Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Polyphony Bruna's "Eastern Screech Owl"

"For December’s Eastern Screech Owl, I chose to start off with an ink wash base after sketching my design. This is a process using white watercolor and black india ink that results in the distorted background. I used this technique because it would mimic tree bark and give the piece a woodsy tone. Another reason for choosing an ink wash is because the important part of this process, the distortion, occurs outside of the influence of the artist—the reaction between the watercolor and the india ink is impossible to predict and its results differ each time. By having this texture be created outside of my own influence, the result would not be artificially created and therefore more accurately reflect the nature tone. On top of this layer, I used watercolor to lay down the initial coloring. By adding the color with watercolor first, I was able to focus on creating the texture of the owl’s plumage when I went in with colored pencil later. Colored pencil was good for this purpose of adding texture because it has sharper and thinner strokes that would stand out against the softer watercolor. These techniques combine to produce a contrast between the bareness of the background and the richness of the owl that creates intrigue for the viewer. In this way, the Eastern Screech Owl embodies the warm richness of life against the cold bareness of December."

—Polyphony Bruna

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Polyphony Bruna: IBOM's New Young Artist

Polyphony, a wonderfully talented artist and Ames High School student, will be creatively rendering our spotlight birds, starting with the crow. Welcome to the flock, Polyphony! We look forward to seeing uyour work throughout the IBOM project.

"Hello! My name is Polyphony Bruna; I am 16 years old and a junior at Ames High School. I have been interested in and exposed to art all my life, but it was not until just over five years ago that I began properly studying art. It was also around that time that I began entering my work in various regional and national competitions as well as having my work featured in exhibits. I am proud to have won prestigious awards such as Best in Show in 2014's Iowa Youth Art Month (Sargent Art Award) and, in 2016, a Grant Wood Legacy Prize. It was through these competitions, as well as the various summer art courses I have taken, that I got to meet a supportive community of fellow artists and art educators while sharing my work and improving my skills. As a high schooler, I enjoy taking full advantage of being able to take art electives and am very involved in my school's art department. In fact, during my freshman year, I co-founded my high school’s first Art Club, which I currently lead. Then, during my sophomore year, I worked to establish National Art Honors Society at my school as a branch of the Art Club. I feel that it is very important for art programs to be offered and supported in schools, and I am honored to have played such a crucial role in expanding the reach of art at my school. It makes me so happy when I hear one of my peers say that although they are not able to take any art classes, they can still keep art in their life because of our Art Club. My ability to support the arts at our school stems from the support I have always received growing up, both from the art community and family/friends. This environment secured, from a young age, my belief in the value of art both as a hobby and, more importantly, a legitimate career option. The community I have become a part of through pursuing art is indispensable, and it has shaped who I am today."
"When given the American Crow for November’s featured bird, I knew that I wanted to use black india ink as my primary medium. This is because india ink is very pigmented and would provide a rich, deep black color that would provide the power that the crow, a stylistic and well-recognized symbol in our culture, demands. It was also for this reason that I chose to remain monochromatic. The tendrils extending from the bottom and the bird’s wings were created by blowing drops of diluted ink using a straw. The placement of the tendrils was chosen to contrast the sky and the ground. This contrast positions the crow within the piece. Appearing as an ominous figure, this crow acts as a harbinger of the darkness that marks the time change in November."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Thank you," said the crow.

We're half way through November! Now's the time to share your words on birds and show your support for public art and the environment. Our new newsletter has excerpts from "Poem for the American Crow" and a link to Canuck and I, Vancouver's most famous crow who stole a knife from a crime scene. Thanks for turning us on to Canuck, Phyllis C Yearick!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tallkin' Crow on KHOI

Check out Tyler Harms and I talking crows on KHOI Community Radio's local talk, last Friday, November 11. You can hear an archived version via the link below. What a great show, featuring an interview with Dennis Maulsby in which I learned about "pyric herbivory"! KHOI has been a huge supporter of Iowa Bird of Mouth, and we're psyched to support them during their fundraising drive this week!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

11/5 We're Crowd-sourcing for the Crow in Osceola!

Join us for a one hour artist talk with the 2016 Iowa Arts Council Fellows. We'll be crowd-sourcing a verse for Iowa Bird of Mouth's "Poem for the American Crow"!
If you combined the talents of the latest batch of Iowa Arts Council Fellows into a single artist, that person could photograph their own spoken-word performance, which was inspired by a drawing they made to illustrate one of their poems. Fortunately, all that creative firepower belongs not to a single artist but five, who will crisscross the state over the next few months. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Six Days Left to Submit to "Poem for the Ring-Necked Pheasant"

