Bird of Paradise

George Young

Bird of Paradise by George Young (Parallel Press, 2011) is a poetry collection about birds: the urge to watch them through binoculars and to find their pictures and names in a field guide, the urge to describe them in poetry.

For Mr. Young, “birds represent the mysterious ‘other,’ inhabiting an alternate universe invisible to most of us until we look for it. Their existence on this earth is bound up with mine.”

The lines in Mr. Young’s poems dance and flutter across the pages, not unlike the avian subjects of his poetry. From “The Others:”

In the interstices of our world / (vacant lots, ditch-banks, the sad elms / in cemeteries) / they flit / and flicker, search for their spider eggs, / their wild grass seeds. / They are here!

Poetry and bird life are interconnected, inseparable. From “Wings:”

A poem is not a bird until it flies in the mind.

George Young is a retired physician living in Boulder, Colorado. His first book of poems, Spinoza’s Mouse, won the Washington Prize and was published by Word Works. He had one other chapbook of poems, Creating the Universe, published by Perivale Press and has been in a number of anthologies of poetry by physicians: Uncharted Lines, Blood and Bone, and Primary Care: More Poems by Physicians; as well as two other anthologies: Winners: A Retrospective of the Washington Prize, and Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams.

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A poem is not a bird until it flies in the mind.
And a poem about wonder may not fly at all
if the mind is weakened by sickness, cold, lack of love, hunger.
It may just crouch down with the frost-
ruined daffodils by the fence.
Yet wonder is sometimes the last thing to go.
Take a pale-purple, freezing evening in December
when an old man, near the end, in Central Park, looks up
and sees a Great Blue Heron lift off from the icy reeds
and flap away through the black bones of bare trees.