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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Celebrating Poetry Month

Air Date: Week of April 13, 2012

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A Horned Lark. (Photo: David Larson, Mass Audubon)

Susan Edwards Richmond reads her poem "Longspur in a Field of Larks."

Transcript

[MUSIC: Sun Ra “Fate In A Pleasant Mood” from Fate In A Pleasant Mood (Evidence Records 1990)]

GELLERMAN: One of the reasons we love radio, the pictures are terrific. And according to writer Susan Edwards Richmond, a poem can also be a portal to the mind’s eye.


Joppa Flats, a prime birdwatching area in MassAudubon's sanctuary at Newburyport MA. (Photo: Melissa Vokey, MassAudubon)

RICHMOND: Poetry is a very compressed form, it can capture a moment very precisely and concisely. Poetry can be very experiential, you want to invite the reader to experience the experience that you've had and to be drawn to the same, to an epiphany, it might not actually be the same conclusion or epiphany as you are in, but that you're not telling the reader what to think, you're drawing them in and letting them have your experience and having it for themselves.

GELLERMAN: Well, since April is National Poetry Month we’ve asked some bards to help us commemorate the craft and read from their work. Poet Susan Edwards Richmond offered us a flight of fancy.

RICHMOND: I love writing about birds. I write a lot about birds and their places and this particular place is Newburyport. A lot of birds come to winter in coastal Massachusetts that you don't really see the rest of the year, and that's true of these two species of birds, the Lapland Longspur and the Horned Lark. And we saw a field of Horned Larks and there was this one bird that was clearly not a Horned Lark. The Horned Lark does have these little tufts that looks like it has these little horns and it has a very black "V" on its chest. In the wintertime, the Longspur is very nondescript, it's kind of a buffy-colored. And in this poem I describe some of its markings that are just beginning to come into view, as it's the end of the season.


A Horned Lark. (Photo: David Larson, Mass Audubon)

Longspur in a Field with Larks

Won’t
distinguish himself, doesn’t
want to, is perfectly
content to be
whatever the situation
requires-would sprout
horns if he could.
Tumbling over this
invented tundra
after the seething,
rearranging texture of lemon
vests, darkling
Vs, he takes the low
drafts in the same
easy wheel, though more
timid; hides behind
one of two
white stones, scurries
to a slanted
slate,
descends
into scooped hollows
to shimmy shake sand
from his wings.
In another week, he won’t


Horned Larks Feeding in Winter.
(Photo: David Larson. Mass Audubon)

be able to hide
brown stripes
sharpening against
buff, the telltale throat’s
slow darkening,
chestnut blush already
coming up under the collar.
Wrong place, right
time, but soon,
where to? Rejoin his kind
on breeding fields
under high arctic
sun. Farewell
to the abetting
larks who remain
indifferent to his difference
until this winter sojourn
ends, and all true
colors are revealed.

[MUSIC: Omar Sosa “Walking Together” from Calma (OTA Records 2011)]

GELLERMAN: Susan Edwards Richmond reading her poem 'Longspur in a Field with Larks.” She's a founding member of
The Concord Poetry Center.

[MUSIC CONTINUES]

 

Links

Mass Audobon

Concord Poetry Center website

 

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