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December 11, 2019 at 10:18 pm

Pickering Publishes Two Poems on Terrain.Org

Paul Pickering, portrait

Paul Pickering

By Regina Yoong

Ohio University graduate student Paul Pickering has two poems—“Golden Eagle” and “For the Dusky Seaside Sparrow”—in the newest issue of Terrain.org.

“‘Golden Eagle’ emerges from a drive on New Year’s Eve last year. My wife and I traveled from Kansas to New Mexico. We were somewhere beyond Liberal, KS (poet B.H. Fairchild’s Kansas), driving through hard-scrabble towns, past intermittent grain elevators, and surrounded by a lot of open space. The wind pushed over the fields blowing snow that swirled along the two-lane road. That’s where we saw the eagle, and it saw us. The poem attempts to give shape to that landscape and the feeling it evoked,” says Pickering, who is studying poetry in the doctoral English program..

“I’d been working on ‘For the Dusky Seaside Sparrow’ for several years before it took its final shape. It’s hard to countenance the mass extinction event that we’re living through right now. The last known Dusky Seaside Sparrow died in 1987, actually on June 17, 1987, at Walt Disney World – which adds a degree of strangeness to the tragedy. A species disappeared that day, and nothing changed. This is a poem of memory, witness, and sorrow. If we are able to find a path to living sustainably, it’s going to require humans to knit our felt experience, our sympathy, to other beings.”

‘A New Song Shaped by Ancestral Music’

When asked about what poetry means to him, Pickering’s captivating answer will speak to anyone’s soul.

“That question is like a life-long friend who ages beside me. Over the years our expressions change as new lines appear on our faces while the old ones deepen. We toil together, we fill our tin cups with wine and we drink beneath the moon together. We weep for the past together. And in each season as the fresh winds rise, we sing a new song shaped by ancestral music.”

Pickering is currently working on a series of poems, many which lead him back to Alabama, the neighborhood where he grew up.

“I’m communing with the spirits of the place. The crescent prairie that cuts like a scythe through south-central Alabama sweeps through me, as it bends through the landscape just outside of town. I like to wander along the grassland fringes where a new feeling drifts on the humid wind ready to be shaped on the anvil of poetry.”

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