Nick Mulgrew was born in Durban in 1990. He is the author of five books, including the novel A Hibiscus Coast, which won the 2022 K. Sello Duiker Memorial Award, and his latest collection of poems, The Book of Unrest, which is the focus of this conversation.
Nick is also the recipient of the 2016 Thomas Pringle and 2018 Nadine Gordimer Awards, and a runner-up for the 2021 Desperate Literature Award in Madrid. He currently lives in Edinburgh, from where he runs the multi-award-winning poetry press uHlanga, and is working toward a PhD at the University of Dundee.
BY DAVINA PHILOMENA KAWUMA
This conversation took place between Edinburgh and Kampala, via email.
Davina: My sister, who recently completed her PhD, was speaking to me about a paper she’d read, which claimed that PhD students were more likely (than other post-graduate students) to succumb to severe depression and fail to complete their studies. My sister’s path to a PhD was complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which took a huge toll on her. Although I’ve had an enduring interest in mental health, it wasn’t until that conversation that I started to think about mental health within the context of doctorate education.
I’m already familiar with the idea of suffering for post-graduate degrees, if not of attaching more worth to things we’ve managed to attain through much stress and difficulty.
Have you been expected to suffer for your PhD while suffering for your art?
Nick: I think it’s a common experience for this current cohort of PhD students. What no one tells you about working toward a PhD is that there is no safety net. A PhD is often about pursuing new or radical directions of research, and often you get very far in that direction, only to find out that what you find there is not useful, or in fact complicates your research so much that you have to start the entire project again, as I have had to do. How well you deal with those setbacks is one of the real tests of the PhD, and, unfortunately, your mental health – and thus your health in general – is at risk.
I’ve had a few profound setbacks over the past few years – the pandemic being a significant one – and I feel like overcoming them has been as much a part of the process as the research itself.
A few years ago I might have agreed with the notion that we need to suffer for art or education, but I believe now there is enough suffering in the world. Suffering is different to hard work, although we often mistake the one for the other.
I do not like the idea that people need to suffer for their degrees. I know that people need degrees for a variety of professional and economic reasons. And I know there are some A-type, rise-and-grind Insta-losers who would disagree with me, but there are so many people right now who are just killing themselves with stress: our bodies can only take so much strain before they begin to shut down.
The amount of stress people are expected to put themselves under in order to earn a degree, start a career, or even just survive, is untenable. That people are able to respond to stressful conditions does not mean that we should normalise them.
Davina: We do tend to confuse suffering with hard work, don’t we? Incidentally, ‘hard work’ came up during the aforementioned conversation, as did the issue of safety nets. My sister spoke about how she would have preferred to know what to expect, even if this meant having been warned, much earlier, that she should expect the unexpected.
She compared her PhD to the experience of childbirth. She said, of course, everyone says having a child will hurt, and it does, but how you experience that pain can only be how you experience that pain – the pain manifests on such a different scale for everyone that it’s easy to find yourself walking a very lonely path even when you’re, say, ensconced in a lab setting, with several PhD students, applying similar methodologies to similar problems; what might be frustrating other PhD students in the same lab might not necessarily be what’s frustrating you. That, so, yes, it often comes down to how one copes with stress, especially if you’re away from home and dealing with culture shock on top of everything else (which in her case she was).
She also said she thinks the PhD is the one degree during which a network of professional relationships matters as much as individual hard work.
Nick: Not possessing the necessary biological equipment, I’ll never know the pain of childbirth – but I know what your sister means.
Since moving to Scotland, I’ve become friends with more PhD students than I’ve ever known before, and yet all of our experiences have been similar. Perhaps that’s down to the pandemic, which personally robbed from me any hope that my PhD would be three years’ hard but pleasurable experience. I’m three and a half years in, now, and I feel like I’ve only just gotten started.
I’m writing these answers to you now in a state of exhaustion. Every week is mind-numbing through sheer mental exertion. I have read more than I have ever read and I still feel like I know nothing about my topic. This is perfect preparation for academic life, but I’m not sure all of us go into our PhDs thinking that it’s little more than boot camp for researchers, which is what it feels like now, as universities become ever more like corporations.
I have been jealous of my friends who have been studying engineering or programming – their labs stayed open during the pandemic, and they’ve built up professional relationships. Although I’ve built good relationships here, I would have liked to have experienced more, and to remind myself that the world is bigger than my field of study.
