Birthday Poem 2021

Today, it’s too cold
to be anywhere but the bar
of this Mexican restaurant w/
a Dos Equis & a statue of a frog
wearing a Christmas-themed COVID mask

But earlier, in too-thin coat
& mud-caked boots, walking
a greening trail mad w/ buds &
maybe that was a Kestrel
being chased off by two crows
& the male Redwings
are acting like the females have arrived
& so this business of spring
can really get started

In the mirror, behind bottles
of tequila & whiskey,
that sad-looking guy is
another year older, has
a little more gravel in his pockets
but also, another few birds
in memory’s storehouse, &
thank the gods & Reyna
the bartender,
a fresh Dos Equis
in front of him

[If you enjoyed this, I’d love to send you my free e-book, Notes from the Grizfork: A Year of Watching in Montana’s Paradise Valley. Simply click here.]

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Life List Press Reviews and Blurbs

“Creative talent flocks to Livingston, observable in the collaboration of author Marc Beaudin, artist Storrs Bishop, and publisher Daniel Rice on the book Life List: Poems … a collection of 75 Beaudin poems, each featuring a bird species, an index of 361 birds he’s spotted, and 23 black and white Bishop bird monotypes.
“The poems span several decades and continents and vary in style and subject but the perspective and voice are definitively Beaudin’s. … The tone is consistently somber, with poems that look death in the eye and land on many ugly truths about human nature and behavior, occasionally soaring into the liberating heights of the natural world. Bishop’s nebulous monotypes complement the poems, varying with each viewing.” – Kris King, Montana Quarterly

“Ultimately, Life List is both a celebration of what it means to see a bird, as well as an eulogy for the world that once was and the role we continue to play in its destruction.” – Johnathan Hettinger, High Desert Journal

“Beaudin’s poems are a soothing tonic for this moment, … They too, capture this moment’s agonizing truth: life on Earth teeters on a precipice of immense social and environmental change. … [His images] haunt me, and do the other critical work of a poet: calling us to action by igniting our souls.” – Winona Bateman, The Changing Times

“The Montana Book Award” – Kevin Brustuen, Bozeman Magazine


“Historically, the poetry of Marc Beaudin has trafficked in music, wine, ceaseless motion, stillness, the natural world, resistance and revolution, fueled always by joy or joy’s converse, despair. In Life List, Beaudin combines the eye of the poet with that of the naturalist, traveling from northwest Montana’s beleaguered Yaak Valley (“25 Bears”) to northern Michigan to Europe. Passionate yet mature, this is Beaudin’s most inspired and finest work. Every Montanan should own it, and ever birder. Every reader.” –Rick Bass, author of The Traveling Feast

“The poems are exquisite and full of life like the birds themselves. … Life List by Marc Beaudin is a poetic field guide to the birds. Each poem is not only a call back to a particular species, but how we find ourselves in the eye of another with clarity and compassion as we stand on the razor-edge of uncertainty. This is a tender and generative book.” –Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion

“This is a powerful, creative, and environmentally grounded work. Beautiful and exquisite in its celebration of flight and how wilderness works its way into our blood and bones and calls us to something transcendent.” –Shann Ray, author of Atomic Theory 7

Life List, poem after impressive poem, is a strenuous & crucial effort to lift us all into loving consciousness by way of beauty, the sheer beauty of the natural world.” –William Heyen, author of The Candle: Poems of Our 20th Century Holocausts

“A deftly woven catalogue of human experience through the keen observations of birds and landscapes. Beaudin masterfully translates the mysterious language between magpies and mountains and weaves it into a beautifully poetic tapestry.” –Michael Garrigan, author of Robbing the Pillars

“Beaudin’s poems ask us to pay attention not only to birds, but to our dreams, to the music that circles around us all.” –Taylor Brorby, author of Crude: Poems

“Beaudin moves through the bird world in a state of meditative wonder. Like a rapt man with one eye pressed to a microscope, it is Beaudin’s job to look—to look carefully. He reports back with equal care, and the paths he takes us down are delightful.” –Michael Earl Craig, author of Woods and Clouds Interchangeable

“Beaudin’s poems ground us long enough to take flight in this outdoor field guide of an interior life.” –Mark Gibbons, author of The Imitation Blues and Mostly Cloudy

“It has always been the poet’s job to name what’s at stake in this moment, but now, it is their sacred calling. Beaudin delivers beautifully.” –Winona Bateman, poet and climate organizer with Families for a Livable Climate

Life List is about much more than watching birds. It’s about seeing ourselves through them. And if we’re lucky, about seeing a bit of them in us. Count yourself fortunate in the reading.” –J. Drew Lanham, author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature


More from William Heyen:

