The Poetry of Birds & The Legend of Pale Male

poetry of birds

Thanks to the generosity (and imagination!) of a Land Library supporter, a few times each year we receive a shipment from an English bookseller. As you can imagine, we’re always excited to open a well-traveled box of new and used books, containing treasures we have never before seen, this side of the Atlantic.

In the middle of National Poetry Month, we wanted to sing the praises of one very special book from the UK — The Poetry of Birds, edited by Simon Armitage and Tim Dee. What a wonderful anthology!

The editors have arranged their collection by bird type, not poet. There’s Sylvia Plath on the shrike, Elizabeth Bishop on the sandpiper, Robinson Jeffers on hawks, John Ashberry on orioles, W.S. Merwin on crows, Edward Thomas on lapwings, Kathleen Jamie on the dipper, and Wallace Stevens on the red-winged blackbird. There’s certainly a wide range of birds written about in this 384-page collection, and just of few of the other featured poets include Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Charles Simic, Marianne Moore, Paul Muldoon, Alice Oswald, John Clare, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and many, many more.

Here’s a very fun link to The Guardian, which lists Simon Armitage and Tim Dee’s Top 10 Bird Poems, starting with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ The Windhover: ” a poem that enacts as well as describes, as if Hopkins were channelling a kestrel hovering 100 feet up in the wind; it is mind-blowing no matter how many times you read it.

And for all you bird-lovers out there — and come to think of it — all you poetry-lovers, now’s the time to get your tickets for the Colorado premiere of the award-winning film, The Legend of Pale Male!

movie posterbloomsbury cover

The Land Library is proud to be a co-sponsor of this benefit screening for The Bloomsbury Review, a national literary treasure that has been celebrating and promoting great writing since 1980. We’ll be celebrating two legends that night — The Bloomsbury Review, as it launches into its next chapter, and Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk of Central Park, now courting his eighth mate somewhere over midtown Manhattan!

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday, April 27th, 6:30pm at Denver’s Montview Presbyterian Church

For more information on the April 27th premiere, call 303-455-3123, or 800-783-3338, or visit The Bloomsbury Review website!

We hope you enjoy this inspiring film clip!

Brilliant!

larger butterfliesnature tales

We’re excited! Once again, through the kind donation of a very thoughtful Land Library supporter, we have just received a fresh batch of brilliant British nature books. It’s like walking into your local bookstore with every book brand new to your eyes.

Here’s one of our favorites: Patrick Barkham’s The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals (pictured above). In the grand tradition of a birder’s Big Year, Barkham sets out over the course of a single summer to discover how many British butterflies he can see. Along the way, he paints a vivid portrait of the admirable and eccentric butterfly collectors of the past, not to mention those he meets on the road. Margaret Drabble loved this book, commenting that “readers will be astonished by details of the teeming natural world that we so blindly inhabit.”

Another unique addition to the Land Library’s shelves is also pictured above, Nature Tales: Encounters with Britain’s Wildlife, edited by Michael Allen & Sonya Patel Ellis. This thoughtful anthology gathers together most of Britain’s leading writers and naturalists. Here’s just a few: Charles Darwin, Charles Waterton, Colin Tudge, Dorothy Wordsworth, Edward A. Armstrong, Edward Grey, Henry Williamson, J.A. Baker, John Clare, Kathleen Jamie, Mark Cocker, Miriam Rothschild, Richard Jefferies, Richard Mabey, Robert Mcfarlane, Roger Deakin, William Cobbett, R.M. Lockley — and that’s just a partial list. A wonderful collection!

And rounding out our latest brilliant box of British Books are these one-of-a-kind volumes:

men & the fieldsthe plotlie of land
Men and the Fields by Adrian Bell (the author traveled through East Anglia before modern agriculture altered the landscape forever. Ronald Blythe has called Bell’s book “among the best rural literature of the 20th century.”), The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting (what a wonderful place-based book — the multi-faceted story of a one-acre plot on the Yorkshire Moors), The Lie of the Land: An Under-the-Field Guide to the British Isles by Ian Vince (Vince brings to life a prehistoric Britain with red desert sands, molten rivers of lava, and great tectonic collisions).

magnussonmapliving mt
The Nature of Scotland: Landscape, Wildlife and People by Magnus Magnusson & Graham White (a terrific primer & full of color photos), Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (the Land Library is lucky enough to have several books on the U.S. Geological Survey’s work & explorations — now, here’s a book that tells a similar story of painstaking progress and adventure, this time on the British Isles), The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd (a beautifully written look at the misty mountain environment of the Cairngorms. Jim Perrin, writing in The Guardian, had this high praise, describing The Living Mountain as “the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain.”).

