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On Migration

Dangerous Journeys and the Living World

List Price: $16.95

September 9, 2014 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 272 Pages | ISBN 9781619024335
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"This sweeping and unconventional book about migration calls for compassion: her poems and essays are a lyrical tribute to the insects and whims, trials and beauties that catalyze movement." —The Economist

“Life began with migration.” In a magnificent tapestry of life on the move, Ruth Padel weaves poems and prose, science and religion, wild nature and human history, to conjure a world created and sustained by migration.

“We’re all from somewhere else,” she begins. “Migration builds civilization but also causes displacement.” From the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt, the Lost Colony on Roanoke and the famous photograph “Migrant Mother,” she turns to John James Audubon’s journey from Haiti and France, heirlooms carried through Ellis Island, Kennedy’s “society of immigrants” and Casa del Migrante on the Mexican border.

But she reaches the human story through the millennia-old journeys of cells in our bodies, trees in the Ice Age, Monarch butterflies travelling from Alaska to Mexico. As warblers battle hurricanes over the Caribbean and wildebeest brave a river filled with the largest crocodiles in Africa, she shows that the purpose of migration for both humans and animals is survival.

RUTH PADEL is a British poet and writer devoted to conservation, music and Greece. She has published a novel, eight poetry collections including a lyric biography of her great great grandfather Charles Darwin, and eight works of non-fiction including a firsthand account of wild tiger conservation. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Council Member for the Zoological Society of London, and writes and presents BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Workshop. She lives in London.

Praise

“This sweeping and unconventional book about migration calls for compassion: her poems and essays are a lyrical tribute to the insects and whims, trials and beauties that catalyze movement.” —The Economist

“A poetic exploration of every aspect of migration, from the evolution of life to the migrations of birds and the patterns of human emigration… Poet and conservationist Padel, the great, great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, connects the relationship of the yearly migrations of birds and butterflies to seasonal human labor and such esoteric subjects as the transmigration of souls… A lyrically effective mix of prose and poetry.” —Kirkus

“In this collection, British conservationist and poet Padel, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, muses on the transient natures of creatures high and low… Migrations depicted in the poems include cells replicating courtesy of DNA helicase; fruit bats flying to Congo and pollinating the jungles; and refugees from Cuba floating across the ocean on a raft of chairs… The writing is beautiful.” — Publishers Weekly

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