Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

Hope Valley in Aspenglow

aspen-treeAutumn leafI know so many writer-friends who hail from the East Coast, and who profoundly miss the intense autumn colors of oak, maple, and sumac. Being a Californian , born and raised on the Pacific Coast, I had never seen this display until two weeks ago, when I headed to Hope Valley on the Carson Pass in the Sierras just south of Lake Tahoe. If you are longing for a real hit of color, consider making an October visit there. Best time to catch the aspens is mid-month, around Columbus Day. We caught them a week later, still in their glory.

Sonoma County’s Recently Published Authors
Congratulations to this month’s recently published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print. Thanks to Ed Coletti who keeps this page of the Literary Update current with your notices of work you’ve had accepted for publication in literary journals and magazines.

Our Dead Who Light the Way
November first is the traditional Feast of All Saints. Tomorrow is the Feast of All Souls. In Europe’s Celtic world, Samhain (Hallowe’en) marked the beginning of the new year. And in Mexico and other parts of Central and Latin America, the sacred day is called El Dia de los Muertos, fast becoming a part of the autumnal traditions around Sonoma County. Our dead are near during these days, and we can invite them to be with us to console, to guide, to gently turn us in the direction of the light as we begin our journey into the darkest season of the year.

Dylan Thomas’s Centennial
Had he lived past his 39 short years, Dylan Thomas would be 100 years old. His birthday, October 27, brought back to me and my fellow writer-travelers in Wales, vivid memories of our time in his homeland and especially three days in the village of Laugharne. There was a fine article in the Chronicle’s Travel section on Laugharne and the “Birthday Walk.” If you missed it, here’s the link: www.sfgate.com/travel/article/Finding-poetry-in-Dylan-Thomas-strangest-5843799.php

And if this inspires any of you literary folk to consider a writing retreat and literary tour of Wales, check out my website: http://wales2013.wordpress.com/. The first trip was in the summer of 2013. The 2014 trip didn’t have enough travelers to launch, but if enough travelers are interested, we could aim for summer of 2015 or 2016. Let me know if you’d like to be included!

Carolyn Kizer and Galway Kinnell
Carolyn KizerWe have lost two great poets this past month: Carolyn Kizer and Galway Kinnell. Both were poets of exquisite craft and brimming imagination. Both were also influential teachers. Back in the 1980’s, when the Napa Writers’ Conference was first launched by Dave Evans, Kizer and Kinnell were both among the teaching staff, and that’s where I had the opportunity to meet them.

Galway KinnellKinnell once said, “poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.” There are many ways to bear witness, both the deeply personal and the historic.

To honor these two writers, Kizer and Kinnell, I’ve included poems of witness which you’ll find at the end of this post, right after this months contribution to the ongoing “Thoughts on the Drought.”

Mexico’s 43 Desaparecidos
At this year’s Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading, in its new location under the great oak behind the Petaluma Historical Museum, one of the team of organizers, Israel Escudero, lit 43 candles in memory of students at the Ayotzinapa Normal teacher-training school who have been missing since September 26th. Israel then told us that six students from the school were murdered by municipal police and other gunmen, and forty-three others were “disappeared” in the small city of Iguala, in the Pacific-coast state of Guerrero.

A march was held in Mexico City yesterday, coinciding with the Day of the Dead holidays, and a “mega march” is scheduled for November 5th, the day that Mexico’s universities and colleges are planning a national strike.

Let’s keep them in our thoughts. For more information, here is a link to a New Yorker article from October 30: newyorker.com/news/news-desk/crisis-mexico-forty-three-missing-students-spark-revolution.

Tonight’s El Dia de los Muertos Procession with Mariachis and Big Puppets
El Dia de Los Muertos PetalumaIf you’d like a special way to remember your loved ones, consider joining the community of marchers participating in the Day of the Dead candlelight procession. The events kicks off at 6:00 PM in front of Water Street Bistro in Petaluma, right by the river at the end of Western.

Sonoma County Literary Update Turns 10 This Year
Last month, local writer Michelle Wing interviewed me and Jo-Anne Rosen about the evolution of the Literary Update. She then published a short feature on the Update with the Sonoma West Times and News. Thanks to Michelle for taking the time to highlight the various features and the collaborative nature of the website, and especially for acknowledging Jo-Anne’s steady, professional managing of all the information you submit to us.

If you didn’t see the article, here’s the link: http://www.sonomawest.com/discoveries/off-the-page/article_fdcb3aee-5559-11e4-8a7d-9fe54d6efd6f.html

Got a Literary Event or Program to Promote? Guest Contributors Welcome!
In keeping with the collaborative history and nature of the Sonoma County Literary Update, Jo-Anne and I warmly invite writers from around the county to contribute features for each month’s post. For November, we’re happy to feature Michelle Wing and the new reading series she’s involved in up in Cloverdale.

Books on Stage — New Reading Series in Cloverdale
Cloverdale is host to a lively arts scene, with a co-op art gallery, a jazz club, an active historical society, and a sweet theater venue, the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center (CPAC), offering a full season of top-notch dramatic performances. All that was missing was something for writers, especially since the closure of the town’s only bookstore a few years ago.

