In 1976 through the efforts of Jim Beall, the National Park Service gave the Word Works permission to use the Joaquin Miller Cabin located in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park. Initially, Word Works poets gathered in the cabin for poetry workshops. By candle and fireplace light, the participants shared their work and provided criticism to each other.

The reading series grew out of these early activities. Karren Alenier founded the Miller Cabin Poetry Series and ran programs there until 1983. Those years are documented in Whose Woods These Are, an anthology of poetry, anecdotes, and photos.

In 2011, The Word Works partnered with the National Park Service at the Rock Creek Nature Center where most of the eight June-July programs of the newly renamed Joaquin Miller Poetry Series will be held in the Center's Planetarium on eight Thursday evenings starting at 7 pm. Co-directors are Kathi Morrison-Taylor, Rosemary Winslow, and Deborah Ager. Audience participation averages 20 to 60 people per night. A committee selects readers from a large pool of applicants. Both well-established authors and first time readers share the podium. Funding for the series comes from the audience who are asked by mail prior to the opening night for contributions to pay the poets. Purchase our book anthology, Cabin Fever: Poets at Miller's Cabin to learn more about the programs.


Thursday evenings at 7:00 at the Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road, NW, Washington, DC near the intersection of Military & Glover roads. Sign up for opening reading at 7 pm. Wheelchair accessible. Nature Center is located at the far north side of the Horse Stables. For more information, call Kathi Morrison-Taylor at 703-820-8113.

  • June 9 ---Kelly Cherry with Jacklyn Potter Young Poet Julia Holemans
  • June 16 ---Pia Taavila & Ian Williams
  • June 23 ---Adam Tavel & Melissa Tuckey
  • June 30 ---Yvette Neisser Moreno & Iain Pollock
  • July 7 ---Hailey Leithauser & Suzanne Rhodenbaugh
  • July 14 --- Benjamin S. Grossberg & Michele Wolf
  • July 21 --- Joe Bueter & Lynn Wagner
  • July 28 --- Michael Gushue & Jennifer Militello

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The Rock Creek Nature Center, a facility of the National Park Service, is located in Northwest Washington, DC, about a mile away from the Joaquin Miller Cabin. The Nature Center at 5200 Glover Road is best accessed from Military Road or its extension Missouri Avenue. Please keep in mind that Glover Road is only on one side of Military Road.

From Connecticut Ave, go East on Military Road.

Look for the road to be divided as you head into the parkway. You will also see a brown Park Service sign indicating the Nature Center.

Turn right on Glover Road.

**At the fork, veer left.

Next, turn left in toward the horse stable.

Take the next legal left into the parking lot and go all the way to end where the Nature Center sits.

When you leave the parking lot after the program, proceed in the same counter-clockwise direction following the curved road into the lower parking lot.

Then make two rights to get back on Glover.

At the traffic light, you will be back at Military Road.

From 16th Street, follow the signs VERY CAREFULLY to access Military Road West toward Connecticut Ave.

On Military, pass the exit to Ross/Beach Drive; the next left turn will be Glover.

Follow directions from double asterisk as stated above.

Notice that Glover is only on one side of Military.

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The Word Works is negotiating a new venue and plan for the Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series which will take place once a week (mid-week) during June and July. Two poets are usually featured, reading their original poetry. Kathi Morrison-Taylor, Rosemary Winslow and Deborah Ager are the co-directors for 2011.

IF SELECTED, you will read your work at the cabin and receive a small honorarium. Copies of a poster/flyer (self-mailer) will be available for you to send to friends and colleagues. If you have books published, you may sell them at the reception. If you live out of town and need a place to stay, an effort will be made to provide lodging by the director and Word Works staff.

TO APPLY to the series, send the following:

  • 5 poems, typed, one poem per page. No one poem longer than two pages.
  • Name, address, telephone numbers, email on first page of the submission. Name on every page.
  • Brief biographical note, including publications, readings, literary studies, prizes.
  • Stamped, self-addressed envelope for reply (for return of poems, add sufficient postage as needed).

