“I like drawing because it’s immediate — it hits us faster than prose writing. And I like pairing writing with images; you can get a sense of the background space and scene — stuff that wouldn’t necessarily move the narrative forward in standalone prose writing.”
“I suppose I realized I was working toward a book when I asked myself, How close can you get to an extinct bird? And then, I set out to try. My journey of combing through museums and specimen drawers was what ultimately spurred the longer narrative. Once I held an extinct bird skin in my hands, I knew I had to start sounding some alarms about our own environmental crises.”
Adrienne Rich once said that poetry is “liberative language, connecting the fragments within us, connecting us to others like and unlike ourselves,” and whether or not that’s true, I’ve found that her work does have something to tell us about the fragmented individual and the collective whole—not just historically, but in the context of today’s muted urgencies, within the mutual ruin of the Anthropocene.
Europe was crawling with adulterous couples. Mostly, for some reason, one saw them at ruins, respectfully tripping over the archeological rubble. Just like regular tourists they seemed to be under some terrible strain, but unlike regular tourists they hardly looked at anything, so that when, say, a lizard streaked across their path, they’d jump and fall into each other with apologetic smiles, more like awkward teenagers than adults risking the forbidden.
We saw her for the last time in 1944—frantic, wild-eyed, twitching about in her tree. Or rather, 23-year-old wildlife artist Don Eckelberry saw her, having traveled south to Louisiana’s Singer Tract to sketch America’s last Ivory-billed Woodpecker. It was a less than ideal situation. After all, National Audubon Society president John Baker would have much preferred to have found a way to save the bird rather than dispatch a man to sketch her. However, after negotiations with the Chicago Lumber Company broke down (“We are just money grubbers,” the company’s chairman allegedly said), Baker wasn’t left with much of a choice. Since the land couldn’t be spared (and by extension, the bird), Baker sent Eckelberry south in the hopes the artist might preserve her image.