Like the birds themselves, "Poem for the Ring-Necked Pheasant" has turned out to be a Very Different Animal than "Poem for the Goldfinch." Here's the poem so far. Share your words in this swirling, psychedelic (and sometimes sad) crowd-sourced poem before we switch to the Crow (!!!) November 1. Click here to submit!
"Poem for the Ring-necked Pheasant"
There aint too much to say bout that.
I was only lonely once in my life.
I wrapped a ring around my neck and fell asleep pleasantly.
The patterns on my feathers contain
every color in the spectrum: pumpkin,
wood, snow, anthill, frosting, geode,
disco ball, etc. My "Caw!" was a gift
from Mongolia. The tips of my wings,
like thin fingers zinging a harp.
Chinese fireworks in feather explodes
from the cornrows, craw full and dogs below.
Hens are wiser and hang behind.
Full choke Browning brays six point pellets.
Mottled feathers pop from his chest,
drift on the west wind as the bird’s plumes flatten,
and he outraces them to the ground.
A dappled pointer bitch intercepts him.
Like a ground-bound MIG she mouths
him softly and deposits him at her
master's feet, adulation and triumph
powering her tail.
By Steve Rose
There is not much I know about pheasant;
except once I had it cooked in honest mustard,
and it was quite pleasant.
The reporter stands in the hurricane chamber.
"This is...a category three," he wheezes,
skin pulling from his face.
I am in Iowa where there are no hurricanes,
but where a windstorm
brought us the Ring-necked Pheasant.
I'm waiting for a windfall of money;
I don't care where it blows in from.
Some of my neighbors say they'd never
take Illinois money, but how would they know.
Prairie pride stains cheeks red.
Indigo neck echoes the rich dyes
reserved only for kings, only for queens.
It shimmers in ultraviolet hues,
a spectrum of color, and history,
the human eye cannot see.
sibling victory
spotting a pheasant from the
back seat of the Ford
in every letter you write your loneliness
to me obvious as color
but i know better than to succumb
you will find wing someday
Ring-necked, I ring with color
above and below my priestless collar,
green head, masked for your red death.
Don’t shoot, go home, cook up your meth.
Kill yourself, leave my wild speckled body alone;
Iowa, O Iowa, my accidental home.
Poisoned streams, rivers, lakes, ferti-laced fields,
Thanks, wind, for blowing me free, unconcealed.
What poor stewards we have been, uncaring curators
while these beauties crossed our roads.
I used to see them in the morning scurrying
but when I see them now hardly ever but when I do
I know they are numbered with numbers smaller than our numbered days.
We ringed their necks with our forks our guns our knives our greed.
See! from the brake the whirring pheasant springs,
And mounts exulting on triumphant wings:
Short is his joy; he feels the fiery wound,
Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground.
Ah! what avail his glossy, varying dyes, 115
His purple crest, and scarlet-circled eyes,
The vivid green his shining plumes un-fold,
His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold?
Frosting feathers.
Spots and dots.
A glottal trill and
cocoa velvet thrills
the air where
electric blue sky
meets roots above
ground, one thousand
miles from the sea.

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Video: How to submit to Iowa Bird of Mouth

The launch party at the Ames Public Library was amazing! Thank you, Mary and Lynne, for your incredible hospitality! You make us feel legit! Thanks to the phenomenal readers and speakers, Heather Derr-Smith, Tyler Harms of Iowa Young Birders, Meg Johnson, Claire Krüesel
and Molly McDonald. And thanks to everyone who turned out and kept the poem in the air!

The feedback I received was that people liked learning how to use the site, so I made this video. Let me know what you think!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The IBOM theme song!

Can't think of a better way to start the IBOM launch partay day than with our new theme song, by Ames' own Quërvo featuring Strong Like Bear Hope to see you at the launch party at the Ames Public Library tonight for readings with Heather Derr-SmithMeg JohnsonClaire Krüesel, and Molly McDonald! With special guest star, Tyler Harms of Iowa Young Birders!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Launch Party is Almost Here!

Thanks, Ronna Lawless and KHOI Community Radio, for helping us spread the word! See you tomorrow at the Ames Public Library!

Monday, August 29, 2016

We're Open for Submissions!

Iowa Bird of Mouth is open for submissions (two days early, but what the heck?)! written in any style—from rhyming, metered verse, to free-flowing prose, to an actual memory—or even just a one-word thought. We seek the words and stories of bird lovers, bird watchers, writers, artists, musicians, teachers, students, scientists, non-profits, federal and state organizations, environmental stewards, and nature lovers from around the world—regardless of age, education, publication history, location or writing style. This is open source-text, for use in non-commercial projects. Lay some bird-related poetry on us, peeps!

"Crow-d sourced!"

We're a "Best Best"...

in the Des Moines Register's Art & Entertainment Section! Because we're so gosh darn entertaining! Thanks, DMR!

From Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Iowa Bird of Mouth Launch Party

Friday, September 16 at 7 PM - 8 PMAmes Public Library
515 Douglas Ave, Ames, Iowa 50010

Join us for a flighty evening of bird-inspired verse and music to celebrate the launch of Iowa Bird of Mouth—a twelve-month crowdsourced poetry project honoring Iowa birds.

Performers include:

Heather Derr-Smith
Meg Johnson
Jennifer L. Knox
Claire Krüesel
Molly McDonald

Together, attendees will write a verse and post it to the poem LIVE! Afterwards you can take to streets for the Maximum Ames Music Festival 2016.

Facebook event

"Birds of a Feather" on KHOI

Greta Anderson of KHOI radio in Ames talks with Jennifer L. Knox about IBOM. Also on the show, KHOI wildlife correspondent Pat Schlarbaum discusses the Iowa DNR’s osprey project.

Read more here