Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

PoetrySnaps! Wendy Videlock: Deconstruction

Courtesy Wendy Videlock

Writer Wendy Videlock describes poetic inspiration as being ambushed. An idea emerges and then tells her where to go. In her poem, Deconstruction, Videlock, uses an array of bird species to symbolize the infinite experience of being human.

Wendy Videlock:

When I was young, my mother read poetry to me. She read Gerard Manley Hopkins who is known for Pied Beauty and other really over-the-top musical interludes in the world of poetry. I was hooked! I wanted to make music with words, too.

For the most part, you get ambushed. You know, something hits you, and you can do nothing but write it down and work with it. You’re just kind of obsessing over it until you’ve pretty much got it down.

Sometimes it feels like it’s a gift coming to you, and other times you feel like it’s a responsibility that’s been give you and you better figure out what’s supposed to happen next. And when that hits, you just kind of get out of the way. That’s kind of the way my process is: to let the poem meet me halfway.

I’m also a visual artist and I find the same process…if I just throw down some colors and some shapes, then it will kind of tell me which way to go. So, it’s very much an emerging thing.


The chickadee is all about truth.

The finch is a token. The albatross

is always an omen. The kestrel is mental,

the lark is luck, the grouse is dance,

the goose is quest.  The need for speed

is given the peregrine, and the dove’s

been blessed with the feminine. 

The quail is word, and culpability. 

The crane is the dean of poetry.

The swift is the means to agility,

the waxwing mere civility,

the sparrow a nod to working class

nobility.  The puffin’s the brother

of laughter, and prayer, the starling the student

of Baudelaire. The mockingbird

is the sound of redress, the grackle the uncle

of excess. The flicker is rhythm,

the ostrich is earth, the bluebird a simple

symbol of mirth. The oriole

is the fresh start. The magpie prince

of the dark arts. The swallow is home

and protection -- the vulture the priest

of purification, the heron a font

of self-reflection.  The swisher belongs

to the faery realm. Resourcefulness

is the cactus wren.  The pheasant is sex,

the chicken is egg, the eagle is free,

the canary the bringer of ecstasy.

The martin is peace.  The stork is release.

The swan is the mother of cool discretion. 

The loon is the watery voice of the moon. 

The owl’s the keeper of secrets, grief,

and fresh fallen snow, and the crow

has the bones of the ancestral soul.

About the poet:

Wendy Videlock is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Slingshots and Love Plums, The Dark Gnu and Other Poems and Nevertheless. She was recently awarded the 2022 Cantor Prize for her poem Ode to the Slow. Videlock is based in Palisade, Colorado.

About the host:

Steven Law is a poet, journalist and educator based in Page, Arizona. He is the author of a collection of poems called Polished.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!
Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.