elfordlister kaye
A Year in the Woods by Chris Elford (the day-to-day adventures & sensitive observations of a forest ranger on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, At the Water’s Edge: A Personal Quest for Wildness by John Lister-Kaye (for thirty years John Lister-Kaye has taken the same circular walk from his home in the Scottish Highlands. His walk, and this book, describes the constant evolution of one of Britain’s best-known naturalists. Lister-Kaye is also the founder of the world-renowned Aigas Field Centre).

For more on Britain’s vast literature on the land, be sure to check out a few of our earlier posts!

A Brilliant Box Of British Books: The New Naturalists

A Brilliant Box of British Bird Books

A Brilliant Box of British Bee Books

Nuts for Huts

Assume the Stillness of a Tree

Brilliant!

larger butterfliesnature tales

We’re excited! Once again, through the kind donation of a very thoughtful Land Library supporter, we have just received a fresh batch of brilliant British nature books. It’s like walking into your local bookstore with every book brand new to your eyes.

Here’s one of our favorites: Patrick Barkham’s The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals (pictured above). In the grand tradition of a birder’s Big Year, Barkham sets out over the course of a single summer to discover how many British butterflies he can see. Along the way, he paints a vivid portrait of the admirable and eccentric butterfly collectors of the past, not to mention those he meets on the road. Margaret Drabble loved this book, commenting that “readers will be astonished by details of the teeming natural world that we so blindly inhabit.”

Another unique addition to the Land Library’s shelves is also pictured above, Nature Tales: Encounters with Britain’s Wildlife, edited by Michael Allen & Sonya Patel Ellis. This thoughtful anthology gathers together most of Britain’s leading writers and naturalists. Here’s just a few: Charles Darwin, Charles Waterton, Colin Tudge, Dorothy Wordsworth, Edward A. Armstrong, Edward Grey, Henry Williamson, J.A. Baker, John Clare, Kathleen Jamie, Mark Cocker, Miriam Rothschild, Richard Jefferies, Richard Mabey, Robert Mcfarlane, Roger Deakin, William Cobbett, R.M. Lockley — and that’s just a partial list. A wonderful collection!

And rounding out our latest brilliant box of British Books are these one-of-a-kind volumes:

men & the fieldsthe plotlie of land
Men and the Fields by Adrian Bell (the author traveled through East Anglia before modern agriculture altered the landscape forever. Ronald Blythe has called Bell’s book “among the best rural literature of the 20th century.”), The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting (what a wonderful place-based book — the multi-faceted story of a one-acre plot on the Yorkshire Moors), The Lie of the Land: An Under-the-Field Guide to the British Isles by Ian Vince (Vince brings to life a prehistoric Britain with red desert sands, molten rivers of lava, and great tectonic collisions).

magnussonmapliving mt
The Nature of Scotland: Landscape, Wildlife and People by Magnus Magnusson & Graham White (a terrific primer & full of color photos), Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (the Land Library is lucky enough to have several books on the U.S. Geological Survey’s work & explorations — now, here’s a book that tells a similar story of painstaking progress and adventure, this time on the British Isles), The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd (a beautifully written look at the misty mountain environment of the Cairngorms. Jim Perrin, writing in The Guardian, had this high praise, describing The Living Mountain as “the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain.”).

elfordlister kaye
A Year in the Woods by Chris Elford (the day-to-day adventures & sensitive observations of a forest ranger on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, At the Water’s Edge: A Personal Quest for Wildness by John Lister-Kaye (for thirty years John Lister-Kaye has taken the same circular walk from his home in the Scottish Highlands. His walk, and this book, describes the constant evolution of one of Britain’s best-known naturalists. Lister-Kaye is also the founder of the world-renowned Aigas Field Centre).

For more on Britain’s vast literature on the land, be sure to check out a few of our earlier posts!

A Brilliant Box Of British Books: The New Naturalists

A Brilliant Box of British Bird Books

A Brilliant Box of British Bee Books

Nuts for Huts

Assume the Stillness of a Tree

A Brilliant Box of British Bee Books

collinsbee boles larger

As we have reported in the past, a few times a year (thanks to an extremely thoughtful donor) the Land Library receives a well-traveled box of books from a British bookseller. Last week’s shipment had a particularly fun theme — the art and science of bees and beekeeping.

