Featuring some of America's greatest writers and poets, this landmark anthology is a one-of-a-kind field guide to the American literary imagination.
Americans have always been fascinated by birds and from the beginning American writers have captured this keen interest in a variety of genres: poems, journals, memoirs, short stories, essays, and travel accounts. Here literature professor and avid birder Andrew Rubenfeld, in collaboration with acclaimed writer Terry Tempest Williams, who provides a foreword, gathers evocative and surprising writings on birds and our fascination with them from an astonishing array of American poets and writers. The result is a literature of singular depth and beauty, with occasional flights of fancy in the mix.
Experience the exquisite beauty of Native American songs about birds. Accompany Lewis and Clark as they encounter new species, Audubon as he sketches near New Orleans, and Emerson and Thoreau birding together around Walden Pond. Delight in Sarah Orne Jewett’s poignant tale of a snowy egret in the Maine woods and Florence Merriam’s portrait of a winter wren in Central Park. Join Rachel Carson as she watches skimmers along the Atlantic coast and Roger Tory Peterson observing snail kites in the Everglades. And thrill to an impressive roster of modern and contemporary poets, including Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Sterling A. Brown, Cornelius Eady, Mary Oliver, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich, and David Tomas Martinez, as they evoke the magic and haunting beauty of America’s birds.
About the Author
ANDREW RUBENFELD is professor of literature at Stevens Institute of Technology where he teaches courses on American nature and environmental writing. He has served as president of the Linnaean Society of New York, the nation’s second oldest ornithological and conservation organization, and is a founding member of the Birders’ Coalition for Gateway, to restore the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge following Hurricane Sandy.
TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS is the award-winning author of numerous books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, When Women Were Birds, and Erosion: Essays of Undoing. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is currently the Writer-in-Residence at the Harvard Divinity School, dividing her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Castle Valley, Utah.
"Beyond singsong delight, the pieces provide a fascinating index of the development of American literature through the centuries: why, one might ask, might authors now find birds a subject more fit for poetry than prose, where two centuries ago the opposite was true? In any case, the volume demonstrates that delight can come in small packages." —The New Criterion
“Evocative and absorbing. . . . All who read it will find their own favorites among the 74 appealing selections and will marvel at the many different ways to see, think about, describe, and cherish birds and their place in our lives.” —The Urban Audubon
“An exquisite compendium celebrating America’s ornithological obsession.” —Kirkus Reviews