Birds Nobody Loves
Birds Nobody Loves is an illustrated collection of poems about vulures and grackles, two of the less popular denizens of the sky.
On this page, you can find a book description, ordering information, links to reviews, previous publications, draft poems and videos.
After spending a lot of time watching vultures and grackles around his home in central Texas, author James Brush “never ceases to be amazed–and just a little horrified–by the scorn these two creatures illicit. It’s precisely that derision and disdain for these two species that attracted me to them as subject matter for a poetry collection.” The grackle poems take a sometimes humorous look at our various fears of the other (and the things that spark those fears: ugliness, alienation, disease, fear of change) while the vulture poems examine themes of mortality and the connections and interrelationships between the human and natural worlds.
Most of the poems in this collection have been published in various online and print journals and here on Coyote Mercury.
Birds Nobody Loves is available in paperback from most online booksellers including:
It’s also available as a Kindle download.
Dave Bonta at Via Negativa:
This is a fun book, and light-weight enough to slip easily in a knapsack with the field guides.
Mark Stratton at Aggaspletch:
A marvelous collection about Vultures and Grackles, truly birds nobody loves. Yet, Brush brings a sensitivity and true appreciation for both of these unloved birds.
Juliet Wilson at Crafty Green Poet:
The poetry is well observed, here is someone who clearly watches birds carefully and has a way with words to describe them in striking ways. The poems show the more engaging sides of the birds and also comment more directly on people’s hatred of them.
Margo Roby at Wordgathering:
Reading James Brush’s poems is like being shown a secret handshake that lets you into an exclusive club, only, the patrons inside happen to be grackles and vultures.
Anjuli at bhulbhulaiyan:
I was amazed that I would even like pieces about birds- let alone, ones nobody loves. I mean, I could imagine poems about blue birds and peacocks and the like…but grackles?? Number one, what in heaven’s name is a grackle? To my amazement, I enjoyed each piece. By the third read, I was seeing layers in some of the pieces…wise layers…intriguing layers. I knew this was a keeper.
Scott Rudolph at Books on the Edge:
The collection is well laid out with all print and illustrations including the cover in black and white. It almost speaks to a contrast between the two birds. The illustrations lend themselves nicely to the work, and make the book enjoyable to read.
Read more reviews at Goodreads.
Mar 2016: two-part series of KUT’s ATXplained series that includes me reading from Birds Nobody Loves as reporter Mose Buchele delves into local grackle-lore: Part I: Why Do Grackles Flock to Grocery Store Parking Lots at Dusk and Part II: That Time UT Austin Waged a War on Grackles.
Feb 2015: Texas Monthly article, Eight Reasons Grackles Are Awesome. Number Eight: “They’ve Inspired a poetry collection” which is Birds Nobody Loves. Includes the prose piece “God Hates Grackles”
Previous Publications & Draft Poems:
The following poems from the collection were previously published. Where there are links, they can be read online. My thanks to the editors of these journals for first letting these birds fly.
“Winter Solstice.” Curio Poetry (Dec 2011)
“In the Time of the Automobile.” Curio Poetry (Dec 2011)
“While Sitting in Church.” (videopoem) qarrtsiluni (Oct 2011 – Worship issue)
“Pale sky.” Pay Attention: A River of Stones Anthology (Mar 2011)
“Greyhound Joey vs. The Grackle.” Houston Literary Review (Feb 2011)
“Grackles spill across the sky.” a handful of stones (Aug 2009)
“Good Authority.” Bolts of Silk (Aug 2009)
“Lines Discovered in an Aging Ornithologist’s Field Journal.” Thirteen Myna Birds (Jul 2009)
“Circling Vultures.” Thirteen Myna Birds (Jul 2009)
“God Hates Grackles” Thirteen Myna Birds (Jul 2009)
“My Tourist Yard.” Bolts of Silk (Jun 2009)
Many of the poems first appeared here in draft form. You can read those early drafts here. My thanks to the many people who commented, critiqued and left feedback on these drafts.
I’ve made two videos for these poems. If you’re interested in creating videos for any of these poems, do let me know.
“While Sitting in Church”