In September of 2013, thousands of migratory songbirds perished after being lured like moths to a flame to a hundred-foot-high flare at the Canaport Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Saint John, New Brunswick. Photographer Thaddeus Holownia and poet Harry Thurston sought to memorialize this fateful event, but with Canaport LNG on trial, the fallen birds were collected and held as evidence at the New Brunswick Museum. After two long years, Holownia and Thurston finally gained access.
Icarus, Falling of Birds pairs Holownia’s photography with the poetry of Thurston. In these pages, the burned and damaged bodies of the birds are perpetually falling, while Thurston recounts their great migration: how “they wing like embroidery / through the drapery of fog that clings / to this coast” and of “a false star / burning bright,” that claims them.
About the authors
Harry Thurston is the author of several collections of poetry and twelve nonfiction books, including Tidal Life: A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy, winner of three non-fiction prizes in the Atlantic region; The Nature of Shorebirds: Nomads of the Wetlands; and A Place between the Tides: A Naturalist's Reflections on the Salt Marsh, which received the 2005 Sigrid Olson Nature Writing Award in the United States and was shortlisted for the 2005 BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. He has also written for such magazines as Audubon, Canadian Geographic, and National Geographic. Thurston lives in Nova Scotia.
Thaddeus Holownia is a teacher, visual artist, letterpress printer and publisher. Currently he is a professor and head of the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University. Holownia’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including most recently, Thaddeus Holownia: the Terra Nova Suite, a twenty-five-year survey of his Newfoundland and Labrador work presented by the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s. His photographs have been included in numerous group exhibitions, including The Landscape: Eight Canadian Photographers by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Klienburg, and Monet’s Legacy: Series. Order and Obsession at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. He has been the recipient of many awards and honours including a Fulbright Fellowship in 2001 and the Paul Paré Medal in 1998 and 2006 from Mount Allison University in recognition of excellence in teaching, creative activity, research and community service. In 2000 Holownia was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick’s Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts and the Order of New Brunswick.
“Thurston and Holownia have taken an event terrible in its heedless destruction and turned it into a moving and beautiful meditation on the power of mindful ecology.”