The Names of Birds: Poems

Overview

A nuthatch walking perpendicular down a tree, "dressed to kill," the hydraulic lift of the sand hill cranes' legs at take-off, the song of the vireo. Perhaps birders are a special species but they also include many of us, who if not trained to binoculars, are still stopped in our tracks at a flickering wing in our peripheral vision.
In this latest collection of poems, Tom Crawford lends his keen sense of observation and resonant language to the wonder and evocative nature of ...
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Overview

A nuthatch walking perpendicular down a tree, "dressed to kill," the hydraulic lift of the sand hill cranes' legs at take-off, the song of the vireo. Perhaps birders are a special species but they also include many of us, who if not trained to binoculars, are still stopped in our tracks at a flickering wing in our peripheral vision.
In this latest collection of poems, Tom Crawford lends his keen sense of observation and resonant language to the wonder and evocative nature of birds in all their multiplicity. Here are a hundred pages of remarkable poetry, poems, which, in their accessibility and lyrical celebration, establish man's essential connection with birds and the natural world. As he says in his prologue, "We are spiritual animals. When we forget this essential truth, we invite calamity.” These poems are offered like prayers-as if by naming the thing- like Shackleton planting a flag at the north pole -the poet stakes a claim for birds, and by extension the planet. His poems sing an ancient truth: to lose our sense of wonder is to lose ourselves.
What makes THE NAMES OF BIRDS unique is the balance the poet strikes between fear and hope, mystery and wonder. This he achieves by telling us a story in poetry of his own beginnings as a boy discovering birds and their magical place in his young life, a story readers of all ages can relate to. Through his evolution to maturity-- his journey from Michigan, to southern California, the Pacific northwest, Manhattan, New Mexico and Asia- China, Korea - his writing becomes infused with Eastern thought and a sense of mysticism. A book for birders and serious readers of poetry alike.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I took an intense delight in these poems that carry you this way and that far from what you are, which is the duty of fine poetry, which is what this is." -- Jim Harrison

"We are spiritual animals. When we forget this essential truth, we invite calamity." -- Tom Crawford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890932404
  • Publisher: Asher, Sherman Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/7/2011
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Crawford is the author of five previous books of poetry, and the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, ForeWord Book of the Year, the Oregon Book Award for Poetry (Lauds), and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

Recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship (2002). National Book Award Finalist for My Story as Told by Water, 2001. Best known for his two best-selling novels, The River Why and The Brothers K. Both received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers award, Brothers K was the NY TIMES NOTABLE BOOK in 1992 & won a Best Books Award from the American Library Association.

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Read an Excerpt

WING

When I was eleven/
I found a black wing,/
just one wing,/
on our road./

I was a loner./
Shy. Afraid a lot./

For a long time/
I kept it in my pocket./

If I was really nervous/
I'd take it out/
and fan it open/
like a deck of cards./

Or I'd throw it up/
in the air like it was/
a whole bird/
when a flock/
of whistling/
blackbirds/
flew over./

The feathers/
glowed green,/
all ten of them/
if I held them/
up to the sun/
and turned it/
just right./

After a while/
I wore it/
around my neck,/
with a white string/
tied to the bone./

I'd only take it off/
when there was a bully/
around./

Then one day/
my dad looked/
at me,/
and told me/
I was making/
too much of it./

Where the water/
spilled over the weir/
in the canal/
behind our farm,/
I let it go. A swirl/
in the current/
by the bank caught/
the white string/
and my feather,/
pulling them out/
past the snake grass/
and into the fast water./

At the time/
it seemed alright/
to me./
The water/
was a comfort./
My wing/
was going/
somewhere/
I believed/
to a better life./

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