‘Why do we hate the crow?’ – recording from ABC Radio National

‘Why do we hate the crow?’ – recording from ABC Radio National

Photo donated by At a Glance Pty Ltd (Lee Curtis and Garrie Douglas)

As promised here is the audio of my poem ‘Why do we hate the crow?’ which was recorded for the ABC Radio National ‘Birdlands’ project.

I love the way they have done this one, even better than ‘skin deep’, especially the sound of the crows in the background.

Producer Gretchen Miller said

Why do we hate the crow by Gabrielle Bryden just had to be read in a good strong Aussie accent – Drayton Morley did the readings for us here!  Produced by Gretchen Miller with sound engineering by Russell Stapleton.

Click on the link to listen to the audio:


Here is the text of the poem:

Why do we hate the crow?

We hate the crow
every bit black bird
beady ugly eyes

stupid shuffling of wings
hop out of the way of cars
that’s arrogance

eating carrion
we don’t like birds who eat dead things
or stuff out of bins
how disgusting

hate that loud, raucous call
grating our ears
like finger nails
on a chalkboard,
they take the short cut
across the river Styx
and with their message from Hades
slip into a subliminal
sniper vantage point

bloody smart-ass birds
too smart for their own good
you can’t kill them, you know
you’ll get in trouble with the law

if only it had a splash of red
somewhere on the feathers
like the stunning
red-tailed black cockatoo

yeah but, they don’t eat dead things

so it is about dead things.

39 thoughts on “‘Why do we hate the crow?’ – recording from ABC Radio National

  1. Note: again for the record, I do love crows (though it is funny I don’t have a photo of any – probably because they are so common and you don’t think to photograph birds that are all around you – plus they are so smart they tend to fly off when you want to get their photo).

    1. I read it in there Gabrielle (that you love crows). Perfectly subtle – I guess it’s clear in the ‘if only it had a splash of red’ stanza where the author doesn’t really feel the same collective hate for them. Great reading and production too.


      1. Thanks Andrew – I think it is unfair that people judge a bird by it’s feathers (but then again, should we be judging by intelligence or personality – haha – but that is what we do all the time with birds, other people, everything – that is why life is essentially unfair and to believe otherwise is an irrational belief 😉 ).

    1. bwahahaha – I’m not too keen on maggots and bacteria Stafford – and the dead stuff we eat is nicely refrigerated and then cooked, but I know where you are coming from (‘up to our arses in cadavers’ – haha, that sounds like a limerick in the making 😉

  2. OMG I LOVED THIS! He read your words precisely and the crows as background enhanced it, made it an experience for the ears. This was a damn lovely treat Gabe. 🙂 Now, about those crows, there is actually a bylaw in St. John’s Newf that we have to cover our garbage with nets to keep the crows out. They make such a damn mess if you leave it uncovered at the curb. Personally, I think they are cats with wings; crafty independent survivors.

    1. Haha – cats with wings, just about sums it up – they are very intelligent, that’s for sure Val – they even use tools in their everyday lives (and it wasn’t that long ago that biologists thought only humans and some other primates like gorillas used tools – they were so wrong) and have a complex system of communication, even dialects from different regions. I wish I could speak crow 🙂 – we might find out that they think we are pretty stupid.

  3. WOW. That was an amazing recording. Loved the real crows in the background. I am so proud of you right now, Gabrielle. I am ignoring my housemaid’s knee and doing a proper knees-up in your honour. YAYAYAY.

    We have a lot of crows in our street at the moment. They are very glossy and look so strong. I had a real life Gothic moment the other day. It was cloudy and dark and a thunderstorm was brewing. The crows were flying against the sky and cawing. It was awesome. They are magnificent birds!

    1. Haha – thanks Selma – I wonder what those crows were saying – maybe ‘Hey Bill, we better get the heck out of here, this storm looks like it means business” – again, I wish I could speak crow 😉

  4. Great poem & fabulous reading. I just played it, & it sent my dogs berserk – clutching at the floor boards to help lever them outside with extra pace to chase away those birds. Angelo thought there were about 50 crows this morning calling out from their lofty perch in the giant pine tree next door. They use to fly in to our chook house – grab an egg; fly outside with it & put it in the grass – reposition it in their beak & fly away. We have now remodelled the chook house. Thanks for the audio – it is a high light hearing your poetry bought to life & interpreted by others in its delivery.

