H. Emerson Blake

Workshop Leader

H. Emerson Blake

H. Emerson Blake is the former editor-in-chief of Orion and Milkweed Editions. Articles and books he has edited have been nominated for or won the Pushcart Prize, the PEN Literary Award, the John Burroughs Medal, and the National Magazine Award and have been selected for inclusion in Best American Essays and The New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He is also an experienced birdwatcher who has led birding tours in North, Central, and South America.

The Gathering Room


The Gathering Room

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Jul 11 2021 - Aug 15 2021


Six Sundays, July 11- August 15, 6-8:30pm EDT. PLEASE REMEMBER
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm



H. Emerson Blake: What Birds Can Teach Us: A Six-Part Online Master Class in Nature Writing

Check out H. Emerson Blake’s article, Keeping Faith: Nature’s Antidote to Disillusionment.

People have written about birds for as long as there’s been written language. And in this six-part online writing course taught by the long-time editor of Orion, you will learn from those writers, as well as from the birds themselves.

Of course there are many ways to look at birds. Konrad Lorenz found their biology and behavior fascinating. For poets Dickinson, Neruda, Whitman, and Oliver, birds were symbols of freedom, mystery, and strength. Terry Tempest Williams has used birds as a way to explore family and loss. Drew Lanham writes about them as a way of talking about social justice and equality.

In this craft workshop, you will learn to be a stronger, more confident writer, and you will learn about what makes a piece of writing enjoyable to read. You will get there by reflecting on what others have written, and by actually observing the birds in your neighborhood. Chip Blake and your classmates will give feedback and encouragement so that you may very well come away from the class with a finished piece of writing–and a new appreciation for our fine feathered friends. 

As part of the class we will read examples of writing about birds, and Terry Tempest Williams, David James Duncan, and Drew Lanham will appear via Zoom to talk about their writing process.