Bwindi #SOLC18 #PoetryFriday

A Slice of Life/Poetry Friday mashup for today!

On Wednesday, February 21 it was my turn to provide a piece of artwork for Laura Shovan’s Annual February Daily Poetry Project. (To learn more, click here.) While several pieces were in the running, I decided to go with something unique — a charcoal carving of a mother gorilla with her baby clinging to her back. This is a treasured souvenir from my Ugandan adventure in 2010. I traveled with a group of educators to “the Pearl of Africa” to work with a collaborative of schools surrounding the Kibale Forest, known for it’s population of chimpanzees. During the week prior to our arrival in the district, my colleagues and I explored a bit, including a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park and a morning of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Taking approximately 4 hours from start to finish, this was the most physically demanding and mentally challenging hike I have ever attempted. While absolutely terrified at the time, the 60 minutes we were allowed in the presence of these amazing creatures was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Outside the park there are many villagers who make their living selling hand-crafted souvenirs to tourists. In some cases, they sell wares made from found or scavenged materials — beads rolled from recycled paper, bowls carved from wood, baskets woven from straw.  I originally set out to tell the story of the creation of the gorilla mother and child, but it evolved into a story of existence and survival.

Bwindi Craftsman

On a lark I Googled “Bwindi + poetry” out of curiosity. Here’s what I found. A lovely poem by Philip Wells published on Poetry Magazines in the UK in 1999.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi.     Bwindi.

It means “the place of darkness”.
An impenetrable forest of night,
The black hole at the core
Of the heart of darkness.
Bwindi.     Bwindi.

Sun turns on the white mist
In the forest mountain dawn.
Silent walkers stride purposefully
Along a rare path –
Path of a thousand machetes,
A path with a heart, to the heart –
To the eyes of the silverback
And the simple secret of ourselves.

Moss has settled on the dangling
Parabola of a vine –
Green settles down with green.
The world is a root and a trunk
And we listen to the sap beating
To the rhythm of the morning. (read the rest here.)


And yet another

Uganda by Nadia Glasner

When in Uganda
you must stop to see
monkey’s living within the trees.

Treking through the Bwindi Forest
Look high and low
Keeping your eye’s and ear’s open
for you never know
what lies within the forest. (You may read the rest here.)


This post is part of the annual month-long Slice of Life writing challenge organized by Two Writing Teachers. Join us! It’s my second year of Slicing in the challenge. (If you want to take a peek at the Padlet of writing ideas I’ve created, I’m happy to share. Click here! It grows every day.) And it’s Poetry Friday, too. Woo hoo! The amazing Renee LaTulippe is hosting over at No Water River. I hope you’ll stop by there as well.



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17 thoughts on “Bwindi #SOLC18 #PoetryFriday

  1. Incredible poems and incredible experience! Love these lines, “A path with a heart, to the heart –
    To the eyes of the silverback…And the simple secret of ourselves.” Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much to think about here…I just love all the poems. “We listen to the sap beating to the rhythm of the morning.” I will definitely return later today to read and reread again. It makes me think that a safari to photograph and write about African animals in their raw, majestic settings might be in my future! Thank you!


  3. Love the introduction/back story to the poems. Such powerful descriptions.
    “Sun turns on the white mist
    In the forest mountain dawn.
    Silent walkers stride”
    Love the verb choice!
    Thanks for sharing!


  4. What a memorable experience! Thanks for sharing it with us, and these poems, which all paint such a striking picture.
    “Path of a thousand machetes,
    A path with a heart, to the heart –
    To the eyes of the silverback
    And the simple secret of ourselves.”


  5. Wow, what an experience, and what a treasure this poem (and carving) is! Thank you so much for sharing. I do hope you will join us for our Progressive Poem in April… sign up at my blog! xo


  6. Christie, I am so glad that I heard the backstory of your trip to Uganda. This line is lovely: A path with a heart, to the heart –. I am also glad that I had a second look at your poem that calls up such wonderful memories. I hope you are not in the direct line of the nor’easter. It is walloping Long Island.


  7. Your gorilla mother and baby are such a treasure, Christie! I’ve been working on my own poem, but haven’t finished it yet, so I didn’t read these. I’ll be back to savor your words as soon as I’m done with mine.


  8. I loved your poem when I first read it, Christie, focusing on the life of the carver herself, and love hearing more of your experience. Wow! The additional poems helps us all go deeper into that place, are also wonderful. Thanks!


  9. Wow, what an adventure you had, gorilla trekking! Love your poem and the interesting details it revealed about the makers of treasured souvenirs like yours.


  10. What an incredible experience! Thank you for sharing more about it. I enjoyed writing in response to the charcoal carving you shared–and it gave me the opportunity to learn more about Bwindi! I’m trying to talk my husband into going. I loved all the poems shared in the poetry challenge, and the two more you shared are just perfect, too.


  11. Thank you for sharing all 3 of these, Christie. Each poem is so very different. And I’m glad you posted your poem, as it was one of many I’d not read on the FB page, although I recall seeing the sculpture and wished I’d been able to write something for it!


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