Madness / was madness, that’s all.
In the middle / of nowhere, it is just them / & how much they speak
Andrew Feld’s new book of poems, Raptors, revolves around his time working in a bird rehabilitation center in Oregon, where he learned to do things like “trim a golden eagle.” Last night at Open Books he explained that what drew him to write poems about raptors is that it’s such a rich metaphor, such a “flexible and generative emblem,” whether for the beloved, for the wilderness, or for the unknowable. “You have them, they’re domesticated, but you never have the slightest indication that they love you.” Feld read mostly out of the new book, but also shared one brand new, birdless poem, which he described as an obituary from the future: “Unsurprisingly, I’m writing a whole new series. I never seem to be capable of writing just one poem.”
To end the year we’re featuring W.S. Di Piero’s “Raven,” which appears in the current issue of Poetry Northwest. “Years ago I read the opening phrase in a field guide’s description of a raven,” says Di Piero, ” and it stuck with me: ‘Big black bird.’ I see ravens out my window every day and appreciate their don’t-mess-with-me posture and gliding maneuvers. (Crows don’t glide.) Apparent monochromatic blackness with endless flashing inflections — that’s one definition of good style. They have no songfulness, just a marvelous variety of noises and calls, which recommends them to poetry but not to pretty poetry. “Most of my books contain a poem about a bird, none from a birdbrain’s consciousness, though: they all in some way are about hunger, appetite, or aspiration that sounds like fury.” Raven Ratso pigeons strictly for the birds. Morning vocalizing to settle one’s nerves. Practice makes perfect. Hello high wire art, and come back O red-tail youth. Upstart. Hair bulbs down there. Feed and need. Sunshine so justified upon my wings and I sing …