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. 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.
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