American Birds

A Literary Companion

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Pub Date 10 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 05 Aug 2020

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Description

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.
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...

Advance Praise

“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

“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...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781598536553
PRICE $24.95 (USD)
PAGES 270

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Average rating from 6 members


Featured Reviews

via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
𝘛ʜɪ𝘴 ɪ𝘴 ᴀ ᴡʀɪᴛᴇʀ’𝘴 ᴅɪʟᴇᴍᴍᴀ- ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴅʀᴀᴡɴ ᴛᴏ ᴇ𝘹ᴘᴇʀɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ʙᴜᴛ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ 𝘴ᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʀʏ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇ 𝘴ᴇɴ𝘴ᴇ ᴏғ ɪᴛ. 𝘉ᴜᴛ ᴡʀɪᴛɪɴɢ, ʟɪᴋᴇ ʙɪʀᴅ-ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜɪɴɢ, ʜᴀ𝘴 ᴜɴɪᴠᴇʀ𝘴ᴀʟ ʜᴜᴍᴀɴ ᴀᴘᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. -𝘑ᴏɴᴀᴛʜᴀɴ 𝘙ᴏ𝘴ᴇɴ, 𝘍ʀᴏᴍ 𝘛ʜᴇ 𝘓ɪғᴇ 𝘖ғ 𝘛ʜᴇ 𝘚ᴋɪᴇ𝘴 (2008)

I admit it, I’m a total bird nerd. I feed them, photograph them, spoil them. The hummingbirds take a special delight in harassing me for nectar which is changed often here in the hot Florida sun. Hawks, Screech Owls, Sandhill Cranes… we have so many birds in this part of Florida it’s a constant show in the sky and on the ground. It’s not unusual to look overhead as a hawk swoops by with a snake dangling in it’s talons, sometimes a fish… Two months ago on a morning walk I saw an eagle carrying it’s kill (a rabbit) which was quite a sight to see. We never spotted eagles in our area until recent years, nor were the bobcats so free with their company, less shy but where can they really hide anymore? With all the clearing of the wilderness it’s not so surprising that they hang around.

Naturally, this collection grabbed my attention being a gathering of writings from poetry to stories, musings and observations too as artists sketch our feathered friends. American Birds includes Lewis and Clark’s explorations and species discoveries as well as the important research of John James Audubon, a book about birds would feel incomplete without mention of him. For others, birds serve as divine messengers, portents… anyone whose little heart soars like a bird’s in their presence will enjoy this beautiful literary companion. Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Sterling A. Brown, Cornelius Eady, Mary Oliver, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich are just a handful of talent included in this book that share an enthusiasm for the creatures and have written about them. I have a special love for crows and ravens, and enjoyed Barry Lopez’s, The Raven (1976). This line, “The crow is very accommodating and he admires compulsiveness.” Couldn’t be more true!

Jonathan Rosen’s From The Life Of The Skies (2008) touched me, people really do consider bird watchers eccentric. I love all of nature, nothing is more relaxing then photographing animals in their natural habitat, and after-all what is man if not nature? Maybe we have cut ourselves off from it, being so ‘civilized’ in our cities and homes, but you can’t take nature out of man. I love the line Rosen shares from Walt Whitman, “we are both in and out of the game/ and watching and wondering at it.” I certainly feel that way. Yes, if you are a bird lover, this is a treasure- read it!

Published March 2020

Library of America

I shared photographs for fellow bird nerds alongside my blog review via: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/american-birds-a-literary-companion-by-andrew-rubenfeld-and-terry-tempest-williams-editors-library-of-america/

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Wonderful! What a rare treat! I thoroughly this book-everything about it. The poetry, the short vignettes, the bird stories, et al. I especially enjoyed the short story, "Answering the Call" by Rick Bass, Mary Oliver poetry, Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Sandburg-Purple Martins, Walt Whitman, Ogden Nash-all the heavyweights.
I am a big fan Of Terry Tempest Williams, so as soon as I saw her name as an Editor, I knew it would be an excellent book. I was not disappointed. Thank you SO much Net Galley and Library of America, for giving me the opportunity to read this nature collective of poetry and stories.

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Do you love birds? Do you love literature? Well good news, my friend - you get both in this book. This is a collection of stories and poems about birds from the last few centuries. It's a rare and amazing book, great for a gift to the bird lover in your life.

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