Cover image for Birds in the hand : fiction and poetry about birds
Birds in the hand : fiction and poetry about birds
Nelson, Dylan.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : North Point Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
xvi, 374 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS509.B5 B57 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A unique anthology of avian literature From the myths of ancient Greece to the fables of Aesop, from Chaucer to contemporary poetry and fiction, birds are central to literature because they connect us intimately to the natural world. Whether we watch birds at our feeders, travel vast distances to identify rare species, or simply pause in a busy day to listen to the coo of a dove or the trill of a warbler, birds sustain us. Birds in the Hand is a collection of contemporary fiction and poetry that explores the complex, often startling ways in which birds shed light upon our lives. In work from a diverse and celebrated group of contemporary authors such as Charles Baxter, T.C. Boyle, Jim Harrison, Flannery O'Connor, Pattiann Rogers, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Ethan Canin, and Jorie Graham, birds are sources of inspiration, confrontation, and revelation. These stories and poems take us from New York and Hoboken to the Salton Sea and the wilds of Montana, from a hardware store to the westernmost Aleutian island, from a prison to marshes, forests, and seacoasts. Field guides and natural history books cannot capture the essence of why birds thrill us. Birds in the Hand uses the vitality and nuance of fiction and poetry to get at the heart of our mysterious sense of birds and the way they can reflect the brightest and darkest aspects of our own natures.

Author Notes

Kent Nelson and Dylan Nelson are father and daughter and have birded together for the past thirty years. Kent lives in Salida, Colorado. Dylan's bird stories have won several prizes. She lives in Los Angeles



  Birds in the Hand LI-YOUNG LEE Praise Them The birds don't alter space. They reveal it. The sky never fills with any leftover flying. They leave nothing to trace. It is our own astonishment collects in chill air. Be glad. They equal their due moment never begging, and enter ours without parting day. See how three birds in a winter tree make the tree barer. Two fly away, and new rooms open in December. Give up what you guessed about a whirring heart, the little beaks and claws, their constant hunger. We're the nervous ones. If even one of our violent number could be gentle long enough that one of them found it safe inside our finally untroubled and untroubling gaze, who wouldn't hear what singing completes us? Copyright (c) 2004 by Dylan Nelson and Kent Nelson Excerpted from Birds in the Hand: Fiction and Poetry about Birds All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Li-Young LeeLeslie NorrisEthan CaninPattiann RogersRobert HassRobert Hill LongR. T. SmithDavid WagonerRobert Olen ButlerJoel BrouwerDavid BottomsAlbert GoldbarthWilliam MeredithSheri JosephBarbara KingsolverCharles BaxterSherman AlexieJoy HarjoMartha SilanoElizabeth BishopHayden CarruthHoward NormanAndrea BarrettGreg PapeBilly CollinsWilliam HathawayPhilip LevineT. C. BoyleJohn L'HeureuxKathleen LynchW. D. SnodgrassChase TwichellKim AddonizioPaul ZarzyskiFlannery O'ConnorEudora WeltyRichard JacksonJan Epton SealeLouise ErdrichRobert Penn WarrenPeter MeinkeMaximilian SchlaksWilliam ArchilaDaisy FriedJorie GrahamRita DoveRobert DanaGladys SwanKellie WellsWendell BerryBrendan GalvinRichard FoersterMacklin SmithStanley PlumlyJim HarrisonTim GautreauxSarah GettyB. J. BuckleyMaxine KuminAndrew HudginsRichard WilburBarry LopezMaya SonenbergAmy ClampittJames WrightSeamus HeaneyWilliam WentheReginald GibbonsMark HelprinDerek Walcott
Prefacep. xi
Praise Themp. 3
The Kingfisherp. 4
Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrathp. 10
The Hummingbird: A Seductionp. 19
Duck Blindp. 21
The White Ibisp. 22
Hardware Sparrowsp. 24
The Bird Watcherp. 26
Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrotp. 38
Abracadabra Kitp. 45
Under the Vulture-Treep. 47
27,000 Milesp. 48
The Jain Bird Hospital in Delhip. 49
The Elixirp. 51
from Prodigal Summerp. 56
Cataractp. 59
How to Obtain Eagle Feathers for Religious Usep. 76
Eagle Poemp. 79
At the Shorebird Festival: Grays Harbor County, Washingtonp. 80
North Havenp. 82
The Birds of Vietnamp. 84
from The Bird Artistp. 86
Birds with No Feetp. 99
Flamingosp. 117
Driving Myself to a Poetry Readingp. 119
The Bird Feederp. 120
The Sea We Read Aboutp. 122
Rara Avisp. 124
Flightp. 129
How to Build an Owlp. 135
A Phoebe's Nestp. 136
Corporate Geesep. 139
The Singingp. 142
Bizarzyski, Mad Bard, Carpenter Savant, and Chuckwagon Wrangler of Manchester, Montana, Feeds the Finicky Birdsp. 143
The Turkeyp. 145
A Still Momentp. 157
Worlds Apartp. 170
Big Bird Comes to the Rio Grande Valley in 1976p. 172
Owlsp. 174
Heart of Autumnp. 176
The Cranesp. 177
A Long Sundayp. 180
Birdp. 196
Gutsp. 199
Detail from the Creation of Manp. 200
Against Flightp. 205
Watching the Nighthawk's Divep. 207
Dreaming Crowp. 209
Transmigrationsp. 226
The Heronp. 240
One for the Life Listp. 241
The Hohntorp. 243
Birding the Battle of Attup. 245
Cedar Waxwing on Scarlet Firethornp. 247
from Farmerp. 249
Little Frogs in a Ditchp. 254
That Womanp. 277
In June, In Summerp. 279
Bringing Down the Birdsp. 281
Raven Daysp. 283
The Writerp. 284
Emory Bear Hands' Birdsp. 286
Beyond Meccap. 294
A Hermit Thrushp. 314
The Quailp. 317
Drifting Offp. 319
Birds of Hobokenp. 321
No Matter What Has Happened This Mayp. 323
A Dove of the Eastp. 325
The Season of Phantasmal Peacep. 358
Contributors' Notesp. 361