Cloud Birds

Sheila Packa

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book description

Book cover for cloud birds: painting by Cecilia Ramón.

Cloud Birds is a flight through the western shoreline of Lake Superior north to the Iron Range of Minnesota. The poems are about bears, immigrants, bird migration, and women moving through violence. The cover image is a painting by visual artist Cecilia Ramón titled "Refuge I/Refugio I (Homage to Ana Mendieta).

"The meditations and assembled memories in Cloud Birds dissolve layer after layer of the defenses we erect against eternal human fears and longings. Images from the North, from the Iron Range--bears and birches, roads that had 'no end, only yearning,' set the poems in place and motion. Often the poems do not end in a period: instead they leave us following their trail, "a thoroughfare of light falling through the pines." --Connie Wanek, author of On Speaking Terms (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)

"Cloud Birds is about bears, wings, migrations--and apples, anger, rivers, roots, coffee, fields, longing and always, always love. The collection is wonderfully liminal. It is richly shaded and shadowed, a translucent layering of meaning and memory, of dream and thistle. It moves between narrative and music, between aura and the most grounded reality. Many of the poems linger as sound as much as image. Some are ephemeral. Some are achingly immediate. The poems invite the reader to become part of the process. Trust the free fall of Sheila Packa's voice and imagination. This is the mystery and power of her work." --Pamela Mittlefehldt, PhD, co-editor of Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow! Press, 2009)

Midwest Book Review writes: "The changing of seasons, the changing of life seems to move so much faster in the north." Cloud Birds is a collection of poetry from Sheila Packa, a Finnish American woman who calls Minnesota home, viewing the changing of nature and life as she sees it and always moving. Cloud Birds is an excellent compilation of poetry driven by both humanity and the beauty and uncertainty of nature. Cloud Birds: "we live on both sides of the border/in two countries/in and outside each other/bone and blood/in disguise without intention or force/without blandishments/blown by wind/silent like shadow crossing and crossing/over the boundaries without end/borne by moon or sun/burnished by wing."

Available in bookstores.
ISBN 978-0-9843777-2-5
Distributor: Ingram

For more information about the book, see Sheila's blog

media projects

was it i

composer: Wendy Durrwachter

was it i

composer & media artist: Kathy McTavish

"Migrations," by Olli Kortekangas of Helsinki, Finland

premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra

recording: Sibelius Kullervo And Finlandia - Kortekangas Migrations Set

This two-disc set features Music Director Osmo Vänskä leading the Minnesota Orchestra and Finland’s YL Male Voice Choir, along with vocal soloists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala, in a performance of Jean Sibelius’ searing five-part symphonic poem Kullervo. The Orchestra’s interpretation of this Finnish masterpiece at Carnegie Hall in 2010 led The New Yorker’s Alex Ross to write “for the duration of the evening...the Minnesota Orchestra sounded, to my ears, like the greatest orchestra in the world.”

Recorded live at Orchestra Hall during three February 2016 concerts, the recording also features Sibelius’ beloved Finlandia and contemporary Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas’ dramatic new work, Migrations. Commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, Migrations commemorates the Finnish migration to North America and features poignant text by Minnesota poet Sheila Packa."

short project video

For more information about the project, see Sheila's blog entry


Thank you to the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Loft McKnight Fellowships for past financial support.