Wednesday 23 November 2022

25 BIRDS by Anna K. Wood, a New Book of Bird Photographs

Cover image


May I introduce a new book, 25 Birds, by Anna K. Wood. The blurb on the back reads as follows:

"In this delightful collection, housebound photographer Anna Wood beautifully captures the diversity of birdlife all around us. Created entirely from photos taken in one North Glasgow garden over the course of one year, this book explores the joy Anna finds in nature as well as the challenges of being a photographer with severe ME. It will appeal to anyone with a love of birds, as well as those who would just like a little more nature in their lives."

I 'met' Anna over the internet a few months ago and realised that we had a few things in common. We both have physical health issues (albeit different ones) that force us to approach life in a particular way. We share a love of birds and a desire to photograph them. Anna has allowed me to include her fantastic feather photo below. She has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her new book.


Photo image: © Anna Wood, used with permission

1. Anna, what gave you the idea and have you been able to raise some funds via the project?

I've raised over £500 so far and there is more to come from recent sales. I've sold far more than I even thought I would, so delighted to be able to support such a good cause (Action for M.E.) and bring wildlife to people's lives.  I have been taking photos of birds for a couple of years and posting them on social media, and getting lovely comments from family and friends. They encouraged me to do something more with them, so I thought it would be fun to try to put a book together and raise money for charity - I have to admit I was a bit naive about how much effort it would take, but once started I really wanted it to be ready before Christmas.

2. Tell us about the habitat in question ...

So I live in north Glasgow, in a quiet residential street. I have a very small back garden which is below ground level, so there aren't often birds there, but the front has a small area of grass which slopes down to the road next to the drive way. There is a small plum tree in the middle where I hang feeders and recently I had some bushes and flower bed put in at the bottom. That's where I see most of the birds. There's also a lovely cherry tree next door which overhangs the drive, and birds like to sit in there. Although it's quite suburban there is a park about 10min walk away and a golf course 3 min away in the other direction, so lots of habitat for birds nearby.

3. Your favourite bird in or out of the book, and why.

Oh gosh that's so hard! My favourite bird is a stonechat. I saw one for the first time last summer while on holiday. My favourite photo is probably the sparrow with the feather - what I really love about taking photos in my garden is seeing birds that we think we know in a new way. Photographing makes me really pay attention to the detail, how they behave and all the things we easily miss.

4. What about the photography aspect, e.g. are you self-taught? 

I am self-taught. I have learned a lot from reading about how other people take photos of birds, watching YouTube videos, from talking to people online and from trial and error. I have a lot of photos where the bird is blurred or where it has already flown off! 

The book is available from Amazon (livelink here).


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My sincere thanks to Anna for answering my questions about her new book. I was drawn to the concept as soon as I heard about it, and could hardly wait until publication day. The book is indeed ready in time for Christmas: do click the livelink above and take a look.

Wednesday 16 November 2022

'Voices For The Silent', a new anthology from Indigo Dreams Publishing



What can poetry do?  

There have been many who advocate art for art's sake, or l'art pour l'art, as the slogan was initially rendered in nineteenth century France. 

There have also been many, and indeed there are an ever-increasing number, of artists (in the broadest sense) who see their work as a focus for, or extension of, their activism. 

I feel fortunate to have had poems included in a variety of charity anthologies over the years, raising funds and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support, Welney WWT and the Born Free Foundation, to name but three. 

I am delighted to add another to the list in the form of Voices for the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2022), the new companion volume to For the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2019), edited by Ronnie Goodyer, Poet-in-Residence at the League Against Cruel Sports. These companion (or stand-alone) volumes have been produced to aid the work of this charity, and not surprisingly some of the selected poems concern animal cruelty. Others focus on habitats and the wonders and complexities of the natural world. 

The new book includes poems by well-known names such as Margaret Atwood, Gillian Clarke, Pablo Neruda, Philip Larkin, John Clare, Mary Oliver, William Cowper, William Blake and Thomas Hardy, alongside a host of contributors who are part of the contemporary poetry scene.

Voices for the Silent costs £15 in Great Britain. Prices for other parts of the world are listed on the Indigo Dreams Publishing website. The book includes six wonderful pages of illustrations by Sam Cannon. The superb cover photographs are by Andy Parkinson.  

Subjects in the anthology range from a stag to a sparrowhawk, from a Chequered Skipper butterfly to an elephant. My poem, 'Basking Shark Blues', was inspired by the brooding Hebridean waters off the coast of Skye where I spent an evening watching one of these gentle giants of the ocean.


Evening, Loch Scavaig, Isle of Skye