Thanks to an alliance with CPAC, lovers of the literary arts now have a venue as well, a new reading series called Books on Stage. It happens every other month on a Thursday night at the 99-seat CPAC theater. The concept is simple. The evening features both a poet and a prose writer. Each has thirty minutes to read from their work, followed by an audience Q&A period, with a brief intermission between readers. Afterwards, all are invited to the theater lobby for refreshments and wine, book sales and signings, and more personal conversations with the authors.  Michelle Wing, creator of the series, serves as emcee and host. The evenings are free, a gift to the community from the CPAC board.

When selecting readers for Books on Stage, Michelle says there are two primary considerations she keeps in mind. Literary merit, of course. But equally important for this series, she seeks authors and poets who can powerfully bring their words to life from the page.

The series opened in July with Sonoma County Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings and novelist Gil Mansergh. September’s reading featured poet Michelle Wing and novelist Amanda McTigue. The November 6 reading will showcase two writers visiting from Hilo, Hawai’i — poet Ruth Thompson, author of Woman with Crows, and novelist Don Mitchell, author of A Red Woman Was Crying.

Upcoming on January 15 is a reading featuring Healdsburg poet Russ Messing, author of A Convergence of Unanticipated Consequences, and memoirist and short story writer Laura McHale Holland, author of Reversible Skirt and The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song. Future dates are March 12 and May 15, with readers still to be decided.

Shows start at 7 p.m. The theater is located at 209 North Cloverdale Boulevard, Cloverdale, CA 95425. www.cloverdaleperformingarts.com/ For more information about Books on Stage and upcoming authors, see http://michellewing.com/books-on-stage/

About Our Contributor
Michelle Wing is the author of Body on the Wall (www.amazon.com/author/michellewing/) and co-editor of Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence, a fundraiser for YWCA Somona County (www.ywcasc.org).

Thoughts on the Drought
Since January, I’ve been inviting the Literary Update readers to send me their poems, stories, essays, and anecdotes on the drought. This month, I’m featuring a poem by Amy Elizabeth Robinson. Please send me your thoughts on the drought or, if you prefer, on the recent rains that have been so welcome. Photos and artwork, too!

_________________

An Ordinary Day

A poem for Flood Wall Street and the People’s Climate March

September 21-22, 2014

by Amy Elizabeth Robinson

Today
I’m staying
in my pajamas
because I can.

I’m curling
back in bed with
my computer
and checking Facebook,
not one time,
not two times,
but eighteen times
while my children are at school.

I might bake cookies.
I might go back to sleep.
I might type
“Gaza”
and “climate”
into my Google bar and
see how things I care
about connect.
You know—
stretch my mind,
and not my body.

Or
I might sit
on the front step.
Listen to the chainsaws
complain about fire-prone firs,
watch the naked shapes of cardboard
cookies for hard-scrabble birds
dance
on manzanita
in the morning wind…
and then the afternoon wind….

I might wonder when the rain’s coming,
and then begin
to dance
myself,
thinking of the vibrant
hum of humans
rising from New York,
two thousand nine hundred thirteen
miles away.

I think
I’ll imagine
walking with them
today. Because I can.
My mind is built for that—
crossing mountains,
stretching the plain,
until it hums
with possibility.

 

Amy Elizabeth Robinson’s blog,  Still Life, Turning Planet, is about writing freely, sitting quietly, and living out loud on this Earth

____

“October 1973”
by Carolyn Kizer

On September 11, 1973, backed by the U.S. CIA, a military coup in Chile ousted the democratically elected Salvador Allende, who was later found dead—possibly assassinated, though the official version is suicide. Within the month, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, a friend and supporter of Allende, who’d spent years in exile for his political stance, was also found dead.

In the month of October, 1973, Carolyn Kizer wrote the following poem for her friend Nicanor Parra Sandoval, another great Chilean poet, celebrating his 100th birthday this year. In this poem, Kizer dreams of trying to reach her friend to learn of his fate.

October 1973

Last night I dreamed I ran through the streets of New York
Looking for help for you, Nicanor.
But my few friends who are rich or influential
were temporarily absent from their penthouses or hotel suites.
They had gone to the opera, or flown for the weekend to Bermuda.
At last I found one or two of them at home,
preparing for social engagements,
absently smiling, as they tried on gown after gown
until heaps of rich, beautiful fabric were strewn
over the chairs and sofas. They posed before mirrors,
with their diamonds and trinkets and floor-length furs.
Smiling at me from the mirror, they vaguely promised help.
They became distracted—by constantly ringing phones,
by obsequious secretaries, bustling in with packages,
flowers, messages, all the paraphernalia,
all part of the uninterruptible rounds of the rich,
the nice rich, smiling soothingly, as they touched their hair
or picked up their phone extensions.
Absently patting my arm, they smiled, “It will be all right.”

Dusk fell on the city as I ran, naked, weeping, into the streets.
I ran to the home of Barbara, my friend,
Who, as a young girl, rescued four Loyalist soldiers
from a Spanish prison;
in her teenage sweater set and saddle shoes and knee socks,
she drove an old car sagging with Loyalist pamphlets
across the Pyrenees all the way to Paris without being caught.
And not long ago, she helped save a group of men
from Franco’s sentence of death.

In my dream, Barbara telephones Barcelona.
I realize this isn’t quite right,
but I just stand there paralyzed, as one does in dreams.
Then, dimly, from the other end of the line,
through the chatter of international operators,
we hear artillery fire, the faint tones of lost men,
cracked voices singing, “Los Quartros Generales” through the pulsations
of the great, twisted cable under the ocean.
Agonía, agonía, sueño, fermente & sueño.
Este es el mundo, amigo, agonía, agonía.

