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Paperback, 6″ x 9″
43 pages
ISBN 978-1-63381-303-8

by Betsy Headley

This book is a collection of poems and bird photographs. Betsy’s words and images of nature are woven throughout her book. Beauty and brutality, compassion and aging, and wisdom and wildlife are explored through a language of understanding. With
birds as her guide, she offers a clear vision.

* * *

The reverence of years engaged in following birds with her camera, getting to know them, continues to infuse Betsy’s poetry with a finely tuned focus. She is patient with the moment, capturing the fine details of beauty, pain, compassion, and insight.

In this new poetry collection, Betsy has crossed the boundary between the finely tuned observer and the observed. She has moved carefully into direct relationship with the living energy of her subjects. The reader can experience the poet, photographer, sandpiper, sea, and tree as one—the vision and the telling are one complete, integrated act.

—Barbaría María, poet, artist, teacher, author of Crossing Time and Palace Boulevard

 In The Clarity of Birds, Betsy Headley opens her heart and shares poems of both lamentation and celebration. Fully aware of the impending dangers of climate change, she observes a great blue heron perched in a tree long after she should have flown south and says, “Today I shiver for both of us.” She mourns for children caught in the political crossfires of immigration and war: “a caged child/with half shut eyes/unreadable.” And yet even when she’s experiencing the deepest sorrow—“sadness slithers/over her spine/dry like kindling”—she finds cause for celebration in the beauty and wisdom of the natural world. She willingly enters into communion with other beings—bumblebees waking from winter sleep, a sandpiper wading in the shallows, a loon diving in the harbor. Of the loon she says, “I could follow her/into the deep/capture my/shimmering self.” In these poems, Betsy Headley takes an unflinching look at this troubled world, and yet “in the open arms of inevitable darkness/she discovers the light.”

—Carolyn Locke, author of The Riddle of Yes, The Place We Become, Not One Thing: Following Matsuo Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior, and Always This Falling


Betsy Headley is a poet and photographer from Swanville, Maine. Something Is Always Left (2017) was her first poetry book, and The Clarity of Birds is her second. Betsy has a BA in anthropology and art and has taught English in China and Japan. Her photography has been shown in numerous exhibits throughout Maine. Betsy’s passion for wildlife, particularly birds, is reflected in her writing and photography.

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