We’re especially thrilled to add the massive, comprehensive Collins Beekeeper’s Bible to our apiculture shelves. The British magazine, County Life, refers to this tome as a paving stone of a book.That it is! Packed into its 400 pages are chapters on honey bee behavior and biology, beekeeping history and folklore, along with a survey of the full range of bee products (honey, beeswax, mead, propolis, royal jelly, and even bee venom, for medicinal use).

Also pictured above is a much smaller volume, but equally intriguing — Bee Boles and Bee Houses by A.M. Foster, a photo-filled study devoted to the clever varieties of alcoves created for beehives throughout history.

We love these book for their fascinating blend of natural history and centuries old cultural traditions! Here’s a few more British bee books, brand new to the Land Library’s shelves:

smallholdergreat mastersbrother adam
Beekeeping: Inspiration and Advice for Would-be Smallholders by Andrew Davies, Great Masters of Beekeeping by Ron Brown, Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey by Brother Adam

sacred beeskeps
The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore by Hilda M. Ransome, Skeps: Their History, Making and Use by Frank Alston, a one-of-a-kind history of traditional domed hives, usually made of twisted straw.

This is the second in a series of posts as we prepare for our upcoming Literature of the Land Book Club on Bees and Beekeeping (presented in partnership with the Helen Fowler Library at the Denver Botanic Gardens. For more on the Book Club, click here!

And for more on the great tradition of British natural history books, check out these earlier posts:

A Brilliant Box of British Books: The New Naturalists

A Brilliant Box of British Bird Books

Nuts for Huts

study to be quietfishing huts

Why fishing huts? Why should I have spent months tracking down these curious riverside structures all over Britain? Why, as a friend kindly put it, am I nuts about huts?” — Jo Orchard-Lisle

As many of you know, periodically the Land Library receives a well-traveled box of books from a British bookseller. Our last shipment included a book that set us dreaming about adding something truly unique to Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Given the ranch’s miles of Gold Medal trout streams, what better inspiration can we have than Jo Orchard-Lisle’s Fishing Huts: The Angler’s Sanctuary?

Like many exceptional books, Fishing Huts was sparked by a bit of obsession. Jo Orchard-Lisle: “The idea of making a tour grew on me rapidly. I determined to visit as many as I could, and to learn or imagine what changes they had witnessed over the years. So it was that I set out on an odyssey along the rivers of Scotland, England and Wales. I found huts of every description — old, new, large, small, elaborate, primitive, grand, simple.”

Over 270 color photos accompany Jo Orchard-Lisle’s fun narrative. The cover photo (pictured above) features perhaps the most famous fishing hut of all: Charles Cotton’s Fishing House on the River Dove, better known as “The Temple” –the famous haunt of Cotton and his friend Izaak Walton (also pictured above), the author of the all-time classic, The Compleat Angler.

Here’s three more fun huts:

hut by river

It was a great sadness to me that I never reached the enchanting little hut, poised like an eagle’s eyrie on a crag above the Blackwater, a tributary of the Brora. Its simplicity and its position, miles from anywhere, in the wilds of Sutherland, both seem to me perfect, and I have been lucky enough to get a friend to photograph it.

old hut

The hut of F.M. Halford, author of the classic Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice (1889). “Although recently restored, Oakley, or Halford’s Hut, has remained almost unchanged since it was built in 1906. It is now beautifully maintained by The National Trust, whose volunteers have created the little flower garden alongside.

new hut

The author, inspired by her hut tour of the United Kingdom, built her own angler’s sanctuary along the River Avon. And so with this, Fishing Huts ends: “The hut is full of light but two simple panes have been fitted in the wall on the river side for further views. Work on the interior is still continuing as I write but it’s nearly done and so my journey ends, but with the enjoyable prospect of many happy hours in my hut ahead.

