Thursday, November 23, 2023

Poetry Friday Roundup is Here, and Taxonomy!

Welcome, welcome! I'm so happy to have you here in my little corner of the Web. This post goes live on Thanksgiving Day, and so I'm asking you, if you're willing, to include something in addition to your poem, or in your poem, to be thankful for, some reason that your life contains joy in spite of all the horror that goes on in this world. Leave your link in the comments and I'll round up the old-fashioned way. Remember that I'm eight hours ahead of Eastern Time, so I may be sleeping sometimes when you're awake, plus Friday is a workday for me. I'll get everything up there as fast as I can! I have comment moderation enabled, so you won't see your comment immediately. 


For me, the birds have been helping me a lot in the past few years. I got seriously into birding in 2019, when we in Haiti were in a political lockdown for weeks and weeks (we were in person at school only 14 weeks that school year). I decided to learn the birds in my yard, and then as time went on, I became increasingly obsessed. Now that I live in Uganda, I am blessed to be in one of the world's best places for birding. Unfortunately it's not (or at least my house isn't) one of the best places for attending webinars, as I tried to recently to learn about the 2023 eBird/Clements taxonomy update. I'll have to watch the recording instead, as I got kicked off the webinar again and again until finally I gave up 45 minutes in. But even in the few glimpses I had of the speakers and what they had to say, I decided that taxonomy is something I'm thankful for this year. It just makes me feel better about the planet that there are human beings who care so much about getting these tiny distinctions right, about expanding our knowledge of the birds. This year, according to eBird, the "update includes 3 newly described species, 124 species gained because of splits, and 16 species lost through lumps, resulting in a net gain of 111 species and a new total of 11,017 species worldwide!" (You can read more about it at their post here.)


So I decided to write an ode to this wonderful science, taxonomy.


Ode to Taxonomy

you clean the closet,
sort the junk drawer,
alphabetize the shelves:
a place for everything
and everything in its place.

you pay attention,
study the DNA,
tend to the lumping and the splitting,
notice the tiniest details.

you’re a dragon
clawing contentedly through its horde,
seeing what’s there
and feeling richer.

you’re also poetry:
putting words to the silvery flashes
of feather and beak,
giving language to the overwhelming masses
of teeming life,
naming what is.

The world is ours to love,
ours to see and appreciate,
ours to let be,
ours to learn
and know by name.

you see to all that. 

 ©Ruth Bowen Hersey

The first poem is in already, from Linda, who has a collection of gems, as always! Thank you, Linda, and Happy Thanksgiving! Like you, I'm thankful for this community! 

Bridget is in from Switzerland with "a silly take on local real estate." She and all those other critters are thankful for a place to live!


Janice is reading and writing about ravens! I have to get that book!

The Poetry Sisters are writing like Valerie Worth today! Hooray! I love Valerie Worth's writing and am looking forward to all her worthy imitators. The first one to show up is Michelle, who has two lovely entries.

Heidi is marking Thankstaking (go read the explanation) and Climate Friday. Here we all are, knowing...

I was really hoping I'd be able to access Jone's post this time, but nope, still can't. Although I can't read it, I hope you can. You can find it here.

Laura's done a Valerie Worth poem too, and hers is about a hawk! You know I love that!

Linda B.'s also doing Valerie Worth, and encouraging us to get outside! I would love to, but I'm in a class with my ninth graders taking a test (don't worry, I can see them well from my desk), so I can't right now. Later, though...

Alan was inspired by an ordinary event to write a great little poem! 

I'm pausing during a lull (as there are no new comments in my inbox) to reread the roundup so far and realize it contains entirely too many exclamation marks. All the poetry makes me giddy. I can't blame it on Thanksgiving dinner because we aren't eating that until tomorrow. I will try to be less flighty, but I can't guarantee anything.

Mary Lee has a poem in the style of Valerie Worth, too, and hers is about something so small but with so much potential: a ladybug larva. And she's thankful for creativity in all its forms.

Sara is looking at small things with the Poetry Sisters, and she's written about lentils and a doorstop. I'm loving these Valerie Worth poems!

Liz is sharing some Valerie Worth poems too. My favorite lines: "A dog-eared page/creased like a collar,/like a paper crane..." 

Tricia's attic poem is so evocative that I feel like I'm there. And the photo of her son's writer's notebook is priceless, too.

Margaret's eagle poem shows how connected we can feel to natural things, especially birds! Her photo is lovely, too.

Tanita has written some wonderful Valerie Worth style poems, specifically choosing small things likely to be overlooked. "May we," writes Tanita, "by being open, inventive, expressive, and questioning, live our uncertainty and questions into answers that change everything."


