Feeding Wild Birds: Poetry that puts humans back in nature

Aug 4, 2013

Kalamazoo poet Rob Haight reading from his book 'Feeding Wild Birds' in the WMUK studio.
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

Kalamazoo poet Rob Haight will read from his new book of poetry Feeding Wild Birds at Michigan News Agency on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Haight mostly writes about the animals, plants, and seasons of Southwest Michigan. He’s known for his ability to relate nature to the human experience.

“You know humans are a part of nature too. And the way that I see the world is a living thing. So for me, metaphors that kind of are either metaphors by themselves or end up being personification of natural elements just seem to come kind of naturally. I see the world as an animated place full of activity, full of life. And when one observes it carefully enough I think you start to see that there’s a lot of personality in what we would consider to be a lifeless inanimate thing.”

Haight teaches writing and literature at Kalamazoo Valley Community College as well as meditation—which he says helps him with his poetry.

“I think that poetry tends to come from a quiet place and meditation is a way of, on a regular basis, kind of tapping into that quiet place. Learning to sit back and allow things to come and go without necessarily trying to act on them. And poetry writing is similar in that you usually work from a silence. And if you try to push it, you try to force language onto the poems, usually I think it ends up being kind of frustrating. So when you’re more comfortable with that waiting period I think it ends up being kind of a more productive process in the long run.”

Most of Feeding Wild Birds is about nature, but it’s also about family and spirituality. Haight often writes about his late parents, how their old things can still bring up a handful of memories. In his poem “Mother After the Stroke,” Haight talks about how his mother almost seemed happier after having a stroke because she no longer had negative feelings toward people around her.