25 January 2024
print 978-1-913665-91-3 £9.99
ebook 978-1-913665-92-0 £5
I actually – am – a bird
my cupped hands
opening to release me…
Phil Barnett’s relationship with birds, in particluar, is so close that his poetry blurs the distinctions between himself and the birds – a kind of ornimorphology where rather than giving the birds human characteristics, the reverse happens, and he occasionally imagines himself as a bird.
Phil Barnett is a photographer, writer, musician, artist, and naturalist, who has a passion for the birds that kept him company through a long hard illness. His photography and poetry have quite a following on social media, which is where we found him, on The Daily Haiku. His skill as a photographer leads to an acute visual sensibility, and his slow recovery moves from a tick sheet his mother had to fill in for him, to extraordinary poetry – full of wit and wonder, and spectacular language.
Birds Knit my Ribs Together is a heart-clenchingly beautiful healing in words. Birds, nature and man exist as one in this stunning collection. Reading these powerful poems is a meditative journey from a “lost jigsaw piece of sky […] with scar tissue dreams” and “eyes like a drowned village” (‘Wounds’) to “on every twig of every branch / buds, tiny resurrections” (‘A willow’s word’), taking in many wonders along the way.
These poems are windows onto moments of a life steeped in nature. At once perceptive and full of wonder, they captivate with a uniqueness and vibrancy, just as the sudden surprise of birds can startle us from our myopic existence.
An arresting, sensory, acutely observed and deeply poignant poetry. There is a uniquely tender and magical alchemy here that is instantly enchanting, between the sharing of a personal narrative around a debilitating illness and the transformative power of being in nature, pertinently amongst birds. Here is an exciting and imaginative poetic voice that is soft yet powerful – utterly beautiful.
Phil Barnett refreshes our sense of wonder at the natural world, his poems both tender and playful are like secrets shared.
The poems reside in nature but Phil resides within them and their flesh is readable. It’s like he’s tattooed them on his chest.
Chris Packham, Naturalist and TV Presenter