“No, Barbara!” I scream. “We are not back there.
That’s the old revolution. Call up the new one.”
Though I know that, every day,
your friends, Nicanor, telephone Santiago,
where the number rings and rings and rings
with never an answer. And now the rings
are turning into knells:

The church bells of Santiago
tolling the funeral of Neruda, his poems looted,
his autobiography stolen, his books desecrated
in his house on Isla Negra.
And among the smashed glass, the broken furniture,
his desk overturned, the ruined books strewn over the floor,
lie the great floral wreaths from the Swedish academy,
the wreaths from Paris, South Asia, the whole world over.
And the bells toll on…
Then I tell Barbara to hang up the phone.

She dials the number again, then turns to me, smiling,
smiling like an angel:
“He is there.” Trembling, I take the phone from her,
and hear your voice, Nicanor,
sad, humorous, infinitely disillusioned,
infinitely consoling:
“Dear Carolyn…” It is Nicanor!
And the connection is broken, because I wake up,
in this white room, in this white silence,
in this backwater of silence
on this Isla Blanca:
Nicanor, Nicanor,
are you, too, silent under the earth,
Brother, Brother?
Carolyn Kizer, “October 1973″ from Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Kizer.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, .P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA  98368-0271, http://www.coppercanyonpress.org. Source: Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)

____

“Neverland”

by Galway Kinnell

The following poem by Galway Kinnell appeared in his twelfth collection of poems, Imperfect Thirst, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. It honors the memory of Kinnell’s sister as she was dying.
Neverland

Bending over her bed, I saw the smile
I must have seen when gaping up from the crib.
Knowing death will come, sensing its onset,
may be a fair price for consciousness.
But looking at my sister, I wished
she could have died by surprise,
without ever knowing about death.
Too late. Wendy said, “I am in three parts.
Here on the left is red. That is pain.
On the right is yellow. That is exhaustion.
The rest is white. I don’t know yet what white is.”
For most people, one day everything is all right.
The next, the limbic node catches fire. The day after,
the malleus in one ear starts missing the incus.
Then the arthritic opposable thumb no longer opposes
whoever last screwed the top of the jam jar.
Then the coraco-humeral ligament frizzles apart,
the liver speckles, the kidneys dent,
two toes lose their souls. Of course,
before things get worse, a person could run for it.
I could take off right now, climb the pure forms
that surmount time and death, follow a line
down Avenue D, make a 90° turn right on 8th Street,
90° left on C, right on 7th, left on B, then cross
to Sixth Avenue, catch the A train,
to Nassau, where the A pulls up beside the Z,
get off, hop on the Z, hurtle under the river
and rise on Euclid under the stars and taste,
with my sweetheart, in perfectly circular kisses,
the actual saliva of paradise.
Then, as if Wendy suddenly understood
this flaw in me, that I could die
still wanting what is not to be had here, drink
and drink and yet have most of my thirst
intact for the water table, she opened her eyes.
“I want you to know, I’m not afraid of dying,”
she said, “I just wish it didn’t take so long.”
Seeing her appear so young and yet begin to die
all on her won, I wanted to whisk her off.
Quickly she said, “Let’s go home.” From outside
in the driveway came the gargling noise
of a starter motor, and a low steady rumbling, as if
my car had turned itself on and was warming up the engine.
She closed her eyes. She was entirely white,
as if freshly powdered with twice-bleached flour.
Color flashed only when she opened her eyes.
Snow will come down next winter, in the woods;
the fallen trees will have that flesh on their bones.
When the eye of the woods opens, a bluejay shuttles.
Outside, suddenly, all was quiet,
I realized my car had shut off its engine.
Now a spot of rosiness showed in each cheek;
blushes, perhaps, at a joy she had kept from us,
from somewhere in her life, perhaps two mouths,
her and a beloved’s, near each other, like roses
sticking out of a bottle of invisible water.
She was losing the half-given, half-learned
art of speech, and it became for her a struggle
to find words, form them, position them,
quickly say them. After much effort she said,
“Now is when the point of the story changes.”
After that, one eye at a time, the left listened,
and drifted, the right focused, gleamed
meanings at me, drifted. Stalwart
the halves of the brain, especially the right.
Now, as they ratchet the box that holds
her body into the earth, a voice calls
back across the region she passes through,
a far landscape I seem to see from above,
in prolonged, even notes that swell and diminish.
Now it sounds from beneath the farthest horizon,
and now it grows faint, and now I cannot hear it.

To hear the poet Galway Kinnell read this poem, as well as “Oatmeal” and “Saint Francis and the Sow,” click here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/.

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

 

 

Posted by: wordrunner | October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

Sonoma County’s Newly Published Authors
Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print. Thanks to Ed Coletti who keeps this page of the Literary Update current with your notices of work you’ve had accepted for publication in literary journals and magazines.

The Walk Rocks!
In September, the Petaluma Poetry Walk once again brought together writers from around the county and beyond for our annual movable feast of words. I am so grateful to the good folk who continue to make this a premiere arts event in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hats off to Geri Digiorno, Michelle Baynes, Nancy Long, Bill and Bridget Vartnaw, David Magdalene, Carl Macki, and many others, including all who read and attended.

