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Birds, in words.
I'm a devoted audience for our backyard's mockingbird residents and Carolina wren visitors.
But with a recent plunge into a stack of gift books, I'm enjoying an all-hours bird treat from the nationally loved and regionally created Anhinga Press.
St. Marks Refuge: Todd Bertolaet stalks the wild world with a 35mm panoramic camera
With Anhinga Press' "The Poets Guide To The Birds," at hand are nearly 200 poems of contemporary bird-watchers. The writers span our region's #850 valued poets such as Rick Campbell and Barbara Hamby, along with far-flung poets I've long-followed, such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.
Most birdwatching is bracketed by light and the lack of it. But vibrant word images from these beautiful and accessible poems are accompaniment to after-dinner dessert or a midnight snack. They can help soothe a 2 a.m. ache or enhance a pre-dawn cup of morning tea.
"Its Latin name troglodytes troglodytes/ is a mouthful for a little brown bird /that weighs less than the smallest piece/ in a heart-shaped box /of chocolates.' From "Winter Wren" by Sally Green.
For forest and field birders, know that quail, turkey and pheasant visit this volume, as do pileated woodpecker and the great, late ivorybill, lamented, fittingly, by Georgia-born, Van K. Brock, great poet, an Anhinga Press founder, who taught creative writing at FSU for three decades and is deeply missed by his many admirers.
My single ruffled feather about this volume?
It could be doubled in size. It's elegantly indexed in multiple ways, listing poems in geographic regions and by a specific winged friend. A bonus includes a giggle-worthy page on avian collective nouns.
How often have I patiently paused my car to enjoy Canada geese crossing a street, without knowing they can be thought of as a wedge of geese? (Not just gaggle!) Or that the multiple owls calling in our suburban woods form a parliament?
"The Poets Guide To The Birds," edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, 2009. Anhinga Press (anhingapress.org) PO Box 3665 Tallahassee Fl 32315.
Order through your favorite bookstore or anhingapress.org/about-our-books
Jan Godown Annino, MFA Hollins, former associate editor of The Tallahassee Democrat, wrote "What do to with a drifted stick in winter?" for a forthcoming 2022 chapbook of the MoSt Poetry Center (California.)
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Birds, in words: Anhinga Press lets poets preen in anthology