Poetry Takes Wing 2023

An Inter-Generational Poetry Contest


Nature Poetry Contest Reviewers & Judges

Top Scoring Poems Move to Final Judging

Taking inspiration from World Migratory Bird Day, Poetry Takes Wing is a community-based exploration of the connections we have with nature. Submissions of poems by writers of all ages and backgrounds, referencing a bird or birds in some way and grounded in an ethos of conservation, are now with our finalist judges . 

With grateful thanks to our team of first-tier reviewers, the top ten ranked poems in each category are now in the hands (and hearts) of our final judges. Learn a little about our team of reviewers/judges below.

Co-sponsored with our friends at Writers & Books

First-Tier Reviewers

Our first tier reviewers represent our region as well as national emerging and established voices in poetry. We are honored they contributed their time and talent to ensuring the highest standards for Poetry Takes Wing. 

Youth Category

Krissy Kludt

Krissy Kludt

Poet Krissy Kludt writes about identity, the land, mystery, divine love, and the passage of time. Creator of Writing the Wild, she guides retreats and workshops on writing, creativity, and nature connection. Her first volume of poetry is forthcoming. She works and plays in the East Bay outside of San Francisco, on the ancestral lands of the Ohlone and Miwok peoples, with her husband and two sons.

Joanne Brokaw

Joanne Brokaw

Author, performer, and teaching artist Joanne Brokaw has helped countless people discover their inner artist by encouraging them to take creative risks, celebrate mistakes, and focus on the process, not the product. With a contagious passion for creativity and a gift for inspiring others, Joanne encourages people of all ages to discover the joy of self-expression.

Teen Category

Annette Ramos

Annette Ramos

Originally, from New York City by way of Los Angeles, Annette Ramos is now a Rochester-based Latinx leader, community advocate and Cultural curator with collaboration at the heart of her leadership process. Annette has over 35 years of work as a Teaching Artist, Master Storyteller and Community Activist across the USA, and in multiple school districts, conferences and festivals.

She now serves as cofounder, producer, director & playwright for dozens of Latinx productions in the role of Executive Director for the Rochester Latino Theatre Company founded in 2011. She continues to lead through her civic engagement as the Co-chair of the City of Rochester’s AC3 Arts Commission and at the County level in voter registration for the Board of Elections

David Taylor

David Taylor

David Taylor is an Associate Professor and Faculty Director of the Environmental Humanities Major in the Sustainability Studies Program in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. His writing crosses disciplinary boundaries and genres—poetry, creative nonfiction, scholarship, and science writing; however, at the core of his work always is a concern for environmental sustainability and community. David is the author and editor of eight books.

Adult - Emerging Category

Elizabeth Domenech

Elizabeth (Liz) Domenech

Elizabeth (Liz) Domenech is a writer, naturalist, and advocate for conservation and wildness. Her writing can be found published in The Sunlight Press, Eunoia Review, Montana Naturalist, Amethyst Review, and Edible Bozeman. Originally from the Texas Hill Country, she lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Maureen Whalen

Maureen Whalen

Maureen Whalen has been a docent at the Seneca Park Zoo since 2006 and can usually be found talking with guests at the Rocky Coasts. She is also the zoo historian; in April 2020, she published her book, A History of Seneca Park Zoo. After retiring as a librarian for Rochester Public Library, Maureen has pursued her interest in local history as a volunteer at the Greece Historical Society and curated a number of their exhibits. In 2019 she was awarded the Greece Regional Chamber of Commerce History Award.

Adult - Published Category

Anne Marie Wells

Anne Marie Wells

Anne Marie Wells (She | They) is the author of Survived By: A Memoir in Verse + Other Poems (Curious Corvid Publishing, 2023), the inaugural winner of the Wanderlust Travel Book Award for her memoir, Happy Iceland, through Wild Dog Press (pending publication), and the 2023 winner of the Cinnamon Press Chapbook Contest for her collection, Mother, (v). She won the 2023 Maryland Writers Association Poetry Contest, the 2023 Jackson Hole Poetry Box Contest, 2023 DC Public Library Haiku Contest, was long-listed for the International Erbacce Prize in Poetry, and was short-listed for the inaugural Emma Howell Rising Poet Award. She was the winner of the 2021 Crow House Press Poetry Competition, earned the 2021 Peter K. Hixson Memorial award in poetry presented by Writer’s Relief, and was a 2021 Wyoming Woman of Influence nominee in the arts category for amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ and disabled communities through her writing.

She is the lead faculty for the DC Chapter of the Community Literature Initiative poetry publishing program through the Sims Library of Poetry and strategic partnership fellow for The Poetry Lab.

Thomas A. Thomas

Thomas A. Thomas

Thomas A. Thomas lives along the Salish Sea outside Olympia, WA. His writing and photography are deeply concerned with the watery and forested worlds he walks and paddles through. Individual works appear most recently in Gyroscope Review, Blue Heron Review, Cirque Journal, Vox Populi Sphere, The Banyan Review, FemAsiaMagazine

Richard Moss

Richard Moss

Richard Moss worked at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for 32 years, rising from copy editor to news director, and spent a couple of additional years at the Rochester Business Journal. He is devoting part of his retirement toward a quixotic attempt to extract the perfect haiku from what remain of his brain cells.