More Celebrations
This month, we have several more occasions to celebrate the bright lights in the firmament of Sonoma County’s literary community. TAUREAN HORN PRESS, founded by Bill Vartnaw, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a reading on October 25 at Coffee Catz. SIXTEEN RIVERS PRESS celebrates its 15th anniversary with a garden party and benefit reading on October 5. LITQUAKE comes to San Rafael with an open mic reading at Rebound Books you’re all invited to participate in. And TINY LIGHTS celebrates 19 years of publication under the creative guidance of Susan Bono with a reading on October 17 at the Occidental Arts Center.

Sixteen Rivers Celebrates 15 Years on Sunday, October 5.
Kay RyanThis month, the Bay Area Poetry Publishing Collective Sixteen Rivers Press celebrates its 15th year with a garden party and reading in a beautiful garden in Marin County, featuring Kay Ryan, Sixteen Rivers advisor and former U.S. poet laureate. The event is this Sunday, October 5, 3-5 PM, with tickets beginning at $25. You can purchase tickets and get driving directions to the event at Brown Paper Ticket Site: http://sixteenriversfundraiser.brownpapertickets.com/

Hello, Goodbye: A Book Launch for Susan Bono and a Tribute to Tiny Lights!
Susan BonoAmong the brightest lights in our literary community is Susan Bono—friend, editor, teacher, and writer extraordinaire! Now, after 19 years as editor and publisher of Tiny Lights, Susan is retiring the personal essay journal she founded in 1995. On October 17, join her in paying tribute to the writers and artists who made Tiny Lights such a guiding beacon. There will be readings by select Tiny Lights authors Dan Coshnear and Clara Rosemarda, and souvenirs of Tiny Lights’ illustrious past. After toasting the end of an era (there will be champagne!), Susan will read from her latest publishing project: What Have We Here—a collection of her own essays about keeping house and finding home. The event is 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd., Occidental. For more info: 707-874-9392 or occidentalcenterforthearts.com.

The Magic of Mexican Poet Ulalume González De León—Saturday, October 11
Ulalume González De LeónThose of you who were at the Petaluma Seed Bank for the opening reading of the Petaluma Poetry Walk were treated to the debut of a translation project I’ve been working on this past year: a collaboration with two other local poets– John Johnson and Nancy Morales. Celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, González de León’s poetry is not yet known among English-speaking audiences.

Nancy, John, and I would like to extend an invitation to the literary community to hear more about the life and work of Ulalume González de León, and to share with us your thoughts about the place of translation in a writer’s life. The event is on Saturday, October 11 my partners and I will present a bilingual reading from Plagios: The Poetry of Ulalume González de León at the Petaluma Arts Center, 3-5 PM.

Ulalume González de León (1932-2009) was born in Uruguay and became a Mexican citizen in 1948. In the 1960’s and 70’s, she was an inspirational leader of a generation of women writers experimenting with language. Her poetry earned her many awards, including the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, the Flower of Laura Poetry Prize in 1979 (the Center for International Studies) and Alfonso X Prize. Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz called Ulalume González de León “the best Mexican poet since Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz,” recognizing the visionary quality of her work.

The event is part of a month-long celebration of Mexican culture sponsored by the El Día de los Muertos Committee in conjunction with Petaluma People Services Center, SRJC Petaluma Campus and the Petaluma Arts Center. For more information, visit www.petalumaartscenter.org or like the Facebook page El Día de los Muertos Petaluma.

The Arts Center is located at 230 Lakeville Street, Petaluma, CA, 94952, in the Historic Railroad Station. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served. Donations to the Art Center are appreciated.

EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS 2014 ~ MELODIAS DE LA VIDA ~ MELODIES OF LIFE
El Día de los MuertosThe annual month-long multi-cultural celebration of El Día de los Muertos, sponsored by the Petaluma Arts Center, begins this Friday, October 3, with an Opening Night Reception for the Exhibition of Traditional and non-traditional altars, collectible posters from Mission Gráfica and fine art curated by Anthony Torres of the Richmond Arts Center. Mini-tienda from The FolkArt Gallery of San Rafael. 6:00-8:30pm. For the full calendar of El Dia de los Muertos events, check out https://petalumaartscenter.org/el-dia-de-los-muertos-petaluma-2014/

LitQuake comes to the North Bay on October 11, 2014
Ever since Mark Twain hung out in San Rafael and the Beats cruised the houseboats of Sausalito, San Francisco’s literary greats have had a strong North Bay connection. From 10 Am to 11 PM, Litquake San Rafael features Bay Area writers in this first-ever series of free events along the downtown 4th St. corridor of cafes, restaurants, and shops. There are several opportunities to join in open-mic readings, including at Rebound Bookstore. For details check out www.litquake.org/event-series/litquake-san-rafael.

Enough to keep you busy? If not, then check out the calendar and workshops pages to find an event that suits your schedule and your pleasure. Special thanks to Jo-Anne Rosen who keeps these and the entire Literary Update current with your events and announcements.

Thoughts on the Drought
Since January, I’ve been inviting the Literary Update readers to send me their poems, stories, essays, and anecdotes on the drought. I didn’t receive any this month, but please consider send ing me your thoughts on the drought. Photos and artwork, too!

