2018 Contest Winner

A Bird Who Seems to Know Me

Wally Swist

In this collection, noted poet Wally Swist evokes the natural world as exemplified by birds of numerous species. A watchful observer, he skillfully portrays avian life in the forest and fields of rural Massachusetts. Readers will soon find themselves immersed in the visually and sonorously rich world these poems create.

From A Bird Who Seems to Know Me

In The Silence

The ruby-red cluster of false Solomon’s seal
berries stud their dangling mustard-yellow leaves.

After its shadow crosses mine,
a marsh hawk perches high on a pine limb;

the guttural clicks of its call repeat,
the glint of eyes backlit against the sunset.

I listen to the crickets answer each other
all night, savor the ringing of their sprockets.

In early September cold, their voices pause,
then cease after the first hard frost.


“Wally Swist always surprises me with what wildness he notices everywhere. Even the most streetwise of birds seem to know more than we do, always. Wally Swist believes that. His poems capture awe and that feeling that birds barely tolerate or notice us. This is wildness at its best – as Swist writes, ‘The aloneness almost too much / for one man.'”

Christine Woodside

 Editor, Appalachia Journal

About the Author

Wally Swist

Wally Swist has published over forty books and chapbooks of poetry and prose, including Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as co-winner in the 2011 Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Contest, and Daodejing: A New Interpretation (Lamar University Press, 2015).

His translations have been and/or will be published in Chicago Quarterly Review, Chiron Review, Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation, and Transference: A Literary Journal Featuring the Art & Process of Translation, (Western Michigan Department of Languages), and Woven Tale Press.