Birdland Activities

Our home in West Sonoma (also known as “Birdland”) is full of color and the sound of birds.


Things are changing. Watch this page for new adventures coming to Birdland 2018 




April 2016 Workshop Writing the Lyric: Enliven Your Poetry & Prose with Ben Jackson. It was held on Saturday, April  10:30-5:00. For more information about this workshop go to the bottom this page.

FALL 2016

Laguna/Birdland Retreat  Volvere /Return to Birdland: Celebrating Catalonia   New date to come.

Read about and sign up at Room for 11 participants.

Birdland Journal: Fall Submissions

Deadline  October 15 

max 5 pages or 1250 words

Theme: Talk to Me We are looking for writing in which dialogue plays an important part. It might be a piece that is mostly dialogue or has a few rich moments of conversation. It could be a narrator’s inner dialogue, or the narrator may be internally conversing with other characters. As always, our themes are open to your imagination and interpretation. We hope to hear from many of you, and have the pleasure of reading new work or rediscovering pieces we have heard in workshops and retreats before. Send one or two possibilities to Sharon at To look at past journals go to


Second Birdland Journal Reading!  

 Alley Cat Books! Sun. Nov. 6th 1-4

participants: max 5 pages  or 1250 words

3036 24th Street near Harrison in the Mission

“The one place where birds and cats get along”

   Watch for electronic invite 




Birdland Studio Description: Watch and listen as woodpeckers, blue jays, finches, and black raven wings fly over the garden, the sound water spilling over the edge of our large fountain. Observe vistas through the trees and up into the open sky, the push of spring bulbs, ripening fruit, the scent of herbs, pines and redwoods, the roundness and texture of leaves and trees. Enjoy the property as it moves through the seasons.  When nobody else is around, David and I enjoy dolce far niente (an Italian term for sweet doing nothing).

Besides its use as a private studio for our photography and writing and occasional overnight guests, the interior space is a great location for our writing workshops and retreats and drawing sessions. We enjoy sharing this special place.

Gallery of 2016 events

January and February and April

Participants at Ben Jackson’s April Writing Craft workshop. The writing was full of music.

ben's workshop 2016

Birdland Journal reading at Alley Cat Books in the Mission on January 24th. 2:00-5:00. Twelve wonderful readers.


2016 Laguna/Birdland Retreat: Travel into Writing inspired by Hawaii was on Saturday, February 6th. Hawaiian toast after a good day of writing.



Last workshop in April 2016 Writing the Lyric Workshop Description

 When we hear the word lyric, some of us might think of music or poetry. Yet a lyric can be much more than a melodic phrase or a sweet-sounding sonnet. It can be an expression of “a spontaneous, direct feeling,” inviting us back into our bodies, back into our emotions. Sometimes we writers get so caught up in telling a story that we forget to tap into our emotions, enliven our senses, and listen to the sound of our words. We poets, too, get sidetracked; we forget the core feelings we were trying to express and the patterns of music that make our poems engaging.

In this workshop we will look at ways to achieve lyricism in both poetry and prose, completing writing exercises that will help us create deeper feeling and musicality in our work. We will also try out fun approaches to structuring lyrical passages, using authors like Walt Whitman, Michael Ondaatje, and Lucia Berlin as our guides. Throughout the day you will be invited to share your work with others, but you’re also welcome to maintain a private relationship with your own writing. This class will expose you to skills and strategies that will breathe life into all of your writing regardless of genre.

About Ben

Ben Jackson’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Southern Review, Hudson Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, The Journal, and elsewhere. His awards include the 2015 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Prize as well as residencies from Vermont Studio Center, Jentel Artist Residency Program, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program and a recipient of its Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend, he is the director of the Writing Salon, a San Francisco Bay Area creative writing school for adults.

Workshop Coordinates for this workshop

$175 person. Please bring your own lunch. Morning snacks and beverages will be provided. Please arrive close to 10:00. We will begin promptly at 10:30 and write until 1:00. We will break for lunch for an hour and spend the rest of the afternoon listening to poetry and writing until 5:00. We’ll end the day with a toast and a few appetizers to start your evening.

Register: To hold your place, please send $87.50 (non-refundable deposit).

The balance will be due the day of the workshop. Maximum twelve participants.

You can send checks to:

Sharon Smith

544 Vermont Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

or by PayPal to

Note: If the workshop is cancelled for any reason, this deposit will be returned.



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