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor

A Poem for October
I’m teaching a workshop at the Sitting Room this fall on the subject of Silence in Poetry. One of the writers participating in the workshop spontaneously recited this poem during our opening discussion of the topic, and later sent me the text. I offer this to you, with thanks to Valerie Marshall.

The Lightest Touch

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

Posted by: wordrunner | September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

September has traditionally been the month to launch a new literary year with the twin events of the Sonoma County Book Festival and the Petaluma Poetry Walk.

This is our first year in a long time we won’t be gathering the tribes for the annual Book Festival. What a great run we had! Many thanks to all those in our literary community who worked (and played) to bring us together each September in an eclectic mix of writers, readers, publishers, book vendors, book lovers, rappers, and artists.

PetalumaPoetryWalkOur other September literary event is still going strong: the delightful moveable feast of poetry and music known as the Petaluma Poetry Walk, founded by writer, artist, and former Sonoma County Poet Laureate Geri Digiorno. This year’s Walk will begin on Sunday, September 21, 11 AM at the Seed Bank in Petaluma, then will proceed to five other venues downtown before ending up at the Aqus Café. Readers include Beverly Burch, Donna Emerson, John Johnson, Dick Bakken, Adelle Foley, Jack Foley, Michelle Baynes, Geri Digiorno, Nancy Keane, Joyce Jenkins, Jeanne Powell, Kim Shuck, Molly Fisk, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Nancy Daughterty, Nancy Long, Eileen Malone, Katherine Hastings, Ron Salisbury, Lynn Watson, Clara Bellino, Marvin Hiemstra, Kirk Lumpkin, and David Madgalene.

For a full list of readers, venues, and bios, here’s the link: www.petalumapoetrywalk.org/2014poetrywalkschedule.html.

“Get Lit” Literary Reading Series
Last month, the Literary Update post included a feature on the monthly reading series at the Aqus Café (Rivertown Poets: A-Muse-ing Mondays), and a mention of a reading series Kara Vernor and Dani Burlison are hosting in Petaluma, called “Get Lit.” For this month’s post, Kara Vernor composed this short feature to introduce the literary community to her monthly series.

“Get Lit” happens the fourth Wednesday of the month, 7:00-9:00 p.m., at the Corkscrew Wine Bar in Petaluma (100 Petaluma Blvd. N.). Three featured writers read during the first hour and open mic readers follow during the second, which is sometimes kicked off by a comedian or musician. Get Lit is a free and 21+ event that aims for lively, funny, heartbreaking and real, and the Corkscrew Wine Bar’s intimate space narrows the traditional divide between readers and the audience. September’s reading—featuring Molly Giles, Peg Alfred Pursell, and Siamak Vossoughi—will be the last one that takes place at Corkscrew until January 2015. October’s reading, entitled “Misfortunes in Love and Life: A Comedy / Storytelling Event,” will be held at the Elbo Room in San Francisco as part of SF Lit Crawl, and then Get Lit will break for the holidays in November and December. More info at facebook/GetLitReadings.

Heyday Books Celebrates 40 Years
Malcolm MargolinJust today, The San Francisco Chronicle included an article about Berkeley-based Heyday Books, celebrating its 40th Anniversary. Founded by Malcolm Margolin, Heyday published stories no one else has told–from native peoples and newly arrived immigrants, stories about the delicate Calliope hummingbirds and 14,000 foot peaks, to the explorations of California’s most original thinkers, poets, and visual artists. The anniversary is marked by Kim Bancroft’s new book The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin: The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher,

Margolin is author of several books, including The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco–Monterey Bay Area, named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the hundred most important books of the twentieth century by a western writer. He has received dozens of prestigious awards, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fred Cody Award Lifetime Achievement from the San Francisco Bay Area Book Reviewers Association, and a Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation. He helped found the Bay Nature Institute and the Alliance for California Traditional Artists.

I especially like the way Margolin characterizes the common element in Heyday’s 350 titles: “‘The kitchen voice,’ the authentic unself-conscious voice that provides a window into the real lives of people who’ve contributed to our history and culture.”

Taurean Horn Press Also Celebrates 40 Years
Bill VartnawOn Thursday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m., Taurean Horn Press will celebrate its 40th anniversary at Many Rivers Books & Tea, 130 S. Main Street, Suite 101, Sebastopol. Founder Bill Varnaw will be reading with Avotcja, whose With Every Step I Take Taurean Horn published last year. Besides publishing so many great local writers, Bill Vartnaw is a fabulous poet who served as Sonoma County Poet Laureate from 2012-2013. He currently helps coordinate the Petaluma Poetry Walk, among his many generous contributions to our Literary Community.

Sixteen Rivers Celebrates 15 Years
Still a newcomer by comparison with Taurean Horn and Heydey’s 40 years, the Bay Area Poetry Publishing Collective Sixteen Rivers Press celebrates its 15th year this October. Inspired by the same egalitarian, non-hierarchical ethos that Taurean Horn and Heyday embody, Sixteen Rivers is a non-profit, all-volunteer collective press, with the goal of bringing into print beautiful books that reflect the voices of the greater SF Bay Area.

Ryan-KayAs one of the founders of the press, I’d like to extend a personal invitation to each of you to help celebrate our anniversary with a garden party and reading in a beautiful garden in Marin County, featuring Kay Ryan, Sixteen Rivers advisor and former U.S. poet laureate.