    NOTE: All manuscripts must be typed. Any form or style of poetry will be considered; selection is made on the basis of the poems submitted. The biographical note is for information only. The director is assisted by a panel of writers in choosing poets.

    SEND TO:

    Rosemary Winslow , Co-Director
    Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series
    Department of English
    The Catholic University of America
    Washington, DC 20064

    DEADLINE: Postmarked on or before March 31 of each year.

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The Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series (In 2011 the name changed to the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series) is the oldest summer reading series in Washington. In 1976, through the efforts of poet and physicist Jim Beall, the National Park Service gave The Word Works permission to use the Joaquin Miller Cabin in Washington's Rock Creek Park. Poets gathered for informal poetry workshops by candlelight in the rustic setting. In 1978 Karren Alenier established a reading series inside the cabin which was built in 1883. When audiences became too large for the small cabin, the programs were moved outside to the grounds behind the cabin. The programs directed by Karren Alenier have been documented in WHOSE WOODS THESE ARE, an anthology of poetry, anecdotes, and photos.

Jacklyn Potter ran the Series from 1984 to 2005. After Jacklyn's sudden death in April 2006, Julie Enszer became the director of the 2006 series which ran for only four programs. In 2007, Kathi Morrison-Taylor became co-director with Rosemary Winslow. In 2011, each program takes place Thursdays in June and July, at 7 p.m at the Rock Creek Nature Center Planetarium. A reception follows each reading in the lobby of the Rock Creek Nature Center.

Well-established authors and first-time readers; local, out-of-town, and poets from around the globe share the podium. A panel of co-director select the poets from a large pool of applicants. Since 1988, winners of the Young Poets Competition (renamed in 2006 as the Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition)-- high school students -- are honored at one of the readings with a well-known poet joining them. One of these programs, with Lucille Clifton as guest with the young writers, was filmed and broadcast by PBS television. Jacklyn Potter began the practice of inviting foreign writers, reading in their native language as well as in English.

The work for the summer series begins in January each year, when a call for manuscripts announced. The Miller Cabin Poetry Series is documented through the Washington Literary Archive, at The George Washington University Gelman Library.

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In 1883, poet Joaquin Miller built the cabin as a retreat for writing. The "wilderness" where he built his retreat was a wooded area north of Washington, known then as Arlington Heights, and now as Malcolm X Park. He is quoted as saying, "I sit up here in my fine cabin, while the President himself sits down there at the end of the street with his little cabinet."

He stayed 10 years in the "woods" where he was frequently visited by the curious. Disappointed at not being appointed as Ambassador to Japan, Miller went west to settle in the Oakland Hills of California. He gave his cabin to a friend, who soon gave it to the Sierra Club. In 1912, one year before Miller's death, the National Park Service became its new owner. The Park Service disassembled, moved, and rebuilt it in its current location in Rock Creek Park. Meanwhile, Mr. Miller built a similar cabin in the Oakland hills. There he planted over 2000 evergreens and created an amphitheater where he produced his plays. He became known as the Poet of the Sierras.

Learn more about Miller in articles by Kathi Morrison-Taylor (published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly) and by David Taylor (published in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine).

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  • Donate funds.

    Each year, in the spring, a letter is sent asking for contributions to pay the poets and to assist with other costs of running the reading series. Acknowledgment is given for contributions on the Miller Cabin Poetry Series flyer (limited by deadline). Funding categories include:

    Friend, $10-$25
    Donor, $26-$99
    Patron, $100 and above.

    For more information, reply to or write to:

    Karren Alenier
    Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series
    The Word Works
    PO Box 42164
    Washington, DC 20015

  • Volunteer for the summer programs.

    To organize a successful poetry series, many tasks must be performed behind the scenes, such as: mailings, including the fund-raising letter, press releases, etc.; set up of reception food; distribution and posting of flyers in the metropolitan area, at bookstores, libraries, cafes, universities, and community centers. Even a total of two or three hours of your time would make a big difference! If you are interested, reply to or write to:

    Karren Alenier , The Word Works, PO Box 42164, Washington, DC 20015

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