Thirteen Ways of Considering Black Birds: You can read now the text while listening to the narration and soundscape:
We are at lookout hoping to see whales on their way back to Antarctica, but the sky has collapsed, pale fur drifts onto grey felt. Instead, we are astonished by a staccato call drawing to piping and whistling. The word joy often accompanies birdsong. An unknown bird, a novelty, a mystery.
The work was triggered by hearing a birdsong we couldn’t place while looking for whales in Gumbaynggirr Country. You can hear the birdsong in track 1.
This audio work is a riposte to Wallace Stevens’ abstracted poetry and his poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’.
Gary Snyder began his poem ‘What You Should Know to be a Poet’, with:
all you can about animals as persons
the names of trees and flowers and weeds
names of stars . . .’ And I’d add, birds.
Intervening with Nature
‘Picture this, a cute baby penguin, blown down a gully during a fierce storm, with no escape. You’ve been filming the natural world for weeks, following this individual. You’ve invested in it, become interested in it, attached to it – would you be able to let it die, or would you want to save it? Well, while filming an episode of Dynasties, a BBC crew decided to intervene, causing controversy in the process. As noted by presenter David Attenborough at the end of the episode, intervention by film crews is ‘rare’.’ Louise Gentle [i]
I intervened to stop a Torresian Crow eat tin foil that once held a take-away chicken.
Louise Gentle notes, ‘to denounce the direct action of humans in this way would seem to ignore the alterations humans have already made to our environment. By destroying habitats, exploiting species, polluting the planet and introducing non-native species, humans have already caused destruction to the planet, and are the cause of the current extinction crisis.’
[i] Louise Gentle, ‘Dynasties: should nature documentary crews save the animals they film?’, The Conversation, November 29, 2018.