The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing
FutureCycle Press, 2022
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In The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing, Paula J. Lambert presents a study in avian anatomy that rises to a celebration of the sacred. “The world sees itself/in crisis,” says Lambert. “And is wrong. We’ve only to listen/to the cracked skull and filthy bones of what was/once called augury…. Hear me. Listen to the light/that guides us.” From egg tooth to eyelid, from the kestrel’s ability to hover to the kite’s kleptoparasitism, we learn as much about ourselves as we do of these birds: we learn what it is to survive and what it is to thrive.
"Paula J. Lambert, poet, missionary, amateur ornithologist, supplicant, and seeker has, as Walt Whitman reminds, “no time to lose.” Hers is an urgent and pleading song. Her collection of poems swells and crescendos, tasking the reader to study wing, beak and bone; to be awestruck; and even in defeat, to sing. Her passion is the wonder of birds in every minute detail, but her journey is that of a pilgrim seeking the divine—her mission, to extol biology and beauty we might easily miss. The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing is an encyclopedic exultation of the avian and a gathering of usable truths. “We call ourselves willing to commit but don’t always//know what we’re in for. Surprise waits on the shoreline/of every adventure we sail toward.” These wise, lyrical poems of longing encourage us to embrace “the will to live, the want to rise.” No entreaty could be more timely, as disasters, extinctions, disease, and climate uncertainty grow. Lambert offers the news with exuberance and music."
~ Barbara Rockman, author of Sting and Nest, winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and to cleave, winner of the National Press Women Book Prize; finalist for the International Book Award.
"In The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing, Paula J. Lambert is led by birds to a spirituality reminiscent of Whitman’s oversoul and Blake’s energy of contraries. In the delightful “The Chicken, the Egg,” everything is revealed, or rather, everything feels tantalizingly near. These poems, musical as birdsong, crack the shell’s concealing truth, overlapping human and avian vision until swansong and poetry merge. Surprising particulars of avian anatomy and behaviors become allegories for human experience. There’s no escaping that mirror, and we are better for the insights revealed, what is holy emphasized in the perfectly symmetrical closing section that opens with “Turkey Vulture: Committee, Kettle, Wake” and closes with “Sky Burial: Generosity.” One way or another, we are made to soar."
~ Charlene Fix, author of Jewgirl (Eyewear 2022), Taking a Walk in My Animal Hat (Bottom Dog), Frankenstein’s Flowers (CW Books), Harpo Marx as Trickster (McFarland), and Flowering Bruno (XOXOX Press).