

then gain five more spade sets,

each set stronger and more elaborate.

 

On the savannah we grind rough bark,

roots, leaves and young grass.

Each year a brick-sized molar

retires, and a new one

fills in from the back.

But when the last gives,

 

That’s it. We’ll turn,

follow the wisdom of the wind –

with the strange thoughts

solitary dreamers may have –

and remember, with fondness:

 

each river, each plain,

each star, before reaching

down to the brown water’s edge

with a silent, almost

moist-eyed reckoning.

 

Jennifer Wong

At last I am able to announce that we have received all 110 biographical notes for contributors. This, combined with a total of 130 poems organised into seven sections – currently named ‘Meetings’, ‘Nature Speaks’, ‘Durer, Myth & Medicine’, ‘Extinction’, ‘Outrage’, ‘Connections’ and ‘Hope’ – means that we also have a draft Contents page, allowing for the planning of the book’s eventual shape and content. There is still much editing, designing and checking to do, of course, but things are beginning to move forward.

Watch this space!