I am humming with joy this morning – award-winning author, poet, and artist Susan Taylor Brown
is here! Well, some of her work is here, and now there are more options for you to own some yourself.
Perhaps you know Susan primarily through the writing side of her life – dozens of books for children for the trade and educational markets, hundreds of stories and articles in newspapers and magazines, and a speaking schedule that has included SCBWI conferences, Highlights workshops, and artist in residence experiences in which she’s taught poetry to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Or perhaps you’ve visited her blog and website for spot-on writing advice shared with wisdom and plenty of heart and personal experience. If, like me, you might have missed the incredible interview posted by Jone in June over at Check It Out
, you will definitely want to, well, check it out
Perhaps as a faithful Poetry Friday-er, you’ve popped over to Susan’s website or seen her pictures on Facebook. Has your jaw dropped and have your eyes popped at her glorious photographs of the wildlife she’s invited into her California back yard? Thought so. Did you mourn a few months ago after following the daily activities of Lily, the lovely hummingbird who graced Susan’s yard with a nest and then lost her precious eggs just before they were to hatch? Yes, me too.
Lots of folks were moved by Susan's photographs. It wasn’t long before Susan’s friends clamored for her to offer her incredible nature pictures for sale.
She made a page for her greeting cards
with the delightful name, “Poppiness.” And just this month, she opened her own Etsy shop
! As a new Etsy shop owner myself, I was thrilled to catch this bit of news and track her down. Oh, and order some gorgeous cards.
I asked Susan if she might share some of her hummingbird photographs and poems with us. The poems appeared on other blogs this year (terrific Poetry Friday ones!), but they bear re-sharing.In My Backyard
iridescent wings dip, dive
of the scraggly Toyon bush
not yet six feet tall
weaves bits of moss
with spider webs
tucks in a single strand of grass
a dainty dandelion seed
then flies away
cat quiet, I creep
tiny nest cradles
tiny eggs, two
no bigger than my thumb
she settles, spreads
herself atop the eggs
the wind blows, blustering
never flustering her
she sways a branch dance
where rainbows wait to hatch
© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
on Greg's great blog
******************************************13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird
greengold glitters glides
lands atop the waterfalls
a water dance
blades of grass
one gray hair
two red threads
a mini mansion
I'll keep my distance
wait some more
just in case
the plum tree a
perfect preening place
ruffled nest feathers
bugs picked flicked
bask in the sun
before babies come
that came before
flashlight in hand
she disappears deep
within the overgrown honeysuckle
one half a walnut shell
waiting to happen
my days equal
my days equal
I await her homecoming
hidden only slightly behind the fence
two hundred photographs
my mini model
is a star
no mama snug atop her nest
no tiny eggs safe and sound
no babies waiting
to say hello world
the darkness and dawn
overcast and gray
but I am stubborn
searching beneath the bushes
until I find evidence
until I find a tiny white shell
until it hits me
miracles don't always come true
shot after shot after shot
most will be out of focus
unable to capture the pain I feel
at all the days that should have been ahead
suddenly suspended beside me
close enough to almost touch
she hovers there
ten seconds maybe more
just long enough
to say goodbye
© Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.
on Jone’s wonderful blog
I asked Susan: What is it about hummingbirds that compels you to write about and photograph them?
Take it away, Susan!I am a perpetually nervous person often filled with worry about things I can't change or control. I was spending so much time worrying about what did happen and what I could have done differently and what might happen and how I could avoid it that I was forgetting to live my life in the here and now. I had a wonderful life and I was missing out on it. All around me friends were going to yoga, beginning to meditate, and learning how to be here, now, living in the present moment. I couldn't seem to get the handle of yoga or meditating but I did spend a lot of time in my native garden. Usually it was because my dog Cassie was pestering me to step away from the computer and go outside. In my typical hurry-up fashion I wanted her to hurry-up and take care of business so I could hurry-up and get back to work worrying about whatever the day's worry might be.
Cassie had other ideas. She meandered around the yard, each visit outside taking a similar path, dipping a head into the sage to sniff at bees, pausing under the maple tree to wait for squirrels, stopping at the elderberry to watch the birds flit from branch to branch. I got tired of standing and waiting for her so I sat down. And when I sat down, the critters in the yard got used to me and turned brave, coming closer to feed at the bushes close to me and play in the bird pond. My fingers itched for my camera. The more I sat and watched, the more I saw. I had found a meditation that worked for me. I had learned to see more by being still and I had discovered how to live in the present moment.
What does that have to do with photographing hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds are so fast that one would think you need to be fast in order to get a photo of them in flight. But really the opposite is true. You need to be slow. You need to be patient. You need to learn to be still. Because when you do that you will be forced to watch, hundreds of times, the way the hummingbirds around you act when they are coming in to feed. You learn their dipping, diving behavior. You begin to understand their dance. I spent hours just watching the birds in my garden and other gardens before I tried to pick up the camera. And even then I shot thousands of blurry photos or photos of plants where the birds USED to be, before I snapped the shutter. But with practice, I found it easier to get into the dance and sometimes I get lucky and capture just the photo I had hoped to capture.
So I guess the easy answer is that I feel compelled to photograph hummingbirds, as well as the other wildlife in my garden, because it continually reminds me to be here, now, in the moment and to give thanks for the opportunity to witness these gifts of nature.Click here
for a link to a published slideshow Susan did for Bay Nature Magazine on photographing hummingbirds.
And now let me leave you with some lovely news you can use. Susan has gorgeous photographs available in her Etsy shop – hummingbirds, flowers, other stunning flora and fauna. And, she and I have decided that we’d like to offer a Poetry Friday discount for holiday shopping. From now through Dec. 31, just visit either of our shops – Poppiness
– and type in the Coupon Code: PF2012
for a 10 percent discount! (You can look each of us up on Twitter, too, @poppiness and @artsyletters.)
Thanks, and many thanks to Susan for sharing her work here today.
Also, much appreication to Julie Hedland for featuring me on her terrific blog
on Wednesday, and to Renée LaTulippe for welcoming me to No Water River
today! Such an honor, ladies - thank you.
For more poetic treasures, hop over to Booktalking
, where the amazing Anastasia is rounding up Poetry Friday. Read More