“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
“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
“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 1996 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