Hummingbird Vows, by Freesia McKee-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Hummingbird Vows, by Freesia McKee

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Freesia McKee
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Poetry, chapbook, 40 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

A hummingbird vow is a pledge to tune into the smallest observations. It’s a vow to honor the way the quotidian shapes our personal histories and shared commitments. Freesia McKee’s Hummingbird Vows is a collection of observational poetry that investigates a paradox, that staying present with the world’s “aching grievance” is a path that also opens us to joy. Hummingbird Vows is about choosing to live in this paradox.

“You wondered what else would happen/if you started paying attention,” McKee writes in this collection of queer, feminist ecopoetry. “We never stopped being/in relationship, even/when we wanted to be alone,” McKee writes of interspecies encounters, peripatetic poetics, and how living as a neighbor can serve as a metaphor for all sorts of interactions.

The poems in Hummingbird Vows include haibun, epithalamium, experimental forms, prose poetry, and free verse. Poems like “Fetal Funeral” and “Before Hate Speech” tie the political to the personal, a signature characteristic of McKee’s work. Poems such as “During the Pandemic, I Lose My Ability to Spell” and “A Map of the Neighborhood” focus on the alienation and comfort collective experiences provoke. These poems remind us that we are gazing through human eyes: “We started seeing hummingbirds everywhere/once we started to look.”

"It is a mystery that I can be/so full and warm and worried,” McKee writes. The poems in Hummingbird Vows sound out the contours of “small cuts that heal” and promise that “risking rejection” is part of the journey towards unconditional love.

Freesia McKee writes about place, gender, genre, and history. She practices poetry, creative prose, book reviews, and literary criticism. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Freesia now works as an Assistant Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Headmistress Press published her first poetry chapbook, How Distant the City. Learn more at FreesiaMcKee.com.