- Paperback: 220 pages
- Publisher: Anhinga Press; first edition (December 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934695041
- ISBN-13: 978-1934695043
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,253,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Poets Guide to the Birds first Edition
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The painter, Walter Inglis Anderson, once said that birds are the holes in heaven through which man may pass, and I think that many of us look upon birds with the kind of awe and wonder Anderson's statement suggests. And, sometimes, poems about birds are better than seeing the birds themselves. Judith Kitchen and I, like enthusiastic birdwatchers, here point our fingers toward poems that might otherwise go unnoticed amidst the dense foliage of contemporary poetry. We hope our readers will enjoy this book just half as much as if they'd actually seen all the birds these poems represent. --Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate 2004-2006
Although the forecast promised thundershowers a dozen people showed up for our first scheduled Central Park bird walk of 2009. One was a very good birder. The rest were beginners. I love leading beginners. To beginners everything is new and interesting. They come full of questions about the birds they have seen at their weekend homes or through their windows. They are thrilled to learn and remember the song of the White-throated sparrow, although they insist that it doesn t sound anything like oh Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody. They aren t jaded. They haven t lost the ability to be delighted by common birds. Nevertheless, I find myself feeling a bit like a failure when I cannot rack up a big list, or put them on to something unusual like the Yellow-throated warbler that hung around the model boat pond for the ten days preceding our walk. Beginners keep me grounded. They remind me that birding isn t about listing, or seeing something rare, or evolutionary relationships although all of those things are fun and add to the experience. The bigger part of birding is more intimate. The biggest part of birding is about the way we experience birds, the claims they have patented on our imaginations, and the joy of sharing the world with creatures which just happen to have wings. A group of experts would have been off like a bunch of hunting dogs heading for the Ramble after the first hello. But my group seemed happy to begin our walk by listening to a poem by Holly J. Hughes called: March 6, 1890: Eugene Schiefflin Releases 80 Starlings In Central Park, in which the poet imagines the introduction of starlings to the new world. At last he stops, lowers each cage, lifts each latch. The starlings step out, blinking, each clawed foot unscrolling into the snow. Dazed from months aboard ship and carriage, they linger near the cages, flex their wings, a spatter of white on black like puddingstone, lower their tails, cock their heads, preen, eyes bright like honey. At 4:30 clouds cut away. clear sky thickens into evening. Still they stay close to their cages. Finally, growing cold, he rushes at the birds, scarecrowing his arms: Go, go, go. At first one then another, and another, until the whole murmuration lifts and spirals, a spidery helix against a darkening sky. The poet, in recounting an event that I have come to regard as an act of ecoterrorism, reminds her readers of the romantic conceit which instigated the introduction of starlings to the new world. (Eugene Schiefflin brought the birds here because he wanted Central Park to have all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare.) The poem reminds me that Schiefflin, too, was a birder of sorts, in that birds took up residence in his imagination and lived there as a metaphor for an aesthetic and literary pure ground. The poet tells the story from the perspective of the birds and the man. She does what poets do. She delights. She surprises. She transmits her vision to her readers. She alters our perspective. The poem is included in a new collection edited by poets Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, (former Poet Laureate of the US) called The Poets Guide To The Birds. The idea came to Ted Kooser as he was moving some books to a new library. In the process he went through some of them and was struck by how many of the poems were about birds. He called his friend, Judith Kitchen, to ask if she could think of any others. Together, they came up with more than 150 poems which were mostly written during the past thirty years. The roster includes a number of well-known poets like Wendell Berry, Brendan Galvin, Eamon Grennan, W.S. Merwin, and Ted Kooser, but most of these poets are new to me. Most of them don t seem to be bird watchers but, individually and collectively, they seem to have honed --Wayne Mones, The Perch
About the Author
Judith Kitchen is the author of a collection of poems and two collections of personal essays, most recently Distance and Direction (Coffee House Press). Her novel, The House on Eccles Road, was awarded the S. Mariella Gable Award from Graywolf Press in 2001. She has edited three anthologies of short nonfiction for W. W. Norton In Short, In Brief, and Short Takes. Her awards include an NEA fellowship in poetry, a Pushcart Prize for nonfiction, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, the Anhinga Prize for poetry, and the Lillian Fairchild Award. For twenty years, she lived in upstate New York where she served as editor of State Street Press. She currently lives in Port Townsend, WA, and is co-director of the Rainier Writing Workshop Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University. She is the regular reviewer of poetry for The Georgia Review where she serves as an Advisory and Contributing Editor. Ted Kooser is one of Nebraska s most highly regarded poets and served as the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. A professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004) and Weather Central (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994). His first book of prose, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002), won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003 and Third Place in the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award in Nonfiction for 2002. Over the years, his works have appeared in many periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Kooser s poems are included in textbooks and anthologies used in both secondary schools and college classrooms across the country. He has received two NEA fellowships in poetry, the Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize, The James Boatwright Prize, and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.