What might we learn from the language of birds? How might we listen to and understand the many meanings of their speech? These are the questions I explore in two pieces published in the new Language issue of the wonderful Emergence Magazine:
The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging
“When bird and human minds connect, a new language is born…”
An essay on many marvels and meanings of bird sounds. The written essay is accompanied on the site by an audio piece in which I narrate the essay alongside the voices of dozens of bird species. To make this sonic experience, I spent several weeks weaving my field recordings with some from Gordon Hempton’s amazing library of sounds. The essay is accompanied by artwork by Obi Kaufman capturing the essence of each birds’ presence.
Five Practices for Listening to the Language of Birds
“When bird language entered my life, I felt that a new sense had been grafted into me…”
A short essay on how to listen to birds, accompanied by Obi Kaufman’s artwork by and an avian soundscape.
In the same Language issue are essays, artwork, interviews, film, and other media by Elizabeth Rush, Robert Macfarlane, Katie Holten, Charles Foster, Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder, Camille Dungy, Paul Kingsnorth, Linda Hogen, Ellen Litwiller, and others.
Many thanks to Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Bethany Ritz, Adam Loften, and their colleagues for editorial work and counsel on my essays.
I have found Emergence Magazine to be an amazing resource to share with students. If you’re a language educator, this current issue has much food for fruitful and expansive discussions about the many natures of language. The magazine’s creative mix of writing, spoken word, visual art, film, and sound design also provides much classroom material for discussions about the relationships between form and content.
I wish you the best, and many wonderful sonic bird encounters, in this summer season.