[Post redacted because when did it ever help anyone…]

[Post redacted because when did it ever help anyone to read articles like this on their birthdays?]

45 Collective Nouns for Ones With Wings

  1. A ballet of swans
  2. A bazaar of guillemots
  3. A building of rooks
  4. A business of flies
  5. A cast of hawks
  6. A chain of bobolinks
  7. A charm of finches
  8. A company of widgeons
  9. A conspiracy of ravens
  10. A convocation of eagles
  11. A cover of coots
  12. A deceit of lapwings
  13. A descent of woodpeckers
  14. A dropping of pigeons
  15. A drumming of grouse
  16. A durante of toucans
  17. A gatling of woodpeckers
  18. A grist of bees
  19. A gulp of cormorants
  20. A hum of bees
  21. A kettle of hawks
  22. A lamentation of swans
  23. A murmuration of starlings
  24. A mustering of storks
  25. A mutation of thrushes
  26. An ostentation of peacocks
  27. A nye of pheasants
  28. A pandemonium of parrots
  29. A piteousness of doves
  30. A pladge of wasps
  31. A rafter of turkeys
  32. A rush of pochard
  33. A siege of herons
  34. A skein of geese
  35. A skulk of quail
  36. A sord of mallards
  37. A spring of teal
  38. A squabble of seagulls
  39. A stand of flamingo
  40. A tiding of magpies
  41. A tok of capercaillie
  42. An ubiquity of sparrows
  43. An unkindness of ravens
  44. A wake of buzzards
  45. A wisdom of owls

Also, here are collective nouns for some larger beasts, for some smaller ones, and for some that swim.

(Selected from this list at BLTC. Art print by Connor Campbell.)

“The Art of Description: World Into Word,” by Mark Doty

I admire “The Art of…” series from Graywolf, meant to “restore the art of criticism while illuminating the art of writing.” I’m not sure the art of criticism needs to be “restored” but the art of writing can always use more illuminating, and these books are solid, somewhere between long magazine articles and full books of criticism, both in their length and their readability.

Doty’s is the first of the series that I’ve read cover to cover, mostly because it’s such a joyful rendering of the work of written description, “joy” here meaning not necessarily happiness but full, heartfelt engagement with the experience, satisfying openness to what it is. Also winsome is Doty’s appreciation of every size or density of description, from spare poetry with quiet spaces and gaps, to poetry piled up with phrases and catalogues of experience.

You’ll learn the necessary lingo reading this book, and some practical techniques, for sure, but these aren’t presented as much as they are a lively part of Doty’s reflections on the value, frustrations, and pleasures of each subject. It’s a small, short book, but it feels expansive because Doty lives his subject in front of us–describing describing. He’s not just telling us anything, he’s practicing the work, embodying the challenge, as he goes.

Specific highlights of the book for me include: Doty’s discussion of “exactness” in Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish.” His “six principles of principles of figurative speech” accompanying a discussion of May Swenson’s “Little Lion Face.” And many of the more random, personal observations in his “A-Z of Description” that make up the second half of the book.

(Buy Mark Doty’s The Art of Description: World into Word.)

60 Ways to Use Your Library Card

1. Download an e-book.  Over 3/4 of libraries offer access to e-books. E-book readers are available for check-out at nearly 40 percent of libraries.

2. Not sure how to download an e-book on your new device? A librarian can show you how. Take a workshop on how to use your e-reader or other gadgets.

4. Use Free Wi-Fi. Almost 91 percent of public library outlets offer wireless Internet access.

7. Find love at the library: meet like-minded mates at a library speed dating event (or check out a romance novel.)

8. Learn check mate: attend a library game night.

13. Ask for a recommended reading list for your kids.

16. Build your young reader’s self esteem by letting her read to a dog at the library.

18. Launch your future: Get free assistance with job searches, resume writing and interviewing tips.

26. Book a meeting room for your club or community organization.

28. Spend an hour with a “living book”; see if your library has a list of local experts who can share their knowledge on different subjects – like knitting, taxes, or training for a triathalon – or simply share a bit about themselves.

37. Hear a local author reading his/her latest novel.

47. Volunteer as a literacy tutor.

49. Enjoy a concert.

50.…then borrow some sheet music.

58. Go back in time: use databases or microfiche to access early newspapers or rent a “classic” movie, like “Back to the Future.”

60. Learn new knitting techniques and get new patterns.

(See the rest of the list at @ Your Library.)

Alliterative History Parlor Game

From Mrs. Burton Kingsland’s 1904 book, Traditional Indoor and Outdoor Games:

Provide the company with pads and pencils and request that each one shall write an account of some historical event, familiarly known, every word of which shall begin with the same letter…A time-limit is set, and at its expiration the essays are read aloud. A secret ballot is taken to determine which narrative is thought to be the most clever.

The following examples will explain the modus operandi:

(Found at The Children’s Nursery.)

Hardly a Word To Say

squamaceous adj. covered with or consisting of scales

Seriously, everything is for sale online, even a pair of jeans with red squamaceous pockets.

Galway Kinnell Reads “The Bear” in 1973

I love this poem and read it aloud at least once to each creative writing class I teach. I could begin bullet-pointing the reasons why, but no.

Just listen, and if you want to spend more than 4:54 with the bear, there are a handful of questions afterward for your intellectual and/or meditative pleasure…

Read the poem along with the video. At what specific words does the feeling of the poem–or your expectation of the rest of the poem–or the significance of the poem–change? What happens to you or to the poem at each of these words?

Ezra Pound wrote that the proper and perfect symbol is the natural object, that if a man use ‘symbols’ he must so use them that their symbolic function does not obtrude; so that a sense, and the poetic quality of the passage, is not lost to those who do not understand the symbol as such, to whom, for instance, a hawk is a hawk. Is Kinnell’s bear a bear? Is the bear a ___? When did you begin to feel this in the poem? Why or how did that feeling overtake you?

What sorts of pain or pleasure might it have caused Kinnell to write this poem? Why do you think so?

This poem is rock ‘n roll. Why do you think so/not?

(“The Bear” is in Kinnell’s New Selected Poems. Which you can buy if you click that link.)