In partnership with City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs and City of Davis Poet Laureate Julia B. Levine, Cool Davis invites you to two events in honor of national poetry month with Ellery Akers, author of Swerve: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance. Swerve is a short and powerful collection of poems that inspires hope and resolve in saving our planet from catastrophic global warming. Akers has won multiple national awards for her poetry, including an IPPY Award and the Poetry International Prize. Swerve is the winner of Bookauthority’s award for Best Environmentalism Books of All Time.

REGISTER for the Brief Reading and Discussion

REGISTER for the Poetry Writing Workshop

Julia B. Levine, our community poet laureate, shares that Ellery “writes such accessible, moving poems, you don’t have to know anything about poetry to love this book.” Julia encourages the community to sign up and get involved: “I’m passionate about both poetry and saving our planet. If poetry matters, Swerve is the book to read!”

City of Davis Arts & Culture Program Manager Rachel Hartsough adds, “The Arts help us to imagine and communicate the world as we see it in our dreams. Poetry inspires us to envision and work toward a healthier, and more vital environment, and we are thrilled to be working with Julia Levine to bring these wonderful programs to the Davis community.”

Celebrate April as national poetry month! Join us!

Please read about the two events below, register, and pick up a copy of Swerve at the Avid Reader in Davis, your favorite bookstore, or directly from the publisher, Blue Light Press; then read it any time this month or before the events. You could read 1 poem per day (of the 32 environmentally focused poems) or the whole collection in an hour. What’s your process?

Registrants for both events will receive a Zoom link following registration and will be signed up to receive future Cool Davis newsletters. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Cool Davis to help cover the costs of planning, promoting, and hosting the event, as well as to continue other important work creating a more sustainable and resilient community. The recommended tax-deductible donations are optional; leave blank if you choose not to donate at this time.

Questions? Email

Attend Julia’s in-person Reading and Book Launch Party for Ordinary Psalms April 7 at 7pm at the rooftop Natsoulas Gallery. Julia will be reading with Frank X Gaspar, award-winning poet and novelist.

First event: “Swerve” Reading and Discussion with Ellery Akers

A brief reading by Ellery Akers, author of Swerve: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance, with a following discussion, will be held Wednesday evening, May 18, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm online. Donations are gratefully accepted with a suggestion of $5 to $25 sliding scale. City of Davis Poet Laureate Julia B. Levine will host and introduce Ellery. We’d love to see you there and hear your thoughts. You don’t need to understand poetry, or even like it, to be part of this event.

REGISTER for the Brief Reading and Discussion

Second event: The Poet as Nature Writer: Poetry Writing Workshop with Ellery Akers and Julia B. Levine

Ellery Akers relaxes in nature. Photo courtesy Ellery Akers.

For those who want to try their hand at writing poetry, award-winning poet Ellery Akers will be teaching a poetry writing workshop titled “The Poet as Nature Writer,” Sunday, May 22 from 4pm to 6pm online. City of Davis Poet Laureate Julia B. Levine will host the event and be present for breakout sessions. Beginners and advanced poets alike are welcome!

Donations are gratefully accepted to participate in the workshop with a suggested range of $30 to $200 sliding scale. Up to 50 participants will be accepted to this fun and inspiring class; a wait list will be established if needed. For those choosing the higher donation amount, please consider your donation as a way to support another participant.

Ellery shares, “In this fun, supportive workshop, poets will explore their relationship to nature. We’ll be writing persona poems about nature by imagining that we have become a plant or an animal and are speaking in their voices; writing list poems about a place; and writing memory poems, including the sounds, smells and sights of a favorite wilderness area. We’ll read poems by Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, and Louise Gluck.”

REGISTER for the Poetry Writing Workshop

Ellery Akers, award winning poet and author of “Swerve.” Photo courtesy Ellery Akers.

More about poet Ellery Akers

Ellery Akers is an award-winning writer and artist living on the coast of Northern California. Akers has won thirteen national writing awards, including the John Masefield and Paumanok Awards, the Poetry International Prize, and Sierra magazine’s Nature Writing Award. Her poetry has been featured on American Life in Poetry and on National Public Radio and has appeared in such journals as PoetryThe American Poetry Review, and the New York Times Magazine. Her nature essays have been published in numerous anthologies, including Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals (Ballantine). Her play Letters to Anna won a Dominican University One Act Play Festival Award.

More about City of  Davis Poet Laureate Julia B. Levine

Julia B. Levine, Poet Laureate of the CIty of Davis. Photo courtesy Juila B. Levine.

Julia B. Levine is the author of Ordinary Psalms (Louisiana State University Press, 2021), and Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight (Louisiana State University Press, 2014), and winner of the 2015 Northern California Book Award in Poetry, as well as three other award-winning collections. She is the recipient of over 30 national awards in poetry; her most recent include first prizes in the 2020 Bellevue Literary Review poetry contest, 2019 Public Poetry Awards, and 2018 Tiferet Poetry Prize. She earned a PhD in clinical psychology from University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in poetry from Pacific University. Julia was chosen as City of Davis Poet Laureate in September of 2021.

Ordinary Psalms by Julia B. Levine

“I was listening to KDVS when I was in between college and graduate school, and I was sweeping the porch listening to a recording of Sylvia Plath read her poetry on the radio. There’s actually a poem in my latest book called ‘Psalm for Sylvia Plath on the Radio’. It was the first time I’d ever heard Sylvia Plath, and the moon was coming up, and I just had this out of body experience. I just thought, oh my god, this is what poetry is? I want to do that.”  Quote from the Cal Aggie article about Julia.

Discover more of Bookauthority’s Best Environmentalism Books

Selection from Swerve by Ellery Akers: “At Any Moment, There Could Be a Swerve in a Different Direction”

 There was a moment

when shooting egrets for feathers became wrong.

There was a moment

when the Wilderness Act

changed the lives of billions of blades of grass.


I remember the moment when a river that used to catch fire

turned from flammable to swimmable.


A swerve smells astringent, like the wind off the sea;

It tastes red, the way Red Hot cinnamon mints

burn in your mouth;

it’s heavy, the way the weight of letters is heavy,

arriving in sacks at the Senate;

it sounds like the click of needles

as hundreds of thousands of women knit pink hats;

it looks like a coyote, crossing the freeway to go home.

Ellery Akers

from Swerve, Blue Light Press, 2020