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It is a collection of poems based around the character Crow, which borrows extensively from many world mythologies, notably Christian mythology. The first Crow poems were written in response to a request by the American artist, Leonard Baskin, who had at the time produced several pen and ink drawings of crows.
It is quoted briefly in the liner notes of Paul Simon's song My Little Town, and the collection was also the key inspiration for the 2009 album The Unkindness of Crows by the American heavy metal band Eagle Twin.