I've recently finished reading this, and I thought it was marvellous. One thing I found remarkable about these essays was how effortlessly Perillo incorporates discussion of poetry into her memoir of illness and nature. All her themes coexist organically with one another and nothing ever feels like it's been parachuted into the scene. For Perillo, poetry is a natural part of life, as present in the world as seagulls and illness, and often much more pleasant.
From the very first line of I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature it is clear that Lucia Perillo is a poet. Her prose is lyrical, sharp and rich with unusual and striking imagery and biting lines, whether she’s writing about seagulls, Emily Dickinson, or her desperate trials of alternative treatments for multiple sclerosis.
Perillo, the author of four award-winning books of poetry, was a backcountry ranger before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her 30s. Since then, the disease has made her “ever more physically compromised,” which requires her to redefine her concept of wilderness so she can still experience wilderness despite being unable to walk.Thus I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing opens with Perillo’s observations of that most reviled and overlooked bird: the seagull. As Perillo learns to see seagulls, so does the reader. Wilderness can be found in unexpected places, even odd-smelling, trash-ridden, muddy docks. While seagulls aren’t as good for stories as eagles, they have their own appeal.
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