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Nature poetry and essays can be powerful ways for people to connect with the natural world. A new anthology published in January, titled Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher’s Field Guide to the Poetics of Migration and edited by Jamie K. Reaser and J. Drew Lanham, features lyrical reflections on our relationship with birds. The book’s release coincides with the 30th anniversary of International (World) Migratory Bird Day, co-founded in 1993 by Reaser. Proceeds from the book will go to the American Bird Conservancy’s Conservation and Justice Fellowship Program.
“dawn songs is more than a book,” Reaser said. “It’s an invocation – a call of birds and birdwatchers across diverse landscapes and undefined identities. It’s a celebration of what unites us at the edges of nature and human nature. is, in part, “Hope” by Emily Dickenson [being] the thing with feathers.
The anthology contains works by 60 writers, some of whom are well established in their fields, and others who “have had fewer opportunities to express their stories and feelings,” Reaser said. “One of our intentions in bringing dawn songs together was to amplify those voices, to invite lesser-known authors to a perch from which they could be better heard.
It is divided into four sections: ‘Know’, ‘Marvel’, ‘Lament’ and ‘Celebrate’. Each explores the intersection between nature and human nature through a different lens.
The book echoes the “magic of a dawn choir”
The cover of Dawn Songs alongside photos of Jamie K. Reaser and J. Drew Lanham.
In “To Know”, the poets write about their personal relationships with birds, with some poems centering on the feeling of greeting newly returned migrants and others simply expressing the joy of watching swallows fly or herons hunt. “To Wonder,” meanwhile, contains works expressing questions birds inspire in writers, and “To Lament” leaves room to mourn the decline of species and the death of individual birds. The anthology ends on an uplifting note with “To Celebrate,” which contains joyful odes to the gifts birds give us.
“This book brings together a diversity of high human voices – echoing the magic of a dawn choir,” said Michael J. Parr, president of ABC. “It’s a crafty celebration in service of the birds, of nature, of human nature.”
dawn songs will directly help empower the next generation of bird conservation advocates through Reaser and Lanham’s generous decision to donate proceeds to ABC’s recently launched scholarship program. Through scientific research, community engagement, and storytelling, ABC Fellows explore the interrelationship of bird conservation and environmental justice. Nominations are actively sought from a diversity of individuals, including those historically voiceless in dialogues about environmental justice and conservation.
“We are honored that Drew Lanham and Jamie Reaser have chosen to support our Conservation and Justice Fellowship program with proceeds from dawn songssaid Naamal De Silva, chief diversity officer at ABC. “Launched in 2022, our program is new, so their belief in its potential matters a lot. Choosing them will draw more attention to the program and to current scholars.
dawn songs is available to buy now from Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. And you can read more and interact with others enjoying the poems on the book’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Ornithologist J. Drew Lanham wins 2020 EO Wilson Biodiversity Award