We’ve changed our annual fundraiser to a Sunday-afternoon event, October 5, 3:00-5:00 p.m., with tickets beginning at $25. The garden party and reception will be catered with outrageously good food and drinks; there will also be a silent auction, and books by Kay and press members will be available for purchase.We hope you’ll join us for this special garden party.

You can purchase tickets and get driving directions to the event at Brown Paper Ticket Site: http://sixteenriversfundraiser.brownpapertickets.com/

Sept. 27th is the next Global Event Day!
100,000 Poets for ChangeThree years ago, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion sent out the following invitation: “Do you want to join other poets, musicians, and artists around the world in a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change?” The response was international and overwhelming, launching the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Movement.

On Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, musicians, photographers, artists, and writers will be gathering in their communities all over the world to be the change they want in the world. Locally, there are events in Healdsburg, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa. To find out more or sign up to participate, check out the website at http://100tpc.org/ or send an e-mail to walterblue@bigbridge.org. You can also follow their blog at http://www.100tpcmedia.org/100TPC2012/.

Thoughts on the Drought
Since January, I’ve been inviting the Literary Update readers to send me their poems, stories, essays, and anecdotes on the drought. This month Sebastopol writer Patrice Warrender sent in her poem, “Autumn drop of apples, crackle of bone-dry grass.” Along with that, I am including “The Last Drought,” by Lee Perron, which Larry Robinson featured two days ago in his daily poetry e-mails.

Please send me your thoughts on the drought. Photos and artwork, too!

Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print.

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor

 


 

Autumn drop of apples, crackle of bone-dry grass

Exhausted by the last hot breath
of autumn, parched hills pale
against a blue sky, unburdened
by clouds. A solitary vulture
sweeps the sky, fingered wings
stirring still air for ripe scent of
what’s been left behind. It circles
once, twice,
drops down to wheel low
over a deserted orchard, where
a scraggy doe noses the dust
of drought. The deer bolts.

The bird gathers its wings, soars
up to circle the sky.

—Patrice Warrender

 

The Last Drought

Winds that bring no clouds
clouds that carry no rain
falling rain that doesn’t reach the ground

I grieve bitterly for the home that has been lost

tonight outside: sounds of rain, of a thin
brief rain falling to the piteous earth—
voices tender as ghosts
that claim neither present nor future

yet the memory of a birth-right to rain
lingers— crystalline, flawed
reaching across synapses
that are already doomed by delusion

we are dispossessed
we wait
but we are owed nothing by the sky.

— Lee Perron, © 2014.

Posted by: wordrunner | August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

Sunday, August 3, two wonderful literary events occur back-to-back. You could attend both, traffic allowing. From noon to 4 PM is the annual Poets’ Picnic in Benicia Park. Juanita J. Martin will host this event with readings by local poets laureate. The location is the gazebo area of the park on Military/First Street in Benicia.

The second event takes place Sunday evening: Redwood Café’s First Sunday Poetry and Music Series, hosted by Geri Digiorno. You’ll have a chance to hear Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, Al Young with vocalist and pianist Sarah Baker and bass player Jan Martinelli. The performances begin at 5 PM, 8240 Old Redwood Hwy in Cotati.

Joseph MillarGeri DiGiorno and Al YoungSarah BakerDorianne Laux

 

 

 

 

Then on Monday, August 4, Rivertown Poets at Aqus Café will offer an evening with Giovanni singleton and Roy Mash. Listeners and poets are invited to attend the free event and bring a poem or two to share during the open mic. Open mic signups will begin at 6:30. The café is open for food and beverages. It is located at 189 H Street in downtown Petaluma.

I featured this series briefly in last month’s post, but since then I’ve had the pleasure of attending. What a great series and venue! The combination of featured readers and open mic create a delightful sampler of local writers and their work. In fact, the open mic in July included several young poets who were absolutely terrific. I hope some of the younger writers in the county will consider coming down to Aqus on Monday and making the Rivertown Poets part of their regular circuit.

Sandra Alfang, the series director and emcee, prepared this featurette to aquaint Literary Update readers with the series.

Rivertown Poets
aqus-cafeRivertown Poets is a monthly poetry series held on the first Monday of each month at the Aqus Café, 189 H Street in Petaluma. Each reading showcases the work of two feature poets, and is followed by an open mic. Host Sandra Anfang started the series in June of 2013. She aims to create an ambiance where seasoned poets mingle with new or little-known writers to celebrate the spoken word. Her goals are to create a space of safety and acceptance for new and experienced poets and their work, and to introduce listeners to the many dimensions of the poetic genre. Occasionally, there is musical accompaniment to the poetry. The series is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sandra at wrdpntr51@gmail.com or (650) 888-7875.

Sandra Anfang is a teacher, poet and visual artist who recently moved to Sonoma County. She is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks: Crown of Thorns, Promptly, String Theory, and Dreaming of Inertia. Sandra has been published several times online in The Shine Journal, and has two poems in the current edition of Poetalk. She has featured at Bird and Beckett, Florey’s Book (Pacifica), and the Aqus Café in Petaluma. https://www.facebook.com/RivertownPoetsAMuseingMondays

Get Lit in Petaluma!
Join hosts Dani Burlison and Kara Vernor on the 4th Wednesday of every month for the Get Lit reading series at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Petaluma. On August 27 the featured readers are Daniel Coshnear, Stefanie Freele and Lily Mazzarella. https://www.facebook.com/getlitreadings

Tribute to Don MacQueen
Don MacQueenColleague, poet, editor, publisher Brian Boldt wrote me last month about the passing of Don MacQueen.

Don was a central part of Sonoma County’s literary scene in the ’80s and ’90s, helping with the Russian River Writers’ Guild with Marianne Ware and others. It offered a lively reading series, quarterly newsletters, and occasional poetry collections, notably A Stone’s Throw, a major anthology of local poets of the day.

Don McQueen as ShakespeareDon also helped edit Rich Benbrook’s feisty quarterly “The Tomcat,” worked as an editor with Susan Bono’s “Tiny Lights,” and helped with Brian Boldt’s “Green Fuse.” His terse, witty poetry appeared in virtually every local publication in those days.

Don MacQueen, 88, died in June in Eugene, Oregon, at his daughter’s home, on his terms, exactly the way he lived his life. His family said that his last, whispered words were to a hospice worker, who assured him that everything was taken care of and all right now. Don’s reply: “Really, what about Iraq?” We certainly shall not look upon his like again.

—Brian Boldt

I spent ten days in July in the High Sierras where the combination of tinder-dry landscape and lightning storms has already launched several fires. I’ve been featuring poems, essays, and anecdotes by Sonoma County writers on the drought. This month Arlene Mandell sent in her poem, “In the Third Summer of the Drought.” Along with that, I am including Robinson Jeffers’s “Fire on the Hills.”

Please send me your thoughts on the drought. Photos and artwork, too!

 

In the Third Summer of the Drought

Deep in our woods, deer, rabbits
bobcats prowl in dry creek beds
rattlesnakes slither

while we take shorter showers
grumble over shriveled plantings
cringe at the horrific world news

then wake to another tranquil
August morning.

—Arlene Mandell

 

Fire On The Hills

The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front of the roaring wave of the brushfire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned
Down the black slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue and the hills merciless black,
The somber-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

—Robinson Jeffers

 

Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print.

Terry Ehret, co-Editor
Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

You’d think that things would be quiet in the literary community midsummer, but the calendar is surprisingly busy, and with many interesting events. Here are some highlights. You’ll find more information about each on the calendar page.

AQUS CAFÉ AND COMMUNITY
aqus-cafeThose of you who live in Petaluma are probably familiar with the Aqus Café. More than a coffee establishment, Aqus is a cultural hub, a community center, with art on display, live jazz, folk music, Irish/Celtic music, trivia games, poetry readings, movie nights, and more.

In 2006, John Crowley, originally from Dublin, opened Aqus Cafe to provide a shared space for gatherings in this spirit of people sharing, connecting, and just getting to know each other. Since then, hundreds of people gather each day at the Café, creating a culture of community that has spread beyond the Café walls. Check out Aqus’s website www.aquscafe.com, where you’ll find all kinds of information, including a calendar of Aqus events, how to become an Aqus member, and a newsletter with announcements and community happenings.

In the past year, a wonderful poetry series, called Rivertown Poets A-Museing, has launched. And on Monday, July 7, at 6:40, my dear old friend Alison Luterman will be reading with Sandra Anfang. The featured readers will be followed by an open mic. If you’d like to be part of the open mic reading, come at 6:30 to sign up. For more information: wrdpntr51@gmail.com; https://www.facebook.com/RivertownPoets

Aqus is located at the Foundry Wharf, 189 H Street.

THOUGHTS ON THE DROUGHT
I’d like to keep posting your responses to our shifting climate and current drought. Has the weather drawn from you an essay? a poem? a rant? A lament? If so, please send me what you’ve written. You can send me your thoughts to tehret99@comcast.net. Please write Thoughts on the Drought in the subject line. Try to keep contributions under 250 words.

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS AT COPPERFIELD’S
This month, Redwood Writers and Copperfield’s Books in Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa, have teamed up for three evenings called Hot Summer Nights. The first of these is Tuesday, July 8, 7:00-8:00 p.m. when the theme is “Love and Poetry” with featured readers Michelle Wing, Patricia Nelson, Juanita Martin, Pamela Taeuffer and Kay Mehl Miller. Then on Tuesday, July 15, 7:00-8:00 p.m., the theme will be “Short Stories,” with featured readers Jean Wong, Jo Lauer, Kate Farrell and Sunny Lockwood. The July series finishes up on Tuesday, July 29, 7:00-8:00 p.m. when the topic is “Fiction” and the featured readers are Jeane Slone, Julie Winrich, Thonie Hevron and Lenore Hirsch.

OTHER JULY HIGHLIGHTS
The Sebastopol Senior Center launches its first Open Mic on Thursday, July 10, 1-3 PM. Call 829-2440 to sign up. Location: 167 High Street, Sebastopol.
Later that same day, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Cloverdale Performing Arts Center presents Books on Stage with Sonoma County Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings and novelist Gil Mansergh. Location: 209 North Cloverdale Boulevard, Cloverdale.

On Friday, July 11, 7:00-9:00 p.m., you can enjoy a double book launch featuring Donna Emerson & Phyllis Meshulam at Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Ct.,Occidental.
Bibliophoria Artwalk gets under way on Saturday, July 12, 9:00 a.m. This is a book and print lover’s 2.5 mile round-trip walk exploring the many book resources of Sebastopol.

