#SusanCerulean: I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird

[please find PoEtrY fRiDaY links at the end]

Susan Cerulean: I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird

Earlier this week on another page here, I honored the “good trouble” created by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who as a young man in segregated Alabama, was positively influenced by Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

This page turns to a “good trouble” activist in Florida for environmental justice. She is Susan Cerulean. Maybe your Florida kayak glide, escorted above by a fish-hunting osprey, brought you to love this confounding state where I live. Or perhaps your Florida habit began via books by Zora Neale Hurston, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, or with Oranges by John McPhee, or any of the several books of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, such Hurricane or her best-known, Everglades, River of Grass. Or, perhaps your student brought home from the school library, the rambunctious Florida eco-warrior Skink in the YA novel Skink, No Surrender, a character first crafted years ago in his adult fiction, by Carl Hiaasen.

Whatever the reason you commune with the idea of Florida, please look for the works of our state’s excellent, revered, unique literary eco-definer and eco-defender, Susan Cerulean.

I don’t often depart from children’s literature, especially poetry, as my theme at this site. But please pay attention to an extraordinary new double-memoir, I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird, (University of Georgia Press.) Susan Cerulean movingly blends her care for Florida and its ecosystems, including nesting terns that like to lay eggs where tourists tromp, with her care for her beloved Father, who like so many, migrates to Florida from elsewhere. In this case, from New Jersey.

 

I created a poem in celebration of her extraordinary story. I hope you will find some time for I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird. The birth of it brings a unique author-opportunity next week.  (shared at the end with other resources)

 

Your assignment

 

How to know what it is.

 

Accompanied

by a brightening of the sky at the engaging moment.

Likely, not.

 

What is the assignment? 

Who is the assignment?  

 

The assignment may arrive

as a thin needle jab

of torreya tree you petted in a park

now stuck in pain under your fingernail

so that you can’t forget this struggling creature.

 

 

The assignment may arrive

when your diabetic neighbor calls from her doorway

as you take your nightly walk. At her front step, you learn

you are to dress her unending toe wound.

 

You can’t know the assignment in advance.

 

Just know, it will call.

~JGAnnino, 2020

 

 

I hope you will want to meet Susan Cerulean in a digital meet up 6 p.m. August 7.

Susan Cerulean photograph copyright, Jeff Chanton, all rights reserved

Sample the book in this review by novelist, poet, memoirist Trish (Pat) MacEnulty. Enjoy a feature on it by author and editor, Kathleen Laufenberg.

If you can encourage your library or bookstore or reading group to create an event for this book, contact Susan and please say I sent you.

full disclosure

In addition to her own writing, Susan Cerulean is an environmental nonfiction anthologist. She edited Milkweed Editions’ The Book of the Everglades, which included my chapter, and, works from Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, Susan Orlean, the late famed sea turtle author-scientist Archie Carr, poet Lola Haskins, and longtime Miami Herald columnist and novelist Carl Hiaasen.

I have been friends and writing colleagues with Sue for more four decades. And following I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird, I’ve a hope for what’s next between her book covers  ~ Ursus, which walk, feed, birth and die here in crazy Florida, barely.

:::::::

Poetry Friday is organized and cheered today from the pages of READING TO THE CORE.  Learn more about Poetry Friday from Renee M. LaTulippe. Please keep scrolling to leave your thought in the moderated comments box, with my appreciations.

 

 

6 thoughts on “#SusanCerulean: I Have Been Assigned The Single Bird

  1. Thank you for introducing me to Susan Cerulean’s writing. Your found poem makes me want to read more. I love these final lines: “You can’t know the assignment in advance./Just know, it will call.” Such a profound truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was born and raised in Florida, though I’ve never been to southern Florida. (I hate hot weather, and going even FURTHER south never ever entered my mind.) I love the poem you wrote–a deep theme but with such vivid particulars. That needle jab and toe wound will both stay with me. I am looking around me, today, wondering what my assignment will be…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a fascinating memoir. The title is most intriguing, as is your poem. Life does bring us curious and surprising assignments. I have a brother who lives in Florida, but I’ve never spent much time there. I have read some books that happen there, including a couple by Carl Hiaasen. But I’m looking forward to reading and learning more about Susan Cerulean.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, Jan! So many assignments today. What a wonderful poem to celebrate this activist author. Thank you for sharing with the wonderful reminders of FL lit. I do love Ms. Zora Neale Hurston about the best. Man, that woman could get the words right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d love to read this book and acquaint myself with this author. I have a place in my heart for Florida, where my parent lived at the end of their lives, and the wildlife there. It’s a spectacular place that needs care. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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