Friday Poetry with Jeredith Merrin: Owling

Jeredith Merrin: Owling
Jeredith Merrin

The author of Cup, a special selection by X.J. Kennedy for the Able Muse Book Award, reads from her latest poetry collection, which won the 2016 Grayson Books Chapbook competition.

Followed by an open reading.

Jeredith describes her book as follows:
"The naturalist John Muir wrote: 'When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.' In my new chapbook project, each Owl species is observed/described for its own sake, and each species also 'hitches' to something else, some set of human behaviors or concerns. Each owl–who knows how these things happen?–has led me somewhere I didn't know I was going and has suggested its own form. I have always been interested in natural history as well as psychology, and would like to think this has resulted in an outward- as well as inward-looking poetry."

Below is one of the poems from Owling:

The Maned Owl (Jubula lettii: classified [2013] as "Data Deficient" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature)
About the maned owl
there is little to tell
because little is known.
It gets its leonine name
from bushy, face-framing
ear tufts. It lives
in Gambon, Cameroon,
Liberia, the Congo
(in what numbers we don't know),
in closed-canopy rainforest.
Its habits are secretive
and nocturnal. Presumably,
given heavy lumbering,
its survival's at risk.
About reproduction and diet,
information is scant.
Its call may be
(we're not sure)
a low, dove-like coo.
As is the case with
the wide coral reefs,
or with each creature's
closed-canopy mind,
or with almost anyone's
mother or father,
too little is known about them.
And then they're gone.

JEREDITH MERRIN—brought up in the Pacific Northwest—took her MA in English (specializing in Chaucer), and a PhD from UC Berkeley in Anglo-American Poetry and Poetics. Cup, a special honoree in the 2013 Able Muse Book Award, is her third collection; her previous books are Shift and Bat Ode (University of Chicago Press Phoenix Poets series). She's authored an influential book of criticism on Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop. Her reviews and essays (on Moore, Bishop, Clare, Mew, Amichai, and others), and poems have appeared in Paris Review, Slate, Ploughshares, Southwest Review, Yale Review and elsewhere. A retired Professor of English (The Ohio State University), Merrin lives near Phoenix.