Mountain Writers Series
Mountain Writers Series at Vie de Bohème
presents reading & book launch featuring
reading from his latest book of poetry
When We Were Birds
2016 Finalist Miller Williams Poetry Prize
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Vie de Bohème
SE 7th & Clay on Portland's Distillery Row
1530 SE 7th Avenue, Portland 97214
Suggested donation $5
About When We Were Birds
“Joe Wilkins’ poems are located in the tradition of the sacred, but holiness here is found in common experience. When We Were Birds, as the title indicates, is full of imaginative novelty as well as reminders that miraculous secrets are hidden in the fabric of everyday life.”
"This gritty collection from Joe Wilkins showcases how the outdoors can be a classroom for all matters of the heart: it sneaks devastating truths and disjunctions into soil and shattered rivers, into places where 'a vole snouts / through my throat, where a tree frog's scream / fills my heart's dark riffle." When We Were Birds doesn't just contemplate all ruin and hard work, where 'the backs of my hands / had lustered clear to burlap or dry river mud,' but also masterfully showcases a magnificent spill and glide of beautiful language even if the speaker begs, 'O god / of busted wishes / leave me here a long time here / in the stinking dark.'"
"The most striking component of [Wilkins's work] is its awareness of the whole world. What is ordinary becomes transcendent. In places derelict and seemingly unexceptional, Wilkins compels us to recognize what is worth salvage, worth praise."
Joe Wilkins is the author of the memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers (2012), which was named a 2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book, as well as a 2013 Orion Book Award finalist. He has also published two poetry books: Killing the Murnion Dogs (2011), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award, and Notes from the Journey Westward (2012), winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award. His essays, poems, and stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and anthologies. Wilkins was born and raised in eastern Montana, graduated from Gonzaga University and earned an MFA from the University of Idaho, where he worked with the poet Robert Wrigley and memoirist Kim Barnes. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.