Patricia visited but left a link to my blog instead of hers. Patricia, come back and link me!


Irene is imagining "If the Sun Had Shoes." And she's been having a wonderful time walking around in her own shoes!


Carol is writing Valerie Worth poems too, and hers are all about Thanksgiving. Sounds delicious and beautiful! 

Denise is imagining "the last love letter" she'll write, and she has some questions that I also would like to ask. Thanks, Denise!

Patricia is sharing three beautiful poems that are responses to how things are right now.

Thanks, everyone, for participating! I hope you all had a wonderful Poetry Friday!


Linda Mitchell said...

Ruth! Happy Thanksgiving! I dropped by before starting in on my cooking to get your blog's link for my post and you're already published! Of course. You are ahead of us in time. What a fabulous consideration of taxonomy. Sorting and cleaning and organizing is what I spent a lot of my day doing yesterday and gosh, it feels great. Thank you for hosting and your love of birds. I learn so much about the birding world through you. And, I've missed your words. It is absolutely wonderful to see your post this week. I'm in for some simple surprises and poems this week.

Jone MacCulloch said...

Happy Poetry Friday.
Thank you for hosting. I am so thankful; for this ongoing community. Also thankful for sunrises. And the New Year Postcard invite is up.

Linda B said...

Hi Ruth, It's great to hear that good news about what the taxonomy people have found in their research. Thanks for sharing that. I know some of the news because I receive the Audubon magazine and different feeds from them. I love the comparison you made to poetry in your poem! Thanks for hosting. I've taken the Poetry Sisters poem challenge for November, to write a poem in the style of Valerie Worth. And, I've tried to connect it to your call for some goodness in the world. I am thankful for all my family, some near; others far, but we connect often & have good times together.

Mary Lee said...

I love your poem. Your metaphors are spot-on, and that ending...YES! Thank you for hosting us.

I am grateful for this community of writers/poets, and I am grateful for my own practices of making things with needle and thread, block and ink, paper and pencil.

The Poetry Sisters wrote poems in the style of Valerie Worth, and I'm also thankful for that wee ladybug larva in the fennel in my garden!

Sara said...

"Taxonomy, you are also poetry..." wow, yes, indeed. I sometimes think of poetry as a beautiful way to argue a case, and your celebration of taxonomy leads us right to your tender conclusion: pay attention, love. YES. Thanks for hosting. I'm writing "in the style of Valerie Worth" today, celebrating small things.

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

Oh, I ADORE this poem. Thank you for doing so much good with that single word...
I'm sharing two poems "In the style of... Valerie Worth" today, with my poetry sisters. Thanks for rounding up!

Tricia said...

As a science lover, I adore this poem. Thank you for sharing it.
With the rest of the poetry sisters, I too am sharing a poem "in the style of" Valerie Worth.

Margaret Simon said...

Like others, I love that you find poetry in taxonomy. I have a grandson on my lap as I type this message. He is giving me joy this season. I also wrote a bird poem inspired by Fran Haley at Ethical ELA:

tanita✿davis said...

Good morning/evening! I love your taxonomy poem; I got into birding we lived in the UK and I was always trying to find something familiar. After seeing so much difference, I began to look for it, too, and as I've always believed, photography seems to be a gateway drug to birding... my subjects don't always sit still for a good shot, but I'm still trying.

Thanks for hosting today - I'm grateful for what remains when we think we have nothing left - and many are the gifts, when we can take a breath and cup our hands around them.

I'm in with another Valerie Worth 'noticing' poem, celebrating, finding the sparkles in the ordinary"

Anonymous said...

This is Patricia— What a joy to think about Taxonomy and all its gifts! Thank you Ruth! Here is my link:

Jone MacCulloch said...

Forgot my link:

Irene Latham said...

Oh taxonomy! Love the poem, Ruth. Thank you for hosting!! I've got a fresh ArtSpeak: Light poem ..."If the Sun Had Shoes." xo

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, thank you for hosting this Thanksgiving Weekend. I enjoyed your intriguing title and post. These lines stood out for me:
you’re also poetry:
putting words to the silvery flashes
of feather and beak...
May your holidays be filled with bird watching, poetry, family, and many blessings.
I am playing along with the Poetry Sisters with a Thanksgiving flair:

laurasalas said...

Ruth, your poem is so lovely! I love the images of taxonomy as a closet cleaner and a dragon, and the ending is so gentle and full of love. Recently for some work-for-hire projects, I've needed to look at taxonomy tables to determine exactly which species fit into each book. I had thought a little about taxonomists as I read about how this species used to be part of that genus but was now put into a genus all by itself, etc. because of recent studies and tests. I love how your poem celebrates the whole process and driving force behind that research.

Thanks for hosting!