Davina: Before we move into the world(s) explored and/or created by your collection, I have a confession: over the years I’ve made a fetish of fonts. Especially the expressive, decorative types which remind me of the lavish handwriting I’ve always wanted.
Naturally, the first thing I notice, and this seems more urgent when I’m reading poetry, is the font.
I really like the font used in The Book of Unrest. I find that it adds a bit of character – a quality all its own, if this makes any sense at all – to the text.
As far as your involvement in determining what made it into/got left out of this collection, and in what form, did you have specific thoughts about your poems being set in “Garamond Premier Pro 11pt on 15pt?”
I’m convinced that fonts do much more than determine levels of read-ability – that they facilitate different levels of write-ability and edit-ability. I seldom edit using the same font that I write in, and often switch to different fonts during the writing/reading process.
“I rely both on the ears of my eyes . . . and the ears of my ears, and sometimes they hear different things, or prefer different things.“
Nick: My undergraduate degree was in publication design – journalism, actually, but design was what I did most of the time – so I pay an inordinate amount of attention to type.
My wife is also a designer, and for four years I lived with a friend who designs typefaces, including one of the typefaces on the cover of The Book of Unrest.
A book is as much of an object as it is a text, and the typeface used is such an important part of that. The wrong typeface can ruin a reading experience; the right one will support it.
I design all of the books published by uHlanga myself, and I’ve been using Garamond Premier Pro as the press’s main body font since about 2017. Some people say that the trademark of a good job done typesetting is when people do not notice it – so I suppose not being asked about it for five years is good going!
Garamondian typefaces have been used in books since the sixteenth century; I like the modern versions for their elegance, legibility, and timelessness. At the same time, they don’t draw too much attention to themselves.
Book covers on the other hand: then it’s time to go wild and see what type designers are coming up with right this second. There are so many good foundries – I’ve used Klim, Fontwerk, and independent sellers on TYPE DEPARTMENT recently.
As far as using fonts in compositions go, I agree with you. I compose entirely on a computer. I usually change the font of a piece I’m working on in between drafts, or even while I’m writing it, if I get stuck. It literally helps me see the text differently. What typefaces do you like to use?
Davina: I’m partial to fonts from the Arial family. Irregardless of time of day, mood, hunger for over-sweetened food, or nature of document, Arial Nova Light strikes me as the most grounded and reasonable font to type in. (I hope this choice speaks to my practical and sensible nature, ahem.) Otherwise, a pretty, hand-lettering font (so I can stare, longingly, at the screen instead of actually writing. Hah!).
And as for a book being as much an object as it is a text, I’m curious about your experience of your poems as an object versus your experience of your poems as texts.
I was talking to Scottish-Egyptian writer Rachelle Atalla, who was in Kampala recently, about her novel. We discussed several things, including her reaction to the idea of her work as a commodity (no longer a document she once saved on her desktop) and whether publication brings feelings of satisfaction (this piece argues that it doesn’t always).
I asked if she’d read her novel since it was published. She said she went over the novel manuscript so many times, during the editorial process, that she hasn’t felt particularly motivated to read the published version (she will usually read extracts during book festivals, and readings, though).
Nick: Being a typesetter and then a publisher, I have always thought of my texts as potential objects even while I’m writing them. I know that, when I’m finished with writing the text, I’m going to have to typeset and design the book (I’ve done this for the first South African edition of all of my books so far) and this affects the text, however subconsciously, for better or worse.
So my experience with my books has been different to most writers, I think. The process of producing a book from a text is so intense that I do not allow myself to think of the book’s potential reception or anything like that. I attempt to make editorial and design decisions that will benefit the text and text-object.
I have learned not to dream too much about the results coming from the book’s creation, because the nature of expectations (or dreams) is that, even if they are fulfilled, they never happen in the way we imagine them.
Once my book is printed and in readers’ hands, it no longer seems like something I must put my everything into; more often than not, it begins to repulse me. I think that’s why I try to make my books look pleasing: even if I can’t stand what is inside them, the object can still stand proudly on a shelf.