“In a 1986 journal entry, Edward Abbey, one of Marc Beaudin’s spiritual fathers, considers his life’s center: ‘My philosophy, I guess, insofar as I still have one, would fall under some such heading as Romantic Naturalism.’ He knows he doesn’t need labels. And he knows that although he’s a naturalist who witnesses the human destruction of our primal environment, he still aspires / dreams / hopes for / yearns for / believes in (does he?) some kind of Whitmanesque sense of transcendence, maybe by way, too, of Emerson’s ‘sufficient perspective.’ Reading Beaudin’s inspired & inspiring Life List, poems that begin with title-sightings of birds & then reach various nests & flyways by way of his inclusive mind & associative sensibility, I thought often of Abbey … but Beaudin is his own man, his own poet, romantic at heart though sometimes in angry despair because our ‘canopy of birdsong’ diminishes. Life List, poem after impressive poem, is a strenuous & crucial effort to lift us all into loving consciousness by way of beauty, the sheer beauty of the natural world. How is it possible, Beaudin asks—& this is just one of countless dark astonishments in Beaudin that might possibly get through to us—how is it possible that ‘pelicans paint themselves / across the marbled sky yet somehow / somewhere / we are still bombing children’?

“Theodore Roethke, another of Beaudin’s abiding companions, once said that ‘by long staring’ he had come to be. That is, it’s as though he did not even exist except by seeing & then dwelling on the natural world. In Beaudin’s “Driving 212,” the poet is in South Dakota where he can “squint the endless / bales of hay / into ghost-herds of bison.’ What he does in Life List is to squint species of birds into eco-poems that surprise & gratify & challenge us. His book will now remain on my own life list of admired contemporary poetry collections. ‘One could do worse than to watch the doves,’ or to watch & often take romantic hope from Marc Beaudin’s seventy other species of avian poems.’ –William Heyen, National Book Award finalist and author of Shoah Train and Crazy Horse in Stillness

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Life List: Poems

A 2020 Honor Winner by the Montana Book Award. Includes the poem “25 Bears” – finalist for the 2020  Spur Award for Best Poem. Available from Riverfeet Press.

“Passionate yet mature, this is Beaudin’s most inspired and finest work.” –Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

[READ A SAMPLE]

“Exquisite and full of life like the birds themselves. In each poem we find clarity and compassion as we stand on the razor-edge of uncertainty. –Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion

I’m over-the-loon [sic] excited to be bringing you this collection of poems with over 20 stunning monotypes by Storrs Bishop and an introduction by J. Drew Lanham. This has been an incredible journey of going deep into what birds mean to me, as well as how they connect with my beliefs about our relationships (and responsibilities) to the earth, to each other, to the wild spaces both in the world and within ourselves.

It has also been a journey into my convictions about what poetry is, and how a poem is made. I spent a lot of time breaking things down to their foundations, questioning what tools and building techniques I was using, and discovering new ways to hear the music of a poem. I really hope you will enjoy the results.

“This is a powerful, creative, and environmentally grounded work. Beautiful and exquisite in its celebration of flight and how wilderness works its way into our blood and bones and calls us to something transcendent.”
Shann Ray, author of American Copper and Blood Fire Vapor Smoke

Here’s a little more about the project:

Life List, by Marc Beaudin, is a collection of 74 poems that explores the poet’s question, “What is the soul if not the sum on the flights of a thousand birds?” Arranged like a field guide, the book is divided into regional sections with each poem featuring a different bird selected from Beaudin’s own life list (currently at 361 species). As he writes in his author’s note: “For many years, crows, herons and other avian species have flown through my poetry, adding their voices and flashes of light to my vain attempts to render in language the precarious circumstances of being alive.” The book includes several monotypes by Montana artist Storrs Bishop, and features an introduction by J. Drew Lanham author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.

“A crucial effort to lift us all into loving consciousness by way of the sheer beauty of the natural world.” – William Heyen, author of The Candle: Poems of our 20th Century Holocausts

More reviews and acclaim for Life List

Order now from Riverfeet Press

You can also support these wonderful local, independent stores who carry Life List:

Elk River Books, Livingston, Montana
Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Montana
Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Montana
Montana Book Company, Helena, Montana
This House of Books, Billings, Montana
Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah
Reading Leaves, Townsend, MT
Common Sense Books, Townsend, MT
Wheatgrass Books & Gifts, Livingston, MT
The Frame Garden, Livingston, Montana
High Trash Boutique, Livingston, Montana
Schnee’s, Bozeman, Montana
Glacier Park Trading Company, East Glacier, Montana

[Indies: if you carry Life List but aren’t listed here, please let me know. If you’d like to carry it, please visit my publisher, Riverfeet Press.]

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