wyrd] bird

Claire Marie Stancek

wyrd] bird

Claire Marie Stancek

Distributed for Omnidawn Publishing, Inc.

88 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9
Paper $17.95 ISBN: 9781632430847 Will Publish October 2020
In times fraught with ecological and individual loss, Claire Marie Stancek’s wyrd] bird grapples with both the necessity and apparent impossibility of affirming mystical experience. It is at once a book-length lyric essay on the 12th-century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, a dream journal, a fragmentary notebook, a collection of poems, and a scrapbook of photographic ephemera. Stancek follows Hildegard as she guides the poet through an underworld of climate catastrophe and political violence populated by literary, mythical, and historical figures from Milton’s Eve to the biblical Satan to Keats’s hand. The book deconstructs a Western tradition of good and evil by rereading, cross-questioning, and upsetting some of that tradition’s central poetic texts. By refusing and confusing dualistic logic, wyrd] bird searches for an expression of visionary experience that remains rooted in the body, a mode of questioning that echoes out into further questioning, and a cry of elegiac loss that grips, stubbornly, onto love.
Review Quotes
Library Journal
"Don’t miss outrageously word-hungry Claire Marie Stancek’s wyrd] bird."
Jennifer Firestone, author of Story
wyrd] bird immerses us in a world of disproportionate amounts of pain and beauty. This book wants equity but won’t settle for a pat response. Through intermittent states of dream, wake, and the in-between, along with a channeling of the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen, and a panoply of other writers (Marvell, Donne, Milton, Keats), wyrd] bird is dream journaling, resistance writing, chant and meditation; the work goes deep. Stancek has a careful, gorgeous eye and ear, and her lines will make you stop in your tracks. Words here are frenetic, alive and ‘honey red-burning.’ Stancek asks, ‘What would it mean to write an utterly embodied book?’ To read this is to know.”
Cole Swensen, author of Gravesend
“The tremendous and multi-faceted range—historical, thematic, formal—of this book-length poem creates a new structure, one that might best be called a wander, through which we’re led by Hildegard of Bingen and a constantly transforming and transformative host of birds. The birds become a way of interrogating corporality, their wings offering an anti-gravitational counterpoint to the round solidity of body. Haunted by recurrent characters—shattered glass, a recent death, or simply the color green—Stancek’s language-machine cuts and splices normative syntax into sparkling patterns, juxtaposing clarity with a marvelous opacity, an opacity that gives her language reflective properties.”
Brandon Shimoda, author of The Grave on the Wall
"'What would it mean to write an utterly embodied book?' asks Claire Marie Stancek, in the midst of writing one (this one). Which makes me wonder: 'What would it mean to write oneself into becoming a musical instrument?' Because that is one of several things I thought while reading wyrd] bird: that the poet’s orientation—and Stancek’s waking magic—is the presence and precision of an instrument constantly positioning—fashioning, embodying, availing—itself so as to best receive what is being offered of the withering yet still somehow possible world and to convert it into something that both is and is beyond music."
Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Variations on Dawn and Dusk
"Destiny enters our lives—we do not like to say so—and wyrds them—. That is, the destination that is a life grows strange when, as if fated, we wake up into this life that is, I’m told, my own. But life isn’t only a daylit realm—it’s dusk, it’s dawn, the half-lit all. The tight weave of the will unwinds, the self is a selvage fraying at its edge apart, and the mind learns again it is a thinking dream, learns to ask, as Claire Marie Stancek knows it must, 'what / is a green thought?' To read wyrd] bird is to become its student. And so I’ve learned, in part, that the 'green thought' is the vital, mystic tendril that threads together opposites into union more profound: God and Satan, sun and moon, night and day, dream and waking. The mystic knows paradise is not conclusion, but is found only in the 'vigor of the unfinished thought,' where song undoes mere fact, and the world becomes again the poem of love. It is not an easy poem. Love here is difficult because it is so true. Includes the riots. Includes the police. Includes guns. But also includes the wish that 'the song could take some pain away,' and indeed the song does. When the intimate inverts into the infinite we have the mystic’s book and balm—which is this very book’s deepest nature. Not that it heals all our harms; it doesn’t, and shouldn’t. This book serves a deeper need: to let us behold the wound, our helpless openness, that lets us love the world that wounds us all the more dearly for bearing its mark."
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