50 States of Generosity: New York
We’re starting a new series at Tweetspeak — 50 States of Generosity. We’ll be highlighting the 50 states of America and giving people beautiful ways to understand and be generous with one another by noticing the unique and poetic things each state brings to the country. A more generous people in the States can become a more generous people in the world. We begin with New York.
New York (capital Albany): State Bird—Eastern Bluebird
For Christmas I received a book about birds, and so I found myself writing bird poems. Next I looked it up on my go-to bird site, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (located in Ithaca) and decided to write a bluebird haiku. The next day I learned the Eastern bluebird is the state bird of New York.
come omen of hope
bluebird blue before blue dawn
Sing for us. Sing fast.
Tweetspeak Poetry is New York-based — not in The Big Apple, but further out, where white pines grow near the mighty Hudson River. The Eastern bluebird is not a big-city bird, but prefers pastures, fields, and golf courses. Its song is quick, almost a whistle.
More than a hundred years ago Maurice Maesterlinck wrote a play called L’Oseau, or The Bluebird. It is from this work, perhaps, that we get the idea of the Bluebird of Happiness. Or perhaps we need to travel further back and around the globe, to the bluebird myths of China, Russia, and France, and then back to this land and the bluebird tales of the Navajo and the Cochiti. New York contains multitudes, as does the bluebird.
Wherever the bluebird is found, it has something to say about hope, about looking up into the blue air and filling your red heart with breath (red like a rose, which is New York’s state flower!). The state’s jingle is “I Love New York.” Its quarter proclaims it is the “gateway to freedom.” And its motto is “Excelsior,” ever upward, just like its bluebird.
With promises like that, New York is definitely worth a visit. Start with poetry, if you please.
Poetry Prompt: New York Generosities
Use any of the things you learned about New York (research more, if you want!), and put one or more of them into a poem. If you like, weave in a little generosity. Share in the comments.
More About New York: Poets & Writers + Landmarks
Walt Whitman (Brooklyn)
Langston Hughes (Harlem)
Edith Wharton (Manhattan)
Billy Collins, a U.S. poet laureate (Manhattan, Queens, White Plains, and Somers)
The Statue of Liberty, a lasting landmark of a generous spirit of welcome (Liberty Island, NYC)
Niagra Falls is a popular destination
“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro