|Birds and Poetry||Upstream Interpretaion Home|
|Birds live in poetry, as themselves
and as metaphors, in as astounding a profusion and diversity as in
life. Sample different styles and subjects, and think about how you can
use your imagination to read and write poetry to enhance your own
appreciation of the world around us. Educators and interpreters may
incorporate writing poems into programs specific to birds or more
general language and science in a variety of ways.
||Developed as a workshop session for the
Chicago Wilderness Wild Things Conference, March 5, 2011
Birds & Poetry, Wild Things, March 2011 (Examples are in the power point copy)
A good way to start a writing session (J. Bruchac in Alphabet of the Trees)
2. Why are we doing this?
All poetry is communication – who are you writing for?
Yourself? for observation and self-discovery, but may be limiting
Define an imaginary reader (Kooser, Poetry Home Repair Manual)
3. Poems are triggered by bits of language, glimpses of life; ideas emerge whether
intended or not (Kooser)
Essential details, no spare parts
Don’t be intimidated, but much to gain from learning form and tradition
4. Why Birds?
All the wonders of birds, all the benefits of observing, journals etc.
Many famous bird poems, Bright Wings anthology
features less well known.
The Oven Bird – Frost
There is a LOT going on here, but don’t fret about it
Meanings are clear enough, but you may find different at new reading
Beware of over analysis: “What is the poet trying to say?” as if you can’t hear
5. How we use poems
Discovery – See things as if for the first time –
What if you’d never seen or heard a cardinal?
Description and metaphor – examples in the power point from T. Gannon, J.
Kerouac, R. Hass and myself
Communicate! many audiences, many messages
cinquain – the “English class” form vs. the syllable count form
acrostic or alphabet poems – first letters, etc.
shape - concrete poetry –Snyder
7. Detail – observation
The most effective poems are not likely from sweeping panorama but from close
observation of detail.
“Be one of those on whom nothing is lost,”
Each participant contributes an observation words or short phrase about the
cardinal – or your memory of a cardinal
Take as much from the audience as possible, then do a group exercise to assemble
into a rough draft poem
Keep a journal, and use it!
Some exercise ideas you might try:
Copy descriptions from books, field guides, other sources, cut them into pieces
and reassemble into a poem
Become the bird – write from the bird’s perspective, maybe as it might speak to
Make a list of everything about a bird, all the birds in this area (or any other topic)
– this is to focus on detail first, idea later
Deck: Collect your own interesting or useful words, play with rearranging them
(your own “magnetic poetry”)
Cut up, in a group, is like “deck” done quickly
List poems work as a group exercise
Circle poem, put words on a circle, draw lines to connect, write about each
connection and then assemble
Chant: “I am the owl…
I am the owl that… (hunts by night, sees well in the dark
Questions: usual W W W W W, but also How, What if, Does it, Is it true?
(See especially The Practice of Poetry for exercise ideas.)
What is the definition of a good poem?
“One I like.” – Howard Moss
Why does it matter?
Mary Oliver quote
Be Like the Bird – Victor Hugo
John M. Elliott, Education Manager, FPDCC
Behn, Robin and Chase Twichell, The Practice of Poetry, Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, HarperCollins, 1992
Collins, Billy, Editor and David Allen Sibley, Illustrator, Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, Columbia University Press, 2009
Higginson, William J., Jane Reichhold and Penny Harter, The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Teach and Appreciate Haiku, Kodansha International; 25 Anv edition, 2010
Koch, Kenneth and Kate Farrell, Sleeping on the Wing, An Anthology of Modern Poetry with Essays on Reading and Writing, Random House, 1981
Kooser, Ted, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, University of Nebraska Press, 2005
Mayes, Frances, The Discovery of Poetry, A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems, Harcourt, 2001
McClatchy, J. D., Editor, On Wings of Song: Poems About Birds, Everyman's Library, 2000
McEwen, Christian and Mark Statman, The Alphabet of the Trees, A Guide to Nature Writing, Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 2000
Nelson, Dylan and Kent Nelson, editors, Birds in the Hand, Fiction and Poetry About Birds, North Point Press, 2004
Paschen, Elise and Rebecca Presson Mosby, editors, Poetry Speaks, Sourcebooks, 2001
Parini, Jay, Why Poetry Matters, Caravan Books, 2008
Timpane, John PhD with Maureen Watts, Poetry for Dummies, Wiley Publishing Inc., 2001
About what it says it is.
Tom Gannon’s Cool Bird Poems
Huge anthology of poetry
Poetry Through the Ages.
An Expressive Journey: forms, writing, etc
Jane Reichold’s World of Poetry
Short forms, especially haiku, lots on writing