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Sitka News

Remembering Tom Crawford

Past Sitka Artist-in-Resident, Tom Crawford, poet and teacher, died on May 29, 2018. Tom was the author of nine books of poetry, including Lauds, The Temple on Monday, The Names of Birds, and Caging the Robin. He was the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, Foreword Book of the Year, and the Oregon Book Award, among others; Fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. His creative spirit will be missed.

Here is a quote from Tom's prose that seems central to his work, “…It’s the human spirit that’s in decline. It’s our loss of wonder, our disconnect from the planet that endangers life. A great raven peers down as it floats over our heads, black wing feathers shining. To fail to peer back is to forsake what humans and ravens are meant to be.” 

How to Draw a Better Bird

Festival Workshop at Lake Almoner

by Tom Crawford

Resist eloquence.  Get mad.

If your bird is the snowy Clark’s Grebe,

if that’s your bird, the one out there

sitting on its eggs in a floating nest - stunning bird,

serene bird-if that’s all you see, then it’s no good.

You might just as well take your iPhone out,

take a picture for Audubon.  That’s not a better bird.

Better you try to draw the bird almost gone,

banging its wings against your heart.

Scare us.  Make it real, like an eraser big as a house.

What you feel knowing the bird’s clutch

will never hatch.  End of a colony.

Gone bird.

Our lives, once a wetland,

drained, is the bird you want to draw.

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