Friday, January 17, 2020

Poetry Friday: The Things With Feathers

My OLW for 2020 is HOPE, and Emily Dickinson famously wrote "Hope is the thing with feathers," so I'm looking forward to exploring some avian metaphors this year. I got a good start on that with two bird anthologies for Christmas:
This fun bird poem was on Tracy K. Smith's podcast, "The Slowdown," the other day.

The Birds of New York
by Francisco X. Alarcòn

the birds of New York
live out on cornices
chimneys and roofs
on top of tall buildings

amid granite and cement
every morning they sing
thanksgiving chants to
the busy sun of Summer

the birds of New York
are confused by so many
city lights and take turns
flying around day and night

Here's the rest.

At this link from Audubon magazine, there are some treasures on the avian poetry front. After an interview with Margaret Atwood, there are five new bird poems by her!

I especially enjoyed learning that she and her husband Graeme Gibson (who died recently) used to go birding together. He wrote a book called The Bedside Book of Birds, in which he said that "birdwatching can encourage a state of being close to rapture." In the interview the author (Jessica Leber) asks Atwood to reflect on moments like that with her husband. Atwood's response: "You don't stop in the middle of watching a bird and say, 'Hey, are you having a rapturous moment? Yeah, gee, so am I!' It's not how life goes."

Here's to seeking birds, and rapture, and recognizing both when we find them.

Today's roundup is here.


Sally Murphy said...

Thanks for posting, Ruth. I enjoyed the interview with Atwood and her poems are superb - and, of course, in Atwood style, challenging.

Irene Latham said...

Look at you with all these feathery thoughts! I love it. Also, I'm eager to expand my birding knowledge: what species are unique to Haiti??? Educate me! (could even be in a poem...please?) xo

Ruth said...

Intriguing idea, Irene! Writing it down!

Linda B said...

I belong to Audubon & read that article, loved the poems, Ruth. The Birds of New York is both sad, but celebrating the resiliency. I am constantly mesmerized here by our crows, love watching them gather & they do often! Thanks for every birdy bit today!

Kay said...

Thanks for sharing these. I enjoyed Stork's poem on The Slowdown, but missed the Atwood interview. I'm hanging out with Irene to learn more about birds in Haiti.

Mary Lee said...

Some random thoughts...bird life of Haiti: yes, please! ...The Slowdown: I often think of you while listening. You got me started and now I'm hooked. The Billy Collins anthology: love love love it. Your word for 2020: may it sustain you!

Christie Wyman said...

You had me at feathers, Ruth! I'm sitting here watching the birds dig through the snow that fell last evening. I have Bright Wings, but wasn't familiar with the Everyman's collection. Will have to look for that. For Christmas, I received from one of my Kindergarten families (who know I'm addicted to birds) an amazing book entitled America's Other Audubon, about "Genevieve Jones, her family, and the making of an extraordinary nineteenth-century book, Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio." The story is fascinating and the artwork spectacular!

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, may hope continue to lead your through the year. The line from the poem that resonated with me is: "connoisseurs of city garbage". What a great term for the birds of NYC. I love the idea of you "seeking birds, and rapture, and recognizing both when we find them." Here's to that idea but especially to finding rapture in your reality. That is where HOPE comes in.

michelle kogan said...

I'm eyeing your two bird books, actually I wrote them down, enjoy them! I get the Audubon Magazine, interesting article and poems by Atwood. Have fun with "HOPE" this year, thanks Ruth!

Catherine said...

Thank you for this feather-filled post. My OLW is perspective, so I appreciated Francis X. Alarcòn's bird's eye view of New York. I'm intrigued by the Atwood article, but the link isn't working for me. I'll try to access it another way. I'd love to read poems about the birds of Haiti, too!