Wild Earth Thrives Where Elephants Roam | By Leslie Bulion
Long ago—long before Connie invited me to The Elephant Map Project—I was a young girl dreaming of elephants. I formed them with my hands, over and over, in clay.
Much later I visited East Africa, experiencing the majesty of the ecosystems where elephants live wild.
When I write science and nature poems, I hope to access several intertwined aspects of the poem’s subject, both intellectually and emotionally. I read widely, assimilating information and different perspectives. To deepen my connection on many levels I do my best to incorporate experiential learning in the process. This can take the form of hands-on coursework, travel, or some combination of the two. I immerse myself in the subject’s habitat, appreciating it on a sensory level: how does the animal move? What sounds do I hear? How does the air in its environment feel and smell? How do others, both people and wildlife in this experience react?
Then I return to my desk and listen for the music in the words and emotions I’ve come to associate with my subject. I begin writing, using language in new ways and hoping to find a sweet spot that balances emotional tone, information and essence.
The music in this poem came from what seems to me to be the essence of an African elephant —memory, family, joy, grief, and the splendor and fragility of its savannah garden home.
Leslie Bulion is an award-winning children’s book and poetry writer. She has written three volumes of science poetry: At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems (Peachtree Publishers, 2016) ; Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse (Peachtree Publishers, 2015); and Hey There, Stink Bug! (Charlesbridge, 2008), with more coming soon on birds and spiders. She has also written four novels for young readers.