Finalist Judges

Panelists are experienced literary arts practitioners, including poets, authors, educators, librarians, arts administrators, and other relevant professionals. We are honored they contributed their time and talent to ensuring the highest standards for Poetry Takes Wing. 

Dr. Naamal De Silva

Dr. Naamal De Silva is the Chief Diversity Officer at the American Bird Conservancy, and the founder of Mayla, which uses storytelling, partnerships, and events to celebrate and support the diversity of people who protect nature.

Earlier in her career, she spent nearly a decade at Conservation International, helping staff and partners to identify places and species in most urgent need of conservation. Naamal was born in Sri Lanka, and raised in Washington, DC, where she still resides.

Lilace Mellin Guignard

Lilace Mellin Guignard’s poetry has appeared in Ecotone, and Poetry magazine, and is included in Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (U of Georgia P, 2018). She is the author of the chapbook Young at the Time of Letting Go (Evening Street Press, 2016) and the adventure memoir, When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America (Texas A&M University Press, 2019).

She also wrote the Field Guide to the Norton Book of Nature Writing (2002). She is Associate Editor & Publisher of Mountain Home magazine and calls rural Pennsylvania home.

Alison Meyers

Alison Meyers is Executive Director of  Writers & Books, a literary arts center in Rochester, NY. A veteran nonprofit leader, she previously led Cave Canem Foundation (Brooklyn, NY) as Executive Director, 2006-2016; served at Hill-Stead Museum (Farmington, CT) as Poetry Director and Director of Marketing & Communications, 2000-2006; and was General Manager of the Oberlin (OH) Consumers Co-op, a $2.9 million bookstore serving Oberlin College & Conservatory and surrounding communities (1995-1999). 

For many years she owned and managed an independent bookstore in Connecticut. She consults, sits on panels, and presents widely; serves as a LitNYS mentor for New York State-based literary arts nonprofits; and is Treasurer of the Board of Kweli Journal. Alison is a Pushcart Prize‐nominated poet, fiction writer, and essayist whose work may be found in journals and anthologies and at www.alisonmeyers.com.

J. Drew Lanham – Adult – Published Poet

Dr. J. Drew Lanham

A 2022 MacArthur Genius Fellow, Dr. J. Drew Lanham is a conservation ornithologist and endowed faculty at Clemson University, where his work focuses on the intersections among race, place, and nature. He is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature and Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts.

His creative work and opinion appears in Orion, Vanity Fair, High Country News, Bitter Southerner, Terrain, Places Journal, Literary Hub, Newsweek, Slate, NPR, Story Corps, On Being, Audubon, Sierra Magazine, and The New York Times, among others. Dr. Lanham is the winner of the Dan W. Lufkin Conservation Award (National Audubon Society), Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award (North American Association for Environmental Education) and the E.O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Science in Biodiversity Conservation (Center for Biological Diversity).  


Youth: Ages 12 and under

Teen: Ages 13 – 18

Emerging Adult Writer: Unpublished poets, ages 19 and above (self-published writers may select this category)

Published Adult Writer: Poets published in print and/or online, ages 19 and above


Up to three Honorable Mentions in each category receive: 


One Winner in each category receives all Honorable Mention benefits stipulated, plus:


May 13, 2023 – Submissions open

August 15, 2023 – Submission period closes

More Information

Unpublished, original poems written in English or Spanish, in any style, including prose poems and song lyrics.

Simultaneous submission to other competitions should be noted: immediate notice upon winning such a competition is required.

At the top of the first page, please include the category in which you are submitting (Youth, Teen, Emerging Adult or Published Adult).

Title of the poem and the category should appear in the upper-right corner of each page.

Format poems in 12-point font size, Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman font, as .doc or .docs or .pdf  

Poems with more than 500 words will not be reviewed.

Unpublished, original poems written in English or Spanish, in any style, including prose poems and song lyrics.

Simultaneous submission to other competitions should be noted: immediate notice upon winning such a competition is required.

1. One poem per poet.
2. Poem must be submitter’s original work, unpublished in print or online.
3. Maximum length: 500 words.
4. Poem must reference a bird or birds in some way.
5. Format poems in 12-point font size, Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman font, as .doc, .docx., or .pdf
6. Paginate when poems exceed one page.
7. No illustrations.
8. Online submissions only via this webpage’s upload instructions
9. Title of the poem and the category should appear in the upper-right corner of each page.
10. Poet’s name and contact information may not appear on the submitted document.
11. Poems may not be edited or re-submitted.
12. Winners will be notified in September 2023.

Current or former colleagues, employees, family members and close friends of the judges; and current or former employees and members of the board of Seneca Park Zoo Society or Writers & Books are ineligible.

If any of the selected Winners or Honorable Mentions fall under the above exclusions, they will be disqualified and a replacement chosen from among the finalists. As the poetry community is small and the contest is judged without knowledge of the submitter’s identity, mere acquaintance with the judges or participation in a workshop taught by them are not disqualifying criteria.

Thank you to Writers & Books for helping make this event possible!

Stay Updated

Keep in touch with your friends at Seneca Park Zoo on this event and more! There’s always something happening at the Zoo.