Birds and Poems
with Simmons Buntin and Eric Magrane
Mondays, February 28 through April 4, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
except no class meeting on March 14
plus a field trip on Saturday, April 2, 7:00 am to 11:00 a.m.
Tuition: $150 + $10 materials/field trip fee
Both birding and poetry are great practice in patience and close sensory attention. Trying to spot a warbler flitting along leafy branches is a lot like trying to find the right word, shape, or space for a poem. Some poems are like the cactus wren, building a nest among the sharp spines of the cholla; some poems are little balls of energy zipping along like the broad-billed hummingbird; some poems are blown off course during migration and show up where you least expect.
In this class we’ll explore the intersections of the poetic and avian worlds. We’ll dedicate half of our time to reading and discussing poems of and about birds, drawing on the long history of birds in poetry as well as contemporary work, and we’ll spend the rest of our time on poetry-writing exercises and workshopping of student poems. One class will be held in the field on a birding trip. This class is open to poets and birders of all skill levels.
Simmons B. Buntin is the author of two collections of poems: Bloom (Salmon Poetry, 2010) and Riverfall (Salmon Poetry, 2005). He is also the editor of Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments, an award-winning online journal publishing since 1998. His favorite bird is the great blue heron, or an indigo bunting, or the roadrunner, or the rose-breasted grosbeak, or….
Eric Magrane’s poetry has most recently appeared in Tygerburning, Back Room Live, Plume Zine, and EOAGH. He is also the editor of Spiral Orb, an experiment in permaculture poetics. A naturalist and birder, in his day job he is a Senior Hiking Guide and Staff Naturalist for Canyon Ranch.
And here’s one of my bird poems:
This is music, he said,
and his voice climbed
the thin ladder of air
like a cat chases moths,
the river desperate
in flood—his chest filling
with the thick
liquid of song. This
is music: not so much
the silver-chorded calls
or the silent intervals
of indigo flash
between yellowgreen limbs,
but the complete cessation:
the wind, the river, the earth’s
among its fiery teeth
to hear this simple song.