Birds, Art & Poetry

By: Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum on September 30th, 2015

Woodson Wanderings readers are treated this week to a guest post by poet Dan Holland, who has made multiple visits to Birds in Art each fall for as long as he can remember. How does Birds in Art inspire you? Museum programs blending literature and the visual arts are offered Thursday, October 1, through Saturday, October 3, when 2014 Wisconsin Poet Laureate and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor Max Garland returns to the Woodson Art Museum. The award-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer leads an Art 101 presentation, a poetry reading & open-mic opportunity, and a Writing & Art Workshop; click on each program for details and registration information.


Poet Dan Holland and artist Gene Reineking during the 2015 Birds in Art preview.

I became interested in both birds and poetry because of my 90-year-old grandmother, Dinah G. Olin. One day she discovered a robin with a broken leg. A registered nurse, she set the leg, splinted it, then fed and tended the bird until the leg healed. The bird was lame, but returned faithfully each year even after “Gran” passed away.

Much later, in 2001, I composed this poem to celebrate both Gran and Lamey:


. . . and poetry.

I was just a boy…

Watching my Grandmother

Set a robin’s broken leg.

Now I am a man . . .

Who still remembers

“Lamey’s” return,

Long after “Gran’s” death.

Whenever I see a robin

Returning in spring,

I find Gran, and Lamey,


. . . and poetry.

I am still amazed that a single act of kindness accorded a wild thing can give a boy something to cherish for the rest of his life. Little wonder why I am always deeply moved by my annual return to Birds in Art.



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