Iowa Bird of Mouth (IBOM) is an online crowd-sourced poetry project honoring Iowa birds. The project will run from September 2016, through August 2017. Support is provided by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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.
Every month, the spotlight bird will change.
September: American Goldfinch
October: Ring-necked Pheasant
November: American Crow
December: Eastern Screech-Owl
January: Bald Eagle
February: Northern Cardinal
March: Red-winged Blackbird
April: Trumpeter Swan
May: American Robin
June: Eastern Bluebird
July: Eastern Meadowlark
August: Great Blue Heron
Contributors can connect, chat and share photos, art and sound files on IBOM’s Facebook page and Instagram and Twitter feeds. Text in the poems is open source and available to visual artists, musicians, other writers, organizations, etc. for use in creative projects.
The goal of IBOM is to increase our sense of collective connection to the environment. Birds occupy a unique space in our collective consciousness—they live in all our communities, grabbing our eyes and ears. By sharing our words, we can celebrate ways in which our stories and communities divide and converge, like a flock in flight.
Thirty-seven percent of North American bird species are of high conservation concern and at risk of extinction without significant conservation action, according to the State of North America’s Birds report released in June 2016 by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. IBOM hopes that honoring wild birds will unite us as conservationists.
To borrow a line from Walt Whitman, crowdsourced poems “contain multitudes.” In a crowdsourced poem, anyone can contribute their words. The technique offers a great opportunity to expand definitions of community and engagement. U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera hosted an epic crowdsourced poem, “La Familia,” on the Library of Congress’ website.
The IBOM Team
Tyler Harms of Iowa State University and Executive Director of Iowa Young Birders will act as IBOM’s ornithological advisor. IBOM's logo is based on original drawings by 2015 Iowa Arts Council fellow Kathranne Knight. Vaughan Ashlie Fielder, founder of The Field Office, designed and developed the IBOM website.
IBOM curator Jennifer L. Knox is the author of four books of poems and her work has appeared prestigious publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, and American Poetry Review. Birds have always been a central theme in her poetry. She lives in Ames, teaches at Iowa State University, and is the proprietor of Saltlickers, an artisanal spice company.