The Songbird Catcher is a poetry collection that unites personal narratives, especially of girls and women, with the tragic—and sometimes joyful—political events that surround and shape our lives. These personal narratives begin with the arrival of a Jewish immigrant family at Ellis Island and continue to include experiences of domestic abuse, best friends separated by class division, a high school girl’s enchantment by her first exposure to poetry, a hurtful first love, and much more.
The more overtly political poems range the globe from Nicaragua to Haiti, from Juarez, Mexico to Palestine, from Iraq to the Congo. All the poems are seen through the lens of a politically conscious author. Throughout the book, poems that express our connection with nature provide a respite, as well as a metaphor for the world that
About the Author
Barbara Leon was born to a Russian Jewish immigrant family. She grew up in the 1950’s on a poultry farm in a small, conservative Connecticut town. She worked for years in New York City as a social worker, then began a career in journalism, writing, and editing. She married and had one child.
In recent years, she has struggled with typical issues of aging, while reestablishing her connection with nature, especially the rugged beauty of California’s Central Coast, where she now lives. Barbara recently retired from her position as lead writer and editor for a natural health company. Her poems have appeared in a wide range of journals, magazines and anthologies. The Songbird Catcher is her first book.
“The Songbird Catcher achieves its power through a brave heart, intelligence, and precise observations. These poems range widely through personal history, injustice and tragedy, and the wonder of the natural world. Barbara Leon takes on large political and social issues, bringing them to life through vivid details. Near the end of the volume, watching the humpback lift its great bulk and leap from the water, she writes, I believe I could break through to light. In these poems, she does just that—and brings us with her.”
- -Ellen Bass, poet, teacher, author of Like a Beggar
“Barbara Leon's The Songbird Catcher, part litany, part love-song, and part prayer, gathers together the memories, imagery, and daily occurrences of a life lived with a careful attention to detail. Her gift of noticing, of taking the time to slow down an observed moment and meditate on it, gives direction and heart to this first collection of poems.”
-- Dorianne Laux, teacher in the MFA program at North Carolina State University and award-winning poet, whose fifth collection is The Book of Men.