Poetry. Art. Carrie Green's STUDIES OF FAMILIAR BIRDS reflects upon the series of nest-and-egg illustrations that Virginia Jones saw to completion after her daughter, who had begun the project, died. The artist's loss in the late nineteenth century is presented in tandem with the poet's artistic response to the death of her own father. Other poems draw inspiration from altered vintage photographs in Sara Angelucci's Aviary series, or from firsthand observations of birds and humans. This collection, unique in subject and sensibility, is a special honoree of the 2019 Able Muse Book Award.
Carrie Green's poems are as exquisitely crafted as the nests they depict, honoring the delicacy of loss. STUDIES OF FAMILIAR BIRDS explores, through elegy, ekphrasis, and ode, the tender affections for family and nature. Whether it is the nineteenth-century egg-and-nest illustrations of Genevieve and Virginia Jones, the avid gaze upon commonplace birds, or the remembrance of the poet's own beloved father, this collection of poems creates an aviary of light. Green writes with such grace and skill that the reader can't help but feel both the ache of having lost and the joy of having loved. I will return to this book again and again as it 'teach es] us to sing our grief.'--Amy Fleury
Birds are the embodiment of freedom; unconstrained by terrestrial limitations, they lift effortlessly into the sky, forming a feathery link between Heaven and earth. People who have been visited by angels report they have bird wings. After losing her father to cancer, Carrie Green felt a kinship with Virginia Jones who endeavored to put her grief into concrete form by completing the drawings of nests and eggs for the book her daughter had just begun before she died in 1879. With words chosen as carefully as birds select components for a nest, STUDIES OF FAMILIAR BIRDS masterfully intertwines Carrie's insight into Virginia's griefwork with memories of her father and descriptions of altered photographs from Sara Angelucci's Aviary series, which merges images of endangered birds with anonymous nineteenth-century portraits.--Joy M. Kiser
We associate poets with birds: they mourn, call, cry, warn, and fly to places the gravity-bound human body can only follow with ear, eye, and heart. Weaving accounts of winged things into unique receptacles for grief and praise 'But surely we all know/ this nest. We've found it/ in our coffee cans, / in our barns and privies-/ inside all our little caves/ of emptiness, mundane as pockets/ or a child's boot forgotten/ by the back door, ' Green resists the temptation to anthropomorphize, honoring in her animal subjects their inimitable features, instincts, capacities, and wildness. Her archive is the warp and weft of the world's remnants, 'whether/ silk or weed stem, / velvet or vine, ' garnering from them wisdom on how to survive life's losses and to sing despite them.--Lisa Russ Spaar.