I have never read any of my books after publication, except on occasions on which people ask me to read in public, and even then I read as little as I can get away with. It’s not a motivation thing: reading my books makes me unspeakably anxious; I think about potential readings and things I might have changed, and sometimes I question the validity of the work. I see how other people might see me. I see how other people might see this object. This is not good for my state of mind, for obvious reasons.
I have only had a few readings for The Book of Unrest, including one in Sweden and one at Typewronger Books here in Edinburgh. I’ll only read from it again if I have an invitation to.
Davina: Last year, South African writer, Marina Auer, and I were talking about prologues. I mentioned a friend who does not read prologues and then admitted that I, on the other hand, read everything: forewords, afterwords, prologues, epilogues, introductions, acknowledgements, etc. I said I figured that whatever people have gone to the trouble to include in a book must be something I need to know.
Marina said she also reads everything, from the dedication to the acknowledgements:
“It’s fascinating to hear how many people contribute to a published novel, while I sit in solitude writing mine.”
You acknowledge a couple of friends at the beginning of The Book of Unrest – friends who “have contributed to my own understanding of these poems.” This bit intrigued me, Nick. How did that work, in practice? Were you initially finding yourself writing poems whose purpose/meaning you weren’t quite sure of, and then relying on said friends to explain them to you?
I’ve written a few poems whose meaning I was either unable or reluctant to comprehend; I’ve had to rely on poet friends to go through them and say “I think this is what you mean” or “This doesn’t mean enough. Not yet.”
Nick: I always have friends read over my work before I consider it done. Writing a text is only one part of it; the other is its reading. As I write, I feel like I do not have the adequate emotional distance from the text to evaluate it, so another pair of eyes (or pairs of eyes, in really difficult cases) is needed before I decide what to do.
I wrote the majority of these poems during a time of extended illness, which made me feel distant from my own emotions. So I would write a poem, whether it was only a few lines in an hour, or a few pages over a much longer period of time, and I would end up not really understanding the impulse of feeling that led to me starting the poem in the first place. So my friends helped with that, or with technical issues I had with composing the poems.
I have edited about a dozen books of poetry now, some of which have done quite well. I have found, in poetry, that the more that an editor and a writer collaborate and work together on making the collection emotionally and formally coherent, the better.
My editor for this book was Francine Simon, who I have also edited myself, so we have a strong and intuitive working relationship. We have very similar backgrounds, too, Francine and I, and, as this collection focuses a lot on childhood myth and memory, it was useful to have someone who understood the place I came from on my side. She’s a great friend as well as a great editor.
Davina: What kind of technical issues?
Nick: The usual ones. Metre, form, line breaks, structure, vocabulary, getting rid of obnoxious gimmicks.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, but over the past few years I found myself writing longer poems than I was used to; poems that would come out in parts that were often profoundly different from each other, in terms of style or point of view. I do not know why I did this. My feeling, looking back, is that I was dealing with complicated subjects and complicated emotions that I needed to resolve or otherwise somehow contain within the same poem.
I’m thinking especially of “Choosing sides”, about social dynamics among my school friends and I, or “A brief history of shipwrecks”, about European castaways living on the southern coast of South Africa. These poems are in so many parts because the points of view change through chronological time, as well as by setting up different perspectives. These points of view need to both be distinct and cohere.
Many of the problems I had were about piecing these pieces together, and trying to figure out if (and if so, how) they work as individual poems. Many poems ended up discarded; they might have made sense in my head as I was composing them, but they didn’t (or wouldn’t) to other readers.
Davina: Thank you for introducing me to Francine Simon. I’ve looked her up and read a few of her poems, including “Daniel,” “Examination,” and “Churel.” I was raised Catholic so I recognise many of the impressions and petitions in her poems.
And, yes, I see some similarities. Something about “they call me Naga / a bright green / light leads you to me / the rain so slightly wet,” from Simon’s “Second skin,” echoes lines like “Bled out, the songololo hose now curls – / or is it the mamba as it unfurls / in green spitting fear? The kreepy-krawly heartbeat / drives you back inside, where there are no eyes but yours” from “Ode to a time and place that is not this time and place.”
Per your focus on childhood memory and myth, I’m reminded of a piece – I read it last year – on mythistory; it explores the ways in which myths solidify into history and history dissolves into myths. It makes reference to the important tasks of taking other people’s points of view seriously while acknowledging the limits of one’s vision of truth.