OK, this much is certain. The future fishing hut at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will have four walls, at least four of which will be lined by books. Books such as these that speak to the precious freshwaters upon which we depend for so much:

cutthroatbehnke
Two classics: Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West by Patrick Trotter, Trout and Salmon of North America by Robert J. Behnke.

bugwaterluna leopoldfgt
BugWater: A fly fisher’s look through the seasons at bugs in their aquatic habitat and the fish that eat them by Arlen Thomason, A View of the River by Luna Leopold (not an angling title, but like many of the books featured here, essential volumes for any riparian library!), Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by James H. Thorp (just published this past month).

river runs through itriverwalkingstanley crawfordwalton
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Waters by Kathleen Dean Moore, The River in Winter: New & Selected Essays by Stanley Crawford, The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Yes, that Izaak Walton, the one whose simple, enigmatic and inspiring quote we someday hope to carve above the door of a very simple, book-lined hut along the banks of the South Platte River at Buffalo Peaks Ranch: Study to be quiet.

study to be quiet

This post is part of an ongoing series inspired by the University of Colorado School of Architecture’s design work for Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

A Brilliant Box of British Books: The New Naturalists

books & naturalistsart of the new naturalists

Thanks to a thoughtful Land Library supporter, several times each year we receive a shipment of books from a British bookseller. It’s our happy task to select the titles, place the order, and wait a few weeks for the loud thump on our doorstep.

The only difficult step is determining which titles to order, but whenever we’re able, we add another volume to one of our favorite sections in the entire library — those shelves dedicated to the classic New Naturalist series. The longest-running, and arguably most influential natural history series in the world, the New Naturalists have published over 100 volumes in the past 60 years. The aim of the series since its inception has been “to interest the general reader in the wild life of Britain by recapturing the inquiring spirit of the old naturalists.” What a wonderful ambition!

Over the years the New Naturalist series has featured the work of classic writers such as F. Fraser Darling, Sir Alister Hardy, Miriam Rothschild, and Niko Tinbergen.

Two recent additions to the series are pictured above. Books and Naturalists by David Elliston Allen explores the world of natural history publishing through the course of history — a long and distinguished pursuit! Peter Marren and Robert Gillmor’s Art of the New Naturalists highlights what has become an iconic feature for the entire New Naturalist series: its distinctive and colorful cover art design — which you can see with each image below:

ladybirdsnew naturalist spines
Ladybirds by Mike Majerus, and a colorful array of New Naturalist’s spines.

woodland birdsmountain flowers

bumblebeeswild flowers
Woodland Birds by Eric Simms, Mountain Flowers by John Raven & Max Walters, Bumblebees by Ted Benton, Wild Flowers by John Gilmour & Max Walters

f. fraser darlingyellow wagtailbadger
Natural History in the Highlands and Islands by F. Fraser Darling, The Yellow Wagtail by Stuart Smith, Badger by Timothy Roper.

As the New Naturalist series grew over 100 titles strong, a volume was published on the series itself. Peter Marren’s The New Naturalists (pictured below) provides a fascinating glimpse at a publishing phenomena which happily has no end in sight!

new naturalists marren

For much more on the New Naturalists, be sure to visit their information-packed website newnaturalists.com.

And for more on the Land Library’s collection of classic British nature books, please visit these earlier posts:

A Brilliant Box of British Bird Books

The Dipper and the Best Book Series We Know

The Poetry of Birds

Wouldn’t it be grand to open an Irish branch of the Rocky Mountain Land Library

A Brilliant Box of British Bird Books

kingfisherriver diary

As we’ve reported in the past, thanks to the generosity (& imagination!) of a Land Library supporter, a few times a year we receive a battered, but not bruised, shipment of books from an English bookseller. These books have added such an exciting depth and diversity to the Land Library’s shelves!

As we unpacked the most recent shipment, we were especially impressed by the latest crop of British bird books. For sheer visual impact, it’s hard to match Charlie Hamilton James’ Kingfisher: Tales from the Halcyon River (pictured above). We’ll never look at the kingfishers along Denver’s streams in the same way! (Charlie Hamilton James has also teamed up with Philippa Forrester in a follow-up book, Halcyon River Diaries, an in-depth look at the wildlife of a typical English stream).

And here’s a few more unique titles from our Brilliant Box of British Bird Books!

swallowsflocksbird migrationstarlingsthis birding life
A Single Swallow: Following an Epic Journey from South Africa to South Wales by Horatio Clare, While Flocks Last: An Armchair Birdwatcher Goes in Search of Our Most Endangered Species by Charlie Elder, Bird Migration by Ian Newton, A Sky Full of Starlings by Stephen Moss, This Birding Life by Stephen Moss

And for more on our much-awaited British book shipments, link back to these earlier posts!

The Dipper and the Best Book Series We Know

The Poetry of Birds

Wouldn’t be grand to open an Irish branch of the Rocky Mountain Land Library?