Birds Of Tifft by Jonathan Skinner 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Jonathan Skinner
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Birds Of Tifft by Jonathan Skinner
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Jonathan Skinner
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At once rigorous and casual, conceptual and hilarious, Birds of Tifft offers us a tour through a nature preserve reclaimed from industry. Sometimes our guide reads Tifft like an old-school naturalist, identifying flora and fauna and noting the weather; sometimes he reads it like a contemporary poet, delighting in the visual beauties and ethical ironies of a post-industrial landscape. Ultimately, however, our guide demonstrates that ecopoetics gains its power from inhabiting both positions at once. By neither idealizing nature nor demonizing industry, he shows us our own equal participation in both, and thereby animates a dialectic between “the bittern and the train/the tulip and the dump.” Inviting us to think through our own participation in conjunctions such as these, Skinner enacts an innovative and deeply poethical practice—in these poems, “proportion’s restored/to think with others.” —Brian Teare, author of Sight Map In the Tifft refuge’s richly complicated landscapes, migratory and stationary, invasive and native, feathered and biped beings entwine in delicate harmonies and counterbalances. Jonathan Skinner finds in this transforming terrain the language to dissolve or suspend perceived separations of human and nature, a “solution” of words. —Marcella Durand , author of Traffic & Weather The place is “between the marsh and the railyard,” a gap in the everyday story of landscape, and in Birds of Tifft Jonathan Skinner has gone, light-bearing, into that—not to fill it or mend it but prayerfully and to “stare and stare” and, perhaps, to claim a Prerogative for the space and its multiplicity and, of course, its birds; and to trouble as well the prerogatives of the starer, the voice in the cold—“I probably saw nothing,” he writes near the close, after a brilliantly seen book rife with its “disassembling and regrouping/ cloud of blackbirds,” with its pictographs, with the damned Mariner’s “still and awful red” (not to mention the ever-recurring muskrats—“the Civet scented Musquash”—and not to mention either the birdsongs in transcription or Skinner's precise language of record). A gap? This book ranges through the confines of Tifft Farm, comes to the understanding of how “matter’s stutter/ undoes the body” and, so-doing, opens ways onto the world. —C. S. Giscombe, author of Prairie Style

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