I want to link this to something you said –
…being able to do publishing work – to help bring other people’s work and stories into the public sphere – brings me a lot of freedom in my own work. I don’t have to tie myself up into knots, doing this thing that a lot of writers do, asking myself, “Oh, is whatever I’m writing about important enough to be writing about, when there’s so much else in the world that’s more demanding and important?” uHlanga lets me leave alone that question, or even the question about whether it’s one that writers should be asking themselves in the first place. I can focus specifically on whatever mess I happen to be focusing on, and trust that the publishing work that I do is addressing the more important business.
– by asking about your relationship with the limits of your visions of truth, if you consider/acknowledge these limits at all, the ways in which they might constrain you from confronting whatever mess demands to be confronted, etc.
Nick: It’s great that you see similarities between mine and Fran’s work. I think we’d both be happy with the comparison.
About “truth”… well. During my master’s, I researched what I called “authority”, as it operated in South African non-fiction. Part of my thesis was to do away with any idea of “the truth”, because the truth does not exist. This doesn’t mean I don’t think things can be true – many things are true, and there is a truth to many things – or that things can’t be functionally true for the purposes of conversation or discourse or in our relationships with each other. I lack the vocabulary and intellectual confidence to try to unpack things further here.
I have long believed that things may feel or be true to someone without them necessarily feeling or being true to another person. If you take part in organised religion, for example, you’ll probably encounter this when speaking with other people: even in a community where people actively agree upon “the truth”, there are schisms in thought or memory or interpretation.
Indeed, often the most interesting thing about “the truth” is how evasive it is. The strongest and most painful arguments I’ve seen in people’s lives have often been about the small details in an otherwise-shared truth; the result is often to substitute in myth wholesale for what actually happened. It’s a strategy I employ in my writing, too.
Davina: One of my poet friends strongly believes that every poet should perform their poetry. His mantra has always been one of “poetry is meant for the ear.” Over the years, we’ve had several differences about what constitutes “the real ear”; as a compromise, I’ve decided to open myself to the idea of reading as performance.
First, I will read a poem with the ears of my eyes (I know this sounds silly, but do bear with me), and then later with the ears of my ears (again, bear with me). In both instances, my interaction with a poem is of course mediated by the way I speak, i.e., in a rhythm suggested by Uglish (Ugandan English).
Whenever I have to rely on the ears of my ears, when I’m reading aloud, for instance, there’s often a deep self-consciousness – an almost physical discomfort.
On the other hand, the ears of my eyes seldom require me to worry about where to put the emphasis, or which syllable to stress. They do not demand an immediate response to the question of what metre the poet intended to write in, for instance.
Let’s take one of my favourite poems in your collection. When I read it aloud, I end up with something like this:
Eet EEZ uhn EMP tee FEE lee-ng EEN tha SUH-N,
not FEE lee-ng EETS woh-mth.
AYES klozd UH genst EET,
tha HAF lahyit EKS poh ZEZ tu BLOO.
Uh PEE john FLAHYZ fro-m THA ney BAAZ woht BOOSH.
Fro-m EETS chehst NOY zez
Aye HEE yah EET kah REE
At the end of which I’m tempted to wonder if maybe the sun cannot feel its own heat.
Whereas when I do not read it aloud, I do not feel the need to use “an accent,” which here would mean that I’m affecting British or American pronunciations of English words (which is what the average performance poet tends to default to). I also do not worry that my inability to affect a proper British or American pronunciation will leave me unable to tap into every emotion in the poem.
I’m content to give most of the words the same weight (even while acknowledging the horror in my inability to feel the sun’s warmth).
Nick: This is what I love about poetry and its reading. There seem to be rules and structures, but – honestly – there aren’t. Whether you are the writer, the reader, or the listener of a poem, there is really just you and the text. The experience of the poem, therefore, is entirely personal, even if it’s being performed to a room full of people. All of the ways you engage with a poem – that’s the way the poem works!
I rely both on the ears of my eyes – I love that phrase, by the way – and the ears of my ears, and sometimes they hear different things, or prefer different things.