    1. Thanks Jane – haha – they are so smart – our coop has a upstairs brooding section, which is inaccessible to crows (unless they want to go in and up the ramp, and then into that section) 🙂

  5. just amazing. the poem comes alive. hearing these two recordings makes an impression, it shook out a new view for me, just experience-wise by listening and also regarding the transformation of reading to hearing. it becomes an whole other thing, for both the act of writing, i think “hearing/writing” must be part of the process, and then the dimension in the working of it as a recording. which is extraordinary btw. exciting and such fun to listen to, gabrielle!

    1. Thanks tipota – yes, I think the recording brings it to another level – makes it easier to understand as well. It makes me want to go an record sounds, like bird sounds and traffic – but I get a bit confused with all that audio stuff 😉 and editing.

        1. It is good 47whitebuffalo. I just googled images with the text – ‘say no to nuclear’ and a whole heap came up and that was one of them – I figured they wouldn’t mind me using it 🙂

  6. Excellent poem, i enjoyed reading it. I always have mixed feelings about crows, they’re so clever but so troublesome, which makes them pretty much like us humans!

    Crafty green Poet


    Death only depends
    Of the point of view
    Crows are living wild
    Dogs are hunting them

    Haunted houses of the wind
    Their melody is a curse
    Or a benediction
    Following the translating ear

    Crows are feathers
    Signs on plains and roads
    Turning in circles
    Around a point of no return

  8. exquisite poem Gabrielle. and yeah, i like crows too. the poem tho is way beautiful because it really is way so accurate in every detail about the way we are as human beings – a very worthwhile subject for any art form. of course it also has to do with the acts of being crow. while you observe the acts of the crow you expose in every detail some rather unsavory bits of our human being nature and our own short comings. we are so rarely satisfied with the way things are… ha. we are also a very creepy creature in so many ways, yeah. of course… i like human beings too… we just use crows to examine our self a lot i think… exquisite. aloha

    1. Wow – fantastic and thoughtful comment Rick (5 out of 5 – haha). You are spot on about us using the crow to examine our own nature. Even though I love the crow I have been known to say some of the things in the poem when they annoy me – and that is human too. Thanks Rick 🙂

      1. ha. yeah, i listened to the poem after i commented. i wanted my own take on the poem directly between your words and my skull.

        i liked the reading.

        i valued the crow background immensely.

        altho i have lived at times where there are crows (there is a crow population in hawaii even – the hawaiian crow) it’s never been where they were right under foot. it’s been where they had plenty of space and were actually leery of human beings or interacting with us without their lookout. …often a smart thing for wildlife… so it’s often been at a distance that i know them and hear them.

        i can see how the almost human sounds they make might weigh on a person especially a person on their own. hearing that call that almost goes into the sound of a baby alone crying… yikes. edgy. or the moan of aloneness that penetrates to the spirit… or may be our soul… i might get used to it. but i know initially i’d wonder what is happening and where is that child and what is going on… to be tormented into producing that sound…

        still… there is a beauty too and i doubt if crow make that sound just to annoy human beings or to get on their nerves. …that would be a human trait i think.

        the excellence of the poem is all you Gabrielle. beautiful.

        you made a comment that to me ~ haiku material.

        black screams
        again i wish i could speak

        mwhahahahahaha and glee. aloha.

        1. I love the haiku – haha! You are right about the crow caw – has an element of the very young baby cry which is designed to be ‘not ignored’ – our whole body responds viscerally to the sound and we must do something about it (soothe, feed, burb etc.,) and we go a little crazy if we can’t stop the crying (and some mothers do indeed go crazy when the crying is endless). I used to live in a place where the crows were really close to the house in the mornings and the sound drove me nuts; but now they have a lot of space and are rarely near the house – my tolerance for their crowing has gone sky high (they need a large auditorium for full appreciation 😉 ). Thanks Rick.

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