Nine poems inspired by one rare bird
We were on the first of the season’s poetry walks run by the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire). It was also the launch of Zi-Zi Taah Taah Taah, Steve’s single-poet, single-species pamphlet, dedicated to the bird he first encountered in 1979 (an encounter memorialised in one of the nine poems, titled, therefore, ‘1979’).
The first reed warblers of the year provided a sonic backdrop with their rhythmic rasping song; blackcaps’ mellow but tuneless warble, and chiffchaffs spiky pulse completed the accompaniment to Steve’s nine readings. Inspired as they are by one small bird, nevertheless they riff on subjects as diverse as the former coalfields’ heroin problem, the evils of capitalism, and Plenty Coup, chief of the Crow nation who wore a chickadee (the North American version of the willow tit) plaited into his hair. The willow tit, appropriately enough, contributed its silence, as unfortunately did Ted Hughes’s swifts, making us wait a few more days for confirmation that the globe’s still working.
Zi-Zi Taah Taah Taah is published by Wild West Press, an imprint of the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire)
Back from the Brink is a programme run by this partnership of eight conservation organisations and nine main funders. Under the programme willow tit work is carried out by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.