I’ve been told all my life that I have an unusual way of speaking – no matter where I go, I’m told I have a strong accent. I don’t sound any kind of South African; I don’t sound any kind of Scottish; I don’t sound any kind of thing. (And I mumble.) This makes things trickier, because reading the poems out to myself is how I get their rhythm and metre right, and often these change from reading to reading. So I’m glad you like “Sertraline” – it’s one that I worked very hard on to get the rhythm and metre right to my own ear – which, at this point, is the only one I work to satisfy.
I’m not sure I agree with your friend, by the way. Not every poem needs to be performed. We’re living through a moment that’s very pro-performance, and while I think that’s liberating for a lot of people, not every person or poem is suited to it.
Davina: “Sertraline” topped my list (may the other poems in your collection find the serenity to forgive me for picking favourites) followed closely by “Dramatis personae,” “A brief history of shipwrecks,” “Ode to a time and place that is not this time and place,” “Ancestral recall,” and “Dogma.”
How did you arrive at the decision to turn the last part of “A brief history of shipwrecks” into vertical text?
Nick: The poems are set lengthways on the page to keep long lines intact. I only typeset poems this way when the lines are too long to fit on the width of the page because I believe in the sanctity of the line – the basic building block of most poems.
You know, there have been a few uHlanga books that have drawn criticism from reviewers for having “vertical text”. uHlanga titles are published only as physical books, so the only people who have this problem are reviewers to whom I send PDF copies.
Davina: Oh. I actually quite like variations in how words appear on a page. (I once encountered a poem that I had to read backwards. That was fun.) Naturally, I assumed that the vertical alignment in the e-copy was intentional in the way that, say, some of the text in the physical copy of House of Leaves is.
(“Reading Ancestral recall” as a vertical text seemed appropriate, especially against/within the context of the persona not being OK despite thinking, saying, and acting as if they are.)
Earlier, when you spoke about some of the poems being in many parts because the points of view change through chronological time, the first poem I thought of, as being the type genus of this for me, was “Ode to a time and place that is not this time and place.”
What indeed does it matter what we call it, that thing that’s always waiting for us in ambush – that thing that follows us stealthily? Whatever we call it, disquiet, restlessness, or unrest, it is there in the knowledge of the song you can’t hear but whose key you know, the neighbour’s conflicts with the thieving vervets, a sky made opaque by the char of the fields and factories, the brown sea, the blue estuary, your radioactive skin, the men who leave Durban to fulfil uncertain tasks, etc.
Then, that question – “God, what is in this strange heat?” And the answer that follows! “The distant siren, a lineage of moans; the breath of a world with spiders in its lungs.” Those last lines almost took my breath away; I always know I love a poem when I start to imagine bits of it as titles of short stories!
When do you know that you love a poem?
Nick: I love a poem when I no longer hate it; when I don’t cringe or get hung up on any word, phrase, or line when I read it to myself.
It makes me happy to hear that all of these images stood out to you – they’re all images that have come to me in states of panic, states of distress, and paired to images of my childhood home during the riots there almost two years ago. I don’t like to think about it too much, lest my idea of the poem (or the safer place that I’m in now in my psyche) begin to warp.
Davina: The word ‘blue’ appears quite a bit in the collection, Nick – and sometimes as more than just a colour; sometimes, it represents the puritanical, other times it represents the despondent, etc. By maybe the fifth time I encountered it, I was reminded of a book I read a while back – On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. I looked for it and went over some of the bits I’d highlighted.
This is from Michael Gorra’s introduction:
Meaning is ever labile, as Pastoureau’s account of the rainbow suggests, but however much one may bleed into another our words have each their own unduplicated specificity. Blue is many things for Gass, and his account of it will make him speculate about the way children distinguish shape from size from color, it will take him back to Democritus and forward to Edwin H. Land, and lead him on to comparisons of Rilke and Rodin, Pollock and Picasso.
Among the derivations of the word, I especially like blavus, from medieval Latin, and the earlier, more classical, flavus, for the discolorations of a bruise, so that it sometimes meant yellow, with perhaps a hint of green beneath the skin like naughty under-clothes.
So a random set of meanings has softly gathered around the word the
way lint collects. The mind does that. A single word, a single thought, a
Single thing, as Plato taught. We cover our concepts, like fish, with clouds
of net. Cops and bobbies wear blue. We catch them and connect. Imagined
origins reduce the sounds of clash and contradiction, as when one cries out
blue murder in the street. There’s the blue for baby boy, the blue of blue sky
laws, blue for jeans, blue for hogs. The coal fish, a salmon, the glut-herring,
a kind of trout, are said to have blue-backs and are named so in Yorkshire, Maryland, Virginia, Maine.
