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‘A Dark Murmuration of Words’ contends with a modern era built on racial and gender inequality, poverty and slavery, environmental exploitation and the climate crisis, finding them all connected by the dark shadow of patriarchy, pursuits of power, and the suppression of history.
“Finding meaning becomes challenging with the deafening clamour of social media in this age of fake news,” she says, “but it’s important to try discerning the patterns, learning to pay attention to things closer to home as well as to overwhelming global issues.”
Referencing Emily Dickinson’s assertion that “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves,” Barker draws connections between the familial, the local, and the global: a mother sings to her unborn child, asking for its forgiveness on “Strange Weather”, “Where Have The Sparrows Gone?” looks outside an apartment window and imagines a post-apocalyptic birdless London, and a monument to a Confederate general comes alive for a “how-I-got-away-with-it” confession on “Machine.”
Throughout A Dark Murmuration of Words, all of our choices, our unspoken prejudices, our carelessness, connect us to the whole, but becoming aware and honest on a local, personal scale, can begin to effect change, allow for healing, and tease out beauty from chaos. “Like the starlings in a murmuration, where the movement of each individual bird is related to just seven of its closest neighbours,” Emily Barker says, “none of us are aware of the fluctuating shapes being created by the flock.”
1. Return Me
3. The Woman Who Planted Trees
4. Where Have the Sparrows Gone?
5. Strange Weather
7. When Stars Cannot Be Found
9. Any More Goodbyes