Winner of the 2020 Washington Prize!
Meg Kearney draws on her acute powers of observation, a lively curiosity and her gift for gorgeous imagery to take us on a journey of personal exploration, discovery, and reconciliation. These surprising poems bring together the parallel but discreet worlds of human beings and birds, which talk to each other across the gulf between them. Constantly engaging, deeply satisfying, with a knowledge of birds and their behavior sufficient to satisfy even the most demanding birder, but never alienating the casual observer, with wit, musicality, and her own unflinching eye, Kearney gives us a page-turner we want never to end, its subject being the work in progress which is life and its abundant mysteries.
—Andrea Carter Brown, Series Editor, author of The Disheveled Bed and Domestic Karma
Reaction to All Morning the Crows
This book goes well beyond a metaphoric treatment of birds and their habits. Instead, their differing characteristics comprise a jumping-off point for a mythology of selfhood—a lens through which to examine and confront a personal history. The catalog of birds illustrates how happenstance and speculation determine who she is. Untranslatable and mysterious as any mythology, a various history of a changeable self accumulates in these inventive, charged, and often ecstatic poems. Meg Kearney’s poems both delight and complicate—at heart a spirit as unknowable and evocative as the birds themselves.
—Cleopatra Mathis, author of After the Body and Book of Dog
“Before I was born I was biggest of the clutch, already a burden / and slow to hatch,” Meg Kearney writes in her long-awaited and remarkable bird book—which is about birds and so much more. Against the backdrop of her parents’ death, the trauma of the Towers, and pervasive self-doubt, a young woman traces her history of flight, offering a narrative of heartbreak spliced with humor and filtered through the raucous assemblages of birds which inhabit her, “singing in the cage my bones make.” If birds provide music (“She just likes to say grackle, a crack-your- / knuckles, hard-candy word”) and spiritual sustenance (“the soul is a sparrow”), they also allow the narrator to negotiate her habitat: “’Bird seed—it’s in your hair,’ / my mother said, reaching for me.” Meg Kearney has crafted a dazzling book of personal transformations, moving and memorable.
—Michael Waters, author of The Dean of Discipline and Caw
Poems from All Morning the Crows
- “Cormorant,” Verse Daily
- “Starlings,” Baltimore Review
- “Partridge: Paradise Lost,” “Ode to the Parrot,” “Call Me Dr. Frankenstein,” AGNI
Meg wishes to thank Susan Pearce for the cover design, and especially Craig Kosak, who kindly let her use his gorgeous painting.