Wednesday 15 February 2012

Birds Nobody Loves by James Brush

I was delighted to receive my review copy of Birds Nobody Loves - A book of vultures and grackles by James Brush. It is a beautiful looking book with a striking black and white picture of a grackle on the front. Inside is a selection of excellent poetry about these two types of misunderstood birds along with more black and white illustrations.

The poetry is well observed, here is someone who clearly watches birds carefully and has a way with words to describe them in striking ways. The poems show the more engaging sides of the birds and also comment more directly on people's hatred of them. This latter is particularly captured in the prose poem God Hates Grackles:

They / marched up and down the street outside the capitol / chanting verses from Leviticus about unclean birds.

While in the haibun The Grackle Tree people are shooting grackles out of their tree because their droppings have landed on a car.

But many of these poems are full of the wonder of the birds:

Overhead turkey vultures soar
on steady outstretched wings
folding sky and letting it move
around and over them

from Summer Solstice

This poem captures the wonder of vultires in flight, while the character of the grackle is beautifully rendered in Grackle Ghazal:

I hang for hours on back porches, strumming
old guitars, swapping lies with folksy grackles.

There's also the understanding that vultures have an important role to play in ecology:

Now I understand
vultures too, are beautiful:
they clean our messes.

from Patton's Army

and in Lines Discovered in an Aging Ornithologist's Field Journal, the narrator asks, when he dies, to be left by the highway for the vultures to find him so that he could:

finally fly on dusky wings

buried in the sky.

By the end of this book, I'm sure that grackles and vultures will no longer be birds nobody loves, but birds that fascinate and intrigue!

James Brush blogs at Coyote Mercury, where you can find out how to order a copy of Birds Nobody Loves.

I'm delighted that two of the poems in this book, Good Authority and My Tourist Yard appeared first on Bolts of Silk, you can read them here.

Reviewed for Brighton Blogger's 2012 Reading Challenge.

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.


Cuby said...

Such very interesting snap shots of some of the poetry in this new book. Might see if I can find a copy somewhere as the title intrigues.

Ms Sparrow said...

The nastiest birds we have in Minnesota are the blue jays and crows. They steal chicks from other bird's nests and eat them. The blue jays are a really striking bird but very noisy and aggressive, even noisier than the crows. I'm rather fond of crows because they're so intelligent. We have grackles but they aren't nearly as awful as blue jays. I have never seen a turkey vulture although they are native to this area. I don't believe I would ever be moved to write a poem about them!

shoreacres said...

Oh, my! I love the blue jays! They are intelligent as can be, friendly and terrifically musical at times. Their calls are so varied, and they are fun to listen to when communicating with one another. When "mine" are ready for breakfast, they call from over a block away, in woods on the other side of the buildilngs. By the time I get up and put out their pecans, they come swinging it, get their nuts and eat before the pigeons figure out what's going on!

My gripe is the pigeons! They're like little feathered vacuum cleaners - I can't afford to keep them in seed!

RG said...

Grackles - yes. Vultures - uh, I don't know!

Carol Steel said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. There is beauty in "ugliness"; we have to adjust our perceptions.