Saturday, August 5, 2017



A Poetry of Elephants compiled by Rebecca Gethin
(ValMor, Great Britain, 2016)

Linking poetry with advocacy seems logical: both endeavors require caring—proactively caring. Two of my recent projects in this vein are the chap MARAWI (co-authored with Albert Alejo) and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets. The former fundraises for relief organizations aiding citizens of terrorist-besieged Marawi and the latter fundraises for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan (known as “Typhoon Yolanda” in the Philippines). Blatantly, I cite these projects as their fundraisers are still ongoing—click on their links for more details. But enough about me (my projects), except to say that I thus was delighted to see the fundraising anthology A Poetry of Elephants compiled by Rebecca Gethin. Published by ValMor (a shortened reference to another caring poet, Valerie Morton), the book fundraises to aid The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Their “life-saving work” is described through their postcard:

 (click on image to enlarge)

“…an elephant being killed every 15 minutes for its ivory”—disgraceful.

In these fundraising poetry projects, the challenge is to write good poetry while also making the reader care about the cause for which such poetry (and their poets) advocate. By such a standard, A Poetry of Elephants attains its goal—many of the poems share something about the plight of elephants who are under attack for the ivory that may be harvested from their bodies. Here’s an example:

Their landscape of skin will gather
            Around her bones to mourn.
The dead elephant’s eye—lost in folds
            Of time—looks man in the face

            But man is blind.
—from “The Dying Elephant” by Karen Dennison

I also much appreciated Jenny Hamlett’s “In Memory,” Alison Lock’s “The Trunk,” and Karen Jane Cannon’s “Trinket” for the nuanced, evocative stories they share:

Other poems are effective for offering interesting twists to their narratives—EE Nobbs’ “Convergent Evolution” and Simon Williams’ “In the Poem.” Here’s the latter:

Of course there is anger: Shirley Wright notes in “Nellie has packed her trunk” about humans “with little hearts and digital cameras,” “so busy… / with poaching, burning and overall destruction”:

Our world-view lacks the necessary pixels
for grace. We are circus clowns

The anthology benefits from the diverse approaches to its topic: Rebecca Gethin even recalls, per her title, “Elephants in Rome: 275 AD,” and, of course, the Indian elephant god must rear its head in Penelope Shuttle’s “Ganesha x 2.”

I also note David Cooke’s “Dambulla” whose ending two lines offer my favorite imagery in the anthology:

All in all, A Poetry of Elephants is a wonderful read—an enjoyment that hopefully leads the reader to support the book’s cause.  You can find more information, including donation support, at


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea ResurrectsHer 2017 poetry releases to date include two books, two booklets and six poetry chaps. Forthcoming this fall are two new poetry collections, MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (Paloma Press) and Love in a Time of Belligerence (Editions du Cygne/SWAN World). Her books have been released in nine countries and cyberspace. More info about her work at

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