Poet, Teacher, Conservationist and Maker
Finding quiet in the wild and poetry everywhere.
Teaching a Wild Thing
In the Meat Years
Elements and Briars
Kindra McDonald is as vulnerable in her
experience of agony as she is in hope. If you have ever known a need that will not be answered,
as in an unworn onesie you can’t bring yourself to throw away, this collection may salve your
In Teaching a Wild Thing, Kindra McDonald blurs the line between the human and natural worlds,
creating a oneness that reveals we are also wild things—fraught, at the mercy of disaster, in need of
calm and comfort. These poems lay bare the darkness of childlessness and loss but always search for
hope and, ultimately, discover a sort of maternal fulfillment in caring for the small everyday blooms
and creatures McDonald calls us to treasure. “Did you know/ you can feel a soft crab’s heartbeat/
just by holding them carefully?” There is much to learn here. Follow the poet’s “instructions for
joy,” and this collection will linger.
Author of Everygirl
Praise for Teaching a Wild Thing
Oh, how much I see myself in the tender ache reflections of the natural world blooming in these poems. Kindra McDonald’s Teaching a Wild Thing is a familiar landscape of personal grief and loss, while being found again somehow in a whale’s lament, heron wing, ear tuft of bobcat, lilac, chrysalis, crab shell, honeybees, sun-warmed figs, “the space between ladybugs and petals,” or the “underside of each leaf.” This collection is an almanac of heart, both supplication and prayer— ear to the earth, cheek to the grass, tears staining a mossy carpet “feeling/ for an answer somewhere/ between bare branch/ and bud bloom…to find a place/ that smells like home.” With the essence of Mary Oliver and imaginative conservationist Beatrix Potter, McDonald is a mother of other kingdoms, her poems are the songs of trees, her words “a flower that has bloomed on your tongue alone.”
Does it sometimes feel like we’re walking in the museum of our future demise? A world burning or flooding, skies raging with storms; our days, rooms lined with scrimshaw, carved bones of whales; the teeth, tusks, and plumage of creatures who like us are trying to make their way. Against this, what does it even mean to consider “increase?” How could a leaf be made more tender? Kindra McDonald is not the kind of poet who offers easy platitudes or pandering hope. But these poems give us everything, flawed or glistening—cathedral light streaming through blocks of Jell-O, all kinds of wild things who live and die or are sometimes brought back from the brink. Read these poems like you’d pick figs in summer: for the reverse blossom, and the gardens inside each one.
Luisa A. Igloria, author of Maps for Migrants and Ghosts; Poet Laureate of Virginia, Emerita
Author of Mining for Stardust, Incandescent, and Wingspan
Cynthia Marie Hoffman, author of Call Me When You Want to Talk about the Tombstones, Paper Doll Fetus, and Sightseer
McDonald has given us a calendar as elemental as the very first one, 28 cuts nicked into bone. Poems move from winter to winter, tracked in flowers and fruit and the insects and birds of a garden “somewhere between jungle and Eden.” The natural world tells us what we need to know. The body persists through trials of lust and childrearing, decline and death, the tale of lumps and teeth and blood and bone.
In the Meat Years
Author of Leopard Lady: A life in verse
McDonald turns periphery into centerpiece, and we wonder, with both longing and pleasure, how we could have missed so much detail, and the beauty in it, why we do not ourselves revolve around the thrush, the map, the wedding favor...How grateful we must be for this poet whose reverence for reality turns our senses into avenues of grace.
Sophia Starnes, Author of The Consequence of Moonlight
Elements and Briars
Reflecting a close examination of the stories in 1,001 Arabian Nights, this chapbook is filled with powerful imagery – relationships, womanhood, motherhood, home and hearth – as well as social commentary, irony, sarcasm and well-crafted language.
Editor in Chief
Kindra received her BA from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She's an adjunct professor of Writing at University of Maryland Global Campus and teaches poetry at The Muse Writers Center. She served as Regional Vice President for the Poetry Society of Virginia from 2019 to 2022. She spent two years serving with the Virginia Service and Conservation Corps in Virginia State Parks and is a Master Naturalist.
I'm a poet, educator, freelance writer, and the Executive Director of a community non-profit. I'm a conservationist, a maker of cakes and collage and I can usually be found in the woods. A mountain gal in an ocean town chasing the "blood jet" of poetry.
I love goats, coffee, birdsong and exclamation points!
More than anything, I believe in the power of words. I believe poetry saves lives. It has saved me over and over again. I believe in following your dreams, especially if they scare you.
If you like orange cats, photos of trees and Jeopardy! chat, check out my social media, let's connect!