Words for birds

Creative conservation

Poetry magazine The Rialto, in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Birdlife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, invites submissions for the 2017 Nature and Place poetry competition.


More about each organisation at therialto.co.uk; rspb.org.uk; birdlife.org; conservation.cam.ac.uk

More about the competition at the link here:


From a Home to a Home

Migrants in Melbourne:

‘The search for home unites human and winged travellers in a unique exhibition involving sixteen artists from seven countries…’

Friday 25 November – Thursday 8 December
Opening: Friday 25 November , 6.00–9.00pm
BSG, 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Gallery hours: Tues–Fri 10am–8pm; Sat–Sun 10–6pm

More information at http://www.kategorringesmith.com.au/news.html

Immigration Nation:

English lessons at Bathurst Migrant Camp 1951. Courtesy National Archives of Australia

English lessons at Bathurst Migrant Camp 1951. Courtesy National Archives of Australia


More at http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/aplaceforeveryone/bathurst-migrant-camp/

See also http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/11760707658/immigration-nation-the-secret-history-of-us

I’ll tell you why.
To survive

the onslaught of religion.
To outlive

the ghosts of martyrs.
To recover

from the world’s longest war
since WWII. To live

beyond the hatreds
of patriotism. To see

the kinder face of humanity.
To think

free of the Faith’s manacles.
To believe

without the obligation
of forming belief.

To discover
the basic joys of being.

The price? I’ll tell you.

Marginalised to the point
of disappearance.

Barred for nothing
more profound than a shade

of skin, a tone
of speech, a taste

of lifestyle. Alienated
beyond the word.

Ignored by the mighty.
Detested by the commoner.

Worth it? Doubtless.
To finally grasp

humanity’s fraudulent truth.
To dream

the sweetness of equality.
To see past

the façade of brotherhood.
To be touched

you might say, by the rays
of a luminous discovery.

To abandon
all faith, and come to cherish

the immense solitude
of non-believing.

To desire. To know
the power of desire. To wait

joyfully amid unpalatable sadness.
Recommend it?

Only to loathsome enemies
and to my dearest friends.

by Iranian-born Australian-based writer Ali Alizadeh

More at https://alializadeh.wordpress.com/


Ali Alizadeh


In transit on the thin green line

Passage migrants at Mai Po Marshes, Hong Kong SAR

maipo-spoonbills-and-aptsFrom the floating bird hides at Mai Po, looking towards Shenzhen

Image by Katherine Fletcher at http://www.chesleyhouse.com/Travel/hk_mai_po.htm

Flightpathproject has just returned from Mai Po, where migratory birds are in transit along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway in their thousands. There is poetry in their names: gadwalls and godwits, snipes, stints and sandpipers, tattlers and turnstones.

It’s a challenge, holding the thin green line of marsh, mangrove and mudflats on the border with mainland China. Does the wetland protect the birds, or do the birds protect the wetland?

Their next stop: Australia and southern hemisphere summer.

800px-maipo_bridgeFloating boardwalk, Mai Po

Image by Larco at commons.wikimedia.org

More about Mai Po

See http://www.wwf.org.hk/en/whatwedo/water_wetlands/mai_po_nature_reserve/

Home from home

From a home to a home:

A new project from the artists and makers of the wonderful Flyway Print Exchange http://www.theflywayprintexchange.info/ seeks ‘to create compassion and understanding for both the human travellers who come to our country in the hope of finding a safe haven and for the shorebirds that rely on our coastal wetlands’.



More information and image at https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/from-a-home-to-a-home-a-story-of-migration/

‘No-one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark’:

Young British poets speak out for the flightpaths and arrivals of refugees at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/16/poets-speak-out-for-refugees-

Flying for Life

Flying for their lives:

‘Every year, millions of shorebirds fly between Australasia and the Arctic. But for many, this will be their last flight…’

Take an extraordinary journey along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with Ann Jones.

Article and images at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-17/flying-for-your-life-ann-jones/7459288

The strangeness of flight:

…You stand there
by the strangeness…
…you stare like an animal into
the blinding clouds
with the snapped chain of your life,
the life you know:
the deeply affectionate earth,
the familiar landscapes
slowly turning
thousands of feet below.

from Flying by Mary Oliver


Larks fly in Flanders

Flightpathproject reflects on flight on Armistice Day, 11 November 2015, in the 70th year after the end of WWII

  • in memory of Jim Monteith RAF, much-loved and sorely-missed, who – on metal wings – supported the evacuation of POWs in 1945 from camps in Thailand and Singapore
  • in memory of those who went to war years before him and those who went – are still going – to war years after him

Words from ‘The War to End All Wars’ that wasn’t:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Lt Colonel John McCrae, Canadian physician, after the funeral of a friend at Ypres in 1915

A flood, blood-red:


Ceramic poppies installed at the Tower of London, July to November 2014

Image at http://www.theguardian.com

Flying in the face of fairness

Australia pays to keep asylum seekers away

See http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/15/any-payments-to-people-smugglers-may-have-broken-australian-law

From Australia’s National Anthem Advance Australia Fair

‘For those who’ve come across the seas

We’ve boundless plains to share…’

no way

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

…You must praise the mutilated world.

You watched the stylish yachts and ships;

one of them had a long trip ahead of it,

while salty oblivion awaited others.

You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,

you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.

You should praise the mutilated world…

by Adam Zagajewski

Listen to the poem at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/247934