“I think the life of birds teaches us about the fragility of life, about freedom and captivity, about choices that lead to survival or death.  The life of birds teaches us about the power of instinct and the desire to eat, to mate, and to nurture the young. It teaches us about the transitory nature of both nature and life. The flight of birds has always been a powerful metaphor for freedom. And the wings of birds can be a metaphor for divine protection. The Psalmist seems to compare even God to a bird when he prays: “Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” For me, meditation on birds has provided freedom from anxiety. I often call to mind the passage from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life … Look at the birds of the air!” It reminds me that instead of worrying I can be bird-watching, and in so doing, discover again the miraculous provision of the Creator.”
~ Jane Beal, poet & author of Jazz BirdingWild Birdsong

“In her latest collection, Jane Beal employs Japanese forms to frame her distinctive American observations. From city to forest, the birdsongs she collects ring clear and resound deep in the reader. Her poems, plain speaking and uncluttered, speak directly of everyday experience, yet shimmer with the apprehension of the numinous. Like the birds she addresses in Mercy-Robins, Beal’s poems act as a bridge between the earthly and the spiritual, until even the apparently simple assertion that ‘Life goes on and on’ (Spring Promise) becomes more than comforting reassurance, taking on a celebratory expansiveness as large as the sky that surrounds her subjects.” ~ Oz Hardwick, poet & author of The Illuminated Dreamer

“‘Hear me! Stones have a song inside.’ So says Jane Beal in the opening poem to her new collection.  In these poems, deft and restrained amalgams of prose and haiku, Beal shows her willingness over and over again to plunge—with an affecting compassion—into the heart of each small thing to discover the songs it contains. Here, seagulls bicker and snicker, here vireos choir. Birds become in Beal’s handling winged revelators, angelic confirmations of the immanence of glory in this wondrous, wild, and skittish world. Beal’s jubilant poems show her to be a true peregrine, circling wide-eyed into fresh knowing.” ~ Kim Johnson, poet & author of A Metaphorical God

“Jane Beal’s riveted attention is on much that ought to be seen and remembered. She sees the grace and the fallen from grace. But, just as nature is pregnant with life, Jane Beal’s Wild Birdsong reminds us that many things in life are pregnant with meaning: sorrows, joys, delights all are, for the seeing, sacramental.” ~ Dr. Jerry Root, author of The Soul of C.S. Lewis



“The very title of Jane Beal’s latest collection, JAZZ BIRDING, has been hovering within my head, wings beating with its energy and insight and affirmation of the created world– what a pizzazz of words. “Jazz bird, the whole earth is listening!” an early poem declares, and the rest of the following ample collection of poems shows how the poet, too, listens. The seeing is precise, from the “barely-budded green leaves” just sticking out from the grey sky to a “fair fox chewing” in the tall grass. And the remembering and imagining are sharp–I think here of the poem about a friend’s father’s three hundred canaries, with their heart-expanding song, back in Cuba. What we have here, ultimately, from this medievalist-poet, is a Parliament of Fowls–cardinals, barn swallows, storm crows–various birds singing heavenly names, and the poet listening all the while. As she writes, “you make me / want to know who you are.” ~ Brett Foster, Professor of English at Wheaton College, Poet and Author of The Garbage Eater and Fall Run Road

“Message to bird-lovers: be sure to carry a field guide in one pocket and Jane Beal’s wonderful JAZZ BIRDING in the other—before even lifting binoculars, you’ll sight a mourning dove silhouetted against a Chicago sky, hear a raven preach, and meet a very lovely, freckled robin.  I’m going to keep a copy on hand for instant, inspired access to that other, winged world.” ~ Cynthia Kraman, Professor of English at the College of New Rochelle, Poet and Author of Taking on the Local Color and The Mexican Murals

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