Friday, July 31, 2015

Bimblebox 153 Birds

In April, I saw an interesting call for submissions for poets and writers.

The Bimblebox Nature Reserve, a 8,000 hectare property in the Desert Uplands Bioregion of Central West Queensland, Australia, was facing mining development in and around the reserve.

All photos courtesy Bimblebox Art Project.
One of the projects they embarked on to help save the reserve was an art project where they looked for artist/poet/musicians to create artworks around each of the 153 species of birds that have been observed in the reserve.

While I'm not a birder or someone who writes deliberately about birds, some of the poems in my last book Stowaways, featured descriptions of birdsong as footnotes, mostly as a way to bring in more data about the world of the poem.

Intrigued, I had a look at the list of birds that hadn't yet been claimed. And they had a raptor left, the Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), which makes things much easier. I'm somehow not really a songbird person...
So I wrote/workshopped/recorded my poem and send it off, as did many other Canadian nature poets, including Yvonne Blomer, Jenna Butler, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Kerry Ryan, and Laura Lamont.

The project is now being exhibited at galleries all over Australia and project coordinator (and artist) Jill Sampson has posted some of the artworks to the Bimblebox website, with the following description.

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"153 Artists created 153 artworks. 153 writers created 153 poems & prose. 153 musicians interpreted the written onomatopoeia and mnemonic notations for these birds creating 153 bird calls. This is Bimblebox 153 Birds.

Bimblebox 153 Birds was exhibited at the Impress Printmakers Studio and Gallery, Brisbane in May 2015. It was astonishing to see so many species of birds filling the gallery. Audio of the writers poetry & prose mixed with the musicians' bird calls played into the gallery. A listening station provided the opportunity to choose to listen through headphones to any of the audios by the writers and musicians. Also provided in folders were printed copies of the bird inspired poetry and prose.

Bimblebox 153 Birds was officially opened by Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO. Ian gave an inspired, informative, and entertaining opening address. Ian spoke to us about the global, national, local and personal cost of developing more coal mines and in particular what we risk losing by destroying the Bimblebox Nature Refuge for coal mining. Ian reminded us with his compelling insight and all-encompasing science that Climate Change is the great challenge to ongoing life on planet Earth, our home. Ian spoke about the myriad forms of life that make up the incredible biodiversity of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge and finished his address with a poem penned especially for this occasion."

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My thanks to Jill Sampson for keeping all the artists and artworks untangled and to the members of the Electronic Garrett for their feedback.

Also useful was the internet, whose various birding sites helped me to 'see' the Brown Falcon.

Finally, here are the credits for the finished piece: "Brown Falcon, Poet Ariel Gordon, Musician Myf Turpin on piano. Compiled and mixed by Boyd."

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