Chap Chat: Penny Wilkes' Flying Lessons

Penny Wilkes' second collection, Flying Lessons (Finishing Line 2008), is comprised of humble reflections on nature, namely birds. Most of the deceptively simple poems revolve around the poet's interest in birds or use the creatures as a metaphor for joy, sadness, and hope. The book is more complex than it initially appears; the pieces carefully interlock with one another to reveal a meditative, compassionate speaker who delivers revelations like she does in "Black Phoebe:" "Birders say he protects his territory / when he zooms me that way. / What do they know of friendship?" She is also concerned with preserving life, big and small, as in "Feathered," where she wants to free a tethered owl, and "Swallows on the Alhambra Walls," which focuses on the rescue of a stunned bird. The book has a lasting warmth, as it focuses on a natural world that can be both teacher and friend. In fact, such a world is so engrossing it can consume the poet and the reader, as Wilkes writes in "Necessity:"

If I'm hiding
search for me
in a spider's dream
or web of twilight.
You might find me
in shadows gone
ladybug on a lemony
sway of eucalyptus.
Consider me in
the moon's crackle
above the pine.
I'm there just before
stars prickel dusk
with the promise
of what we most need.

If you are looking for pretty, kind, and accessible poems, Penny Wilkes' Flying Lessons is a good way to kick of your National Poetry Month celebration.

Happy Reading!

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