[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)
How to know what it is.
by a brightening of the sky at the engaging moment.
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.
I hope you will want to meet Susan Cerulean in a digital meet up 6 p.m. August 7.
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.
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.