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Orion & BirdLife Present: Conversation w/ Jonathan Franzen & J. Drew Lanham

August 30, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT


Orion Magazine and BirdLife International present a conversation between best-selling novelist and birder Jonathan Franzen and ornithologist, author, and MacArthur Fellow J. Drew Lanham, to celebrate the launch of Orion‘s latest anthology, Spark Birds.

Co-edited and introduced by Jonathan Franzen, Spark Birds is a collection of the best stories, essays, and poems about birds to appear in forty years of Orion. It features writing by luminaries such as J. Drew Lanham, Elizabeth Kolbert, Li-Young Lee, Mary Oliver, Emily Raboteau, Sandra Steingraber, and many more.

Franzen and Lanham will discuss their love of birds and how writing and art about our avian friends can inspire people to think more deeply about environmental threats while encouraging us to look more mindfully at the skies above.

The event will be moderated by Orion editor-at-large and Spark Birds co-editor Christopher Cox.

Spark Birds is currently available for pre-order and goes on sale on 8/15. You can order your copy from Orion HERE.

About the Speakers


J. Drew Lanham is a Professor of Cultural & Conservation Ornithology at Clemson University and the Poet Laureate of Edgefield County, South Carolina. His books, Sparrow Envy–A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts and The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, explore the subjects of wildlife and wildlands conservation through the prisms of race, place, and nature.

Drew is also a 2022 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a curator with several museums, and an evolving librettist with a poem about whimbrels that’s in the process of becoming an operetta with composer Gabriella Lena Frank. His forthcoming books include a collection of poetry entitled Joy is the Justice We Give Ourselves, a children’s book called The Bird I Became, and an eco-memoir entitled Range Maps – Birds, Blackness and Loving Nature Between the Two.



Jonathan Franzen is the author of six novels and five works of nonfiction, most recently The End of the End of the Earth. Franzen is the recipient of a National Book Award for fiction, the EuroNatur Prize for his work in conservation, and the Utah Award in the Environmental Humanities. He has written extensively, for National Geographic and other publications, about birds and the threats to them.





Christopher Cox is an editor-at-large at Orion and the author of the book The Deadline Effect.


August 30, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


BirdLife International