UMW News Bureau
University of Montana Western Professor of English Alan Weltzien is celebrating the successful publication of “To Kilimanjaro and Back.” The poetry chapbook was recently accepted by Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
After taking a 15-day trip with his son Alec to East Africa in June 2009, Weltzien began writing poetry about their experiences.
“I’ve wanted to do this most of my life,” Weltzien explained of the trip. “It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. It was about honoring my oldest son, recently graduated from college, before he moved to new time zones.”
Weltzien’s African expedition began with Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent. Kilimanjaro also ranks as the world’s highest free-standing mountain. Weltzien and his son climbed to the summit accompanied by their guides, five fellow Americans and one British man.
“The heart of the trip was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro,” Weltzien recalled. “It reaches over 19,000 feet.”
After a week spent summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, Weltzien and Alec went on a private safari encompassing Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park and other locations.
“I journaled extensively but photos and journals weren't enough,” Weltzien stated. “So I went to poetry. Poetry distills and holds the experience much better. Last winter I joined the poetry circle hosted by poets Roger Dunsmore and Jenni Fallein, and many of these poems were revised after this workshop.”
Weltzien finished writing in August and began submitting the chapbook to presses.
Weltzien says “To Kilimanjaro and Back” is comprised of mid-length poems ranging in topic from Mount Kilimanjaro, national parks, native animal and plant species to the guides and companions of the trip.
“The chapbook should be published and available early in the new year, 2011,” Weltzien added. “I plan to give a reading on campus in The Cup in Block V [January] in part to launch the chapbook.”