Poetry and Birding April 16 with American Bird Conservancy in Rock Creek Park

Day Eight and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) invite DC residents to attend a free workshop that will bring together the experience of observing birds in nature and poetry, Sunday, April 16 from 9:30-11:30am. At the event poets Taylor Johnson, REIL, and Alberto Roblest will share new, bird-inspired poems and then attendees will be given their own opportunity to explore themes of nature and bird observation in breakout sessions facilitated by the poets.

The workshop will take place outdoors in Rock Creek Park at Picnic Area 13, near the Rock Creek Park Nature Center (https://www.nps.gov/places/000/rock-creek-park-picnic-grove-13.htm) and will include light refreshments (e.g., coffee and baked goods) courtesy of ABC for those who have signed up in advance. A covered space will be provided, as well as picnic table seating, and all activities will be conducted outdoors.

To sign up to attend, email: EVaccaro@abcbirds.org.

The event is the culmination of a collaboration between photographer and ABC Ambassador, Kaleb Friend, Robert Bettmann (Day Eight), and the poets. The event will provide participants with a safe and welcoming space in which to explore the wonders of bird life with published poets and bird guides leading them. Just as in nature drawing classes, often what each person sees is different, even when they are all looking at the same thing. Participants in the workshop will be invited to submit their poetry for selection and publication in a special section of an upcoming print edition of Day Eight’s literary magazine, Bourgeon.

ACCESSIBILITY: There is a large, paved parking area adjacent to the event site. There is a small curb and hill, no ramp to access the seating area. No birding experience is needed to participate in this event – we meet you at whatever level of birding you are at and binoculars will be available to lend out. There is no amplified sound. An ASL interpreter will be present for the initial poetry reading.

Kaleb Friend (project director) is a conservation photographer and a board-certified pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. What started as a passion became a way of life and Kaleb left full time work as a physician in spring 2022. He is a volunteer ambassador for ABC. Since 2021 he has published an annual calendar of bird photography. His work can be seen at www.kalebfriendphotography.com and on Instagram @kalebfriendphotography.

Taylor Johnson, from Washington, D.C., is the author of Inheritance (Alice James Books, 2020), winner of the 2021 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His work appears in Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, The Baffler, Scalawag, and elsewhere. Johnson is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a recipient of the 2017 Larry Neal Writers’ Award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the 2021 Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers from Lambda Literary. Taylor was the inaugural 2022 Poet-in-Residence at the Guggenheim Museum, and is presently Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland.

Alberto Roblest is a writer, teacher, and co-founder of Washington, D.C.’s dual-language news outlet, Hola Cultura. He is the author of the fiction books, Against the Wall, Collar de Orejas, and American Snapshot, and the poetry books: De Entre los Signos el Diminutivo, Chicaneando, and, forthcoming from Day Eight, Inqulinos Mudos. He has taught at George Washington University, Catholic University of America, Emerson College, and other universities in the United States, as well as at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

REIL / Shaquetta Nelson is an arts educator, performing poet, and the author of the book, Ashes to Justice (published in 2022 by Day Eight.) R.E.I.L. started her poetry career at open mics in the D.C. area and at 16 competed in the Brave New Voices slam in New York City. For the last four years she has been an arts educator in Day Eight’s programs, including as a staff member for Writing Camps, a performer/educator, and co-director of Day Eight’s writing program for teenage girls. 

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, the American Bird Conservancy takes on the greatest problems facing birds today.

Thanks to ABC and Kaleb Friend for working with us on this project, and we hope to see you Sunday April 16th. This event is made possible through the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.