The Bird-while

The Bird-while

by Keith Taylor

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Overview

"A Bird-while. In a natural chronometer, a Bird-while may be admitted as one of the metres, since the space most of the wild birds will allow you to make your observations on them when they alight near you in the woods, is a pretty equal and familiar measure" (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal, 1838). Without becoming didactic or pedantic about the spiritual metaphor hidden in the concept of the "bird-while," Keith Taylor’s collection evokes certain Eastern meditative poets who often wrote in an aphoristic style of the spirit or the mind mirroring specific aspects of the natural world.

The Bird-while is a collection of forty-nine poems that meditate on the nature—both human and non-human—that surrounds us daily. Taylor is in the company of naturalist poets such as Gary Snyder and Mary Oliver—poets who often drew from an Emersonian sensibility to create art that awakens the mind to its corresponding truths in the natural world. The book ranges from the longer poem to the eight line, unrhymed stanza similar to that of the T'ang poet Han-Shan. And without section breaks to reinforce the passing of time, the collection creates greater fluidity of movement from one poem to the next, as if there is no beginning or end, only an eternal moment that is suspended on the page. Tom Pohrt’s original illustrations are scattered throughout the text, adding a stunning visual element to the already vivid language. The book moves from the author’s travel accounts to the destruction of the natural world, even species extinction, to more hopeful poems of survival and the return of wildness. The natural rhythm is at times marred by the disturbances of the twenty-first century that come blaring into these meditations, as when a National Guard jet rumbles over the treeline upsetting a hummingbird, and yet, even the hummingbird is able to regain its balance and continue as before. At its core, Taylor’s collection is a reminder of Emerson’s idea that natural facts are symbols of spiritual facts.

These well-crafted poems will be easily accessible to any literary audience, with a more particular attraction to readers of contemporary poetry sensitive to the marriage of an Eastern sensibility with contemporary American settings and scenes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814342404
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Publication date: 02/06/2017
Series: Made in Michigan Writers Series
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 259,568
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Keith Taylor teaches at the University of Michigan. He has published many books over the years: collections of poetry, a collection of very short stories, co-edited volumes of essays and fiction, and a volume of poetry translated from Modern Greek.

Tom Pohrt is a self-taught artist who has illustrated numerous books including The New York Times bestseller Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez. He recently illustrated Terrapin and Other Poems by Wendell Berry and Careless Rambles, a selection of poems by John Clare. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Table of Contents

Picasso and the Taj Mahal 1

The Collections in London 2

Banff: Running-Away 3

Hitchhiking and Immortality 4

At the Flower Merchant's in Toulouse 5

South of Toulouse: Snow 6

The Criticism, of My French Poems 7

My Daughter's Narcolepsy 8

When the Girls Arrived in Copenhagen 9

After She Was Sick 10

Bharatpur: Dying Antelope 11

A Return 13

Mapping the River 14

Stone Tools 17

The Day the Trees Came Down 18

Circle in the Wind 21

Sea and Rain: Lake Michigan 24

Reading Late 25

Chasing the Ancient Murrelet 26

Castle, Nowhere 29

One Species to Mourn 30

The Last Roost 34

Drummond Island Fossils 35

Statue of the Blind Girl 36

Prairie Fire 37

No One Dared Call It Beautiful 38

Later 39

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes 40

Landscape of Fear 41

In the Presence of Large Predators 42

Sign 43

The Hybrid at Burt Lake 44

All I'm Trying to Do 45

After Goya's Dream 46

Banff: Running Away Ducks 47

Bird Rescue 49

The Weaver 51

A Ruby-throated Humming-bird Triptych 52

Bay of Islands: Attacked by Oystercatchers 54

The Gardener Remembers 55

Marginalia for a Natural History 59

Kingston Plains: The Ghost Forest 67

Summer Teaching 68

Schumann, While Driving 69

Our Castle and the Wild Dogs 70

To Face the Ordinary 71

Argument with Emily: Amber Afternoons 72

Winter Finches 73

Acolytes in the Bird-while 74

Acknowledgments 77

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