What, when, where is blue to you?
Nick: That’s such an interesting thing you’ve picked up on, Davina – all the blues.
There’s the blue of the ocean from the windows of my mother’s flat. It is still the thing I do most when I go home – just sitting and watching the container boats queue up for the harbour.
There’s Marian blue, the blue of the Virgin Mary: there’s a concrete cross on the cover of the book, which is on the old part of Blessed Sacrament in Virginia, the church I went to multiple times a week as a child; growing up, the inside of that church was decorated all shades of blue.
I have translucent skin, so I can see a lot of my veins, and they’re all blue.
Davina: I know one or two writers who say they prefer not to read poetry while they are writing poetry, fiction while they are writing fiction, non-fiction while they are writing non-fiction, etc. You?
Nick: Generally, I just read what I feel like reading. Even when I’m stressed, I look at art books. So, I read a lot of books during the time of writing these poems. Some of them have blue covers, even, like Mating Birds by Lewis Nkosi and Another Way to Split Water by Alycia Pirmohamed.
My poem-writing is far less disciplined than when I’m writing other things, and I find a steady diet of poetry is a good way to stay inspired, learn new things, discover approaches that I want to try myself, or even find poems that say things that I wanted to say, but in ways in which I never could. Someone else’s good poem doesn’t threaten me; it’s one more for me to enjoy.
Davina: You mentioned that writing realist fiction is about “correctly identifying the forces at work in a community or a person,” and then “manipulating those forces, both through and into a narrative that can be artistically realised.”
I agree with Kris’ response; manipulating the forces surrounding a community or a person is an interesting way of looking at the writing process. (Although I’m sure I manage some variation of this while I’m writing stories, I suppose the most important step for me is identifying the forces in a community or a person that make it difficult/impossible to broach certain conversations, and then trying to weave a narrative around that.)
Did you use a similar approach with some poems in this collection? I’m thinking now of “A journalist in uMlazi.”
Nick: My poems are far less intentional than my novels, and sometimes far more autobiographical. That said, I’m still observing inter-personal and societal dynamics in my poems, but usually the subject that these forces are working on is myself, or more accurately, my self – a poetic self that is consistently in flux.
So, let’s take “A journalist in uMlazi” as an example. It’s a selfish poem. It’s about a me, or a person, who encounters a violent truth of South African experience. I was a teenager and I was working at a newspaper on my winter vacation, and the first story I was assigned to was gathering information about a serial rapist operating in a section of Durban’s biggest so-called township. (I say “so-called” because uMlazi is bigger than the city I currently live in, despite being poorly serviced).
The idea that I should report this and that nothing should happen to correct it was abominable to me, but, as I would find out as I grew up, a normal experience for every professional journalist in South Africa. So this poem is about trying to make sense of the various forces I could see at work – from a retrospective distance – and writing more about it here would defeat the point of writing the poem.
The companion poem to “A journalist…” is “Siam, in another place”, which is an elegy of sorts for a young woman from my home community – I didn’t know her, but she went to the same school I had gone to and lived across the road from the school bus stop – who was abducted and killed by a man, who subsequently also died while awaiting trial.
The fact that the young woman was a sex worker titillated the press, as well as the famously open-minded citizens of Durban North. A very different story, but still one in which a woman was harmed and then immediately buried under people’s unthinking words.
This dialogue was edited by our Senior Editor, Wambua Paul Muindi.
Davina was born in a university teaching hospital in Lusaka and raised on the grounds of Uganda’s oldest university in Kampala (from where she would later receive a BSc in Botany and Zoology and a PGDE in biological sciences). Her MSc (Zoology) research assessed the abundance and richness of forest-dependent birds in two tropical lowland rainforest fragments in central Uganda.
She writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Her short story, “Of Birds and Bees”, was shortlisted for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize and the 2022 Gerald Kraak Prize. Her short story, “Touch Me Not”, was shortlisted for the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize.
She’s interested in the intersection between literature and science, will read anything with an arresting title, writes about topics that interest her, and is an aspiring wildlife photographer.