Flightpath is a far-ranging anthology of poetry and prose inspired by the migratory birds of the world, with contributions from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Edited by Virginia Jealous, the collection features linocut illustrations by Victoria Castiglione. A limited cloth-bound hardback edition of Flightpath was launched in Denmark, Western Australia on October 13th, at the Arts House. The edition is now sold out.
From Virginia’s introduction:
‘It’s mid-morning, a low tide. Post-typhoon humidity infiltrates mangroves and estuary, thickens the air. Migratory birds line the water’s edge, sleep head-under-wing in the shallows and move in serried ranks across exposed mudflats. They feed voraciously and strategically, according to length of leg and bill, depth of water and habitat of prey; a pecking order of the truest kind. They are here in their thousands and their names are poetry – gadwalls and godwits, snipes, stints and sandpipers, tattlers and turnstones.
Beyond the birds lies a shipping channel. Perhaps 300m away, a massive cargo ship surges past. Tugs rattle and chug, outboards thrum. Beyond the channel, equidistant, is the shore of mainland China; the skyscrapers, factories and grey haze of industrial Shenzhen in silhouette.
Some wild instinct draws these birds without borders here at this time each year. They come to rest and refuel, escaping the imminent Arctic winter for feeding grounds in the southern hemisphere’s summer. The migrants cleave to this thin green line of protected wilderness; their very existence protects it as much as it protects them. These mangroves and mudflats are part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, an invisible, intangible but internationally significant corridor of air that guides the birds between refuges. It’s book-ended by Siberia in the north and New Zealand in the south. That’s a long, long way to fly.
What do we see when we look at these birds? Where in the world have they come from and how do they survive? How do we tell our own stories of movement and migration?
These questions struck a chord. Contributions for this collection came, like the birds, from many places: from India and Poland, from Singapore and Sydney and San Francisco; from crowded cities and the edge of oceans and the quiet of bush-blocks. Work selected here explores notions of home and the experience of alienation; it meditates on both the mystery of departure and the astonishment of arrival. The poems and stories are funny and wise, thought-provoking and joyful, outrageous and outraged, world-weary and wide-eyed. They take us on unanticipated routes to unexpected places. I hope you enjoy the journey.’
Virginia Jealous has published poetry, travel journalism and essays. Her bird pieces range from poems in journals and anthologies to articles for Birdlife Australia and The Weekend Australian, and birding destinations for Lonely Planet . She has been part of bird surveys from remote Australia to the high Himalaya, and is also a long-time advocate for asylum seekers making flights of a different kind. Virginia’s second collection of poems, Hidden World, was published by Hallowell Press in 2013. She curated the blog www.flightpathproject.wordpress.com