Jeff Hilson's Bird Bird

as spotted by Abena Sutherland

Parts of Jeff Hilson's Bird Bird project can be found at Pages and onedit, and here, in this looseleaf Gargoyle. Each poem is a paragraph with the title of a bird, the bird always with a Latin name which doubles itself.

Apus Apus (swift)

Easily told around the houses and they went this way looking like quick and brown, the same as before only going. Going to a roding valley there to feel for the wrong bee. A fish carried forward in the hand, to soothe. There in time to motley. The head to lead to the circle. They fell down rhyming, lightly come, like a man at things in a wood. A poetry ring recent and wet. The point is outside and in, though scarcely so. Like scarcely weeping, or scarcely so. From town to form, from place to position. Or grazing on each other they work the suburb to a thin.
"Easily told around the houses..." could apply directly to swifts, but these lines give momentum to a rhythm which carries "swifts" through the jumps and notations. Several elements remind me of Gertrude Stein, in many of the poems and here beginning with "the same as before only going." A tender portrait of a species in rhythm and sound, appearing as neat sentences? The triple use of "scarcely", the wit of town to form.

Each of the Bird Bird poems differs: some feature "I" which is perhaps the bird speaking ("It's May and I'm found out turned into a pie!"), at other times the poem resembles the notes of a bird-spotter in the field but hooked on automatic writing. Prose-poems for the nursery, "My rare men, soldiers, sailors, the king one." Domestic notes, "Must buy ham." Strange and charmingly unpleasant sexual references, "Under the tractor I shoved it in her hard but each take was spoiled by the king wren." What on earth has taxonomy unleashed this time? A curious singing: the doubles of Linnaeus multiplying their feathers.

2005, 6pp, £2, Gargoyle Editions

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