And here’s something new: “Critters and Creators,” a free reading, RiskPress Gallery, 7345 Healdsburg Ave., Sebastopol on Friday, July 18, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Featured readers are Iris Dunkle, Jodi Hottel, John Johnson, Carol Wade Lundberg and Phyllis Meshulam. They will read in the midst of the critters created by Jann Aanestad and Nancy Winn.

A WRITER’S GETAWAY: RIVER’S BEND
Wellspring-LabyrinthFor many years, Wellspring Renewal Center in Anderson Valley hosted a writing retreat on the banks of the Navarro River. When I was teaching there, I used to lead the writers in building a seven-circuit labyrinth. The stones would stay in place until the river rose in the winter, carrying them downstream towards the sea. Thus, the building of the labyrinth became an annual event.

riversbendWellspring closed a few years ago, but the retreat facility is still there, now reopened as River’s Bend Retreat Center. If you can’t get away to the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference or the Napa Writers’ Conference, but would like some creative writing time, consider booking a personal retreat. Here’s the website for more information: www.riversbendretreat.org.

 

July’s Poem: For this month, I’m featuring two poems that express a love of home-country in different ways.

Emma Lazarus 1849–1887

Emma LazarusEmma Lazarus was born in New York City to a wealthy family and educated by private tutors. She began writing poetry as a teenager and took up the cause — through both poetry and prose — against the persecution of Jews in Russia during the 1880s. Lines from her sonnet “The New Colossus” were engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.

 

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Source: Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems and Other Writings (2002)

Lawrence FerlinghettiLawrence Ferlinghetti is a poet, playwright, editor, and painter, perhaps best known as the founder of City Lights Pocket Bookshop (now City Lights Books), San Francisco, and editor of City Lights Books, 1955—present.

 

I Am Waiting
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “I Am Waiting” from A Coney Island of the Mind. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.

Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print.

Terry Ehret, co-Editor
Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | June 1, 2014

June 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

A few days ago, we lost Maya Angelou, a woman of great mind, heart, and soul. She joins many other bright poet-lights on the other side of the veil. Perhaps in that sense, her work has only just begun. I love this picture of her taken by Chester Higgins in1969, illustrating what Catherine Taylor describes an “enlightened grace.” Here is a bit of that grace in words:

Maya Angelou“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Last month’s post sent some of you thinking about summer writing, travel, and workshops. But for me, the days of reading and writing at my own leisure don’t begin until June. The June calendar of events, workshops, and conferences is full of opportunities. Here are some highlights, along with a few updates from the May post.

Two Local Conferences
We are very lucky to have two excellent conferences just over the Sonoma county borders. Registration is open for both the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, July 30-August 2; and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, July 27-August 1, 2014. Here are the links to their websites: MCWC: www.mcwc.org; NVWC: www.napawritersconference.org.

Three Summer Retreats
Writing Retreat with Pam Houston in Santa Cruz Mountains: June 13-15, 2014: www.pamhoustonevent.com
Point Reyes Writing Retreat with Patti Trimble and Susan Bono, Friday, June 13, 6:00 p.m. to Monday, June 16, 2:00 p.m. www.ptreyes.org/camps-classes-programs/field-institute/classes/10th-annual-point-reyes-writing-retreat
Tracing the Path: Exploring Your Spiritual Journey through Memoir & Craft, a one day women’s retreat in Sebastopol with Noelle Oxenhandler and Susie Stonefield Miller. Sunday, June 22, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. www.susiestonefieldmiller.com/tracing-the-path

Happy Birthday, Sitting Room!
The Sitting Room opens its doors on Sunday, June 8 2-5 PM for its annual birthday party and reading from the 2014 publication: I Knew I Was a Feminist When . . . . For a list of upcoming Sitting Room events and workshops, visit the website: www.sittingroom.org/events.html

Free Sitting Room Workshop
dulac_medea and the fire dragonsLa LhoronaTo thank the Sitting Room for being such an important, supportive, creative space for writers, poet Terry Ehret, storyteller Cathryn Fairlee, and poet-musician Jabez Churchill present a one-day free workshop on the myth of Medea and the legend of La Llarona, on Sunday, June 22, 9 AM to 4 PM. Film, performance, music, pot-luck lunch, discussion, and writing prompts. Contact tehret99@comcast.net to reserve a spot.

Bibiophoria III
Thursday, June 12, 6:00-7:30 p.m. is the official kick off of Bibliophoria III with the opening of three book arts exhibits, at Sebastapol Center for the Arts: At 282 S. High Street, Sebastapol. More details: bibliophoria.com

The Art of the Fantastic
Thursday, June 12, 7:00 p.m. Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series welcomes readers from The Fabulist (www.the-fabulist.org), a journal for fables, yarns, tales and fantastical art. Studio 333, 333 Caledonia Street, Sausalito. For complete details including the authors’ full bios, see: http://whytherearewords.com

Thoughts on the Drought
Though we enjoyed the late spring rains, our hills are turning their summer gold, and our driest year in California history continues. I haven’t received any “thoughts on the drought” poems or essays this month, but here’s one from former U.S. Poet-Laureate Billy Collins, sent last month by Larry Robinson.

Water Table

It is on dry sunny days like this one that I find myself
thinking about the enormous body of water
that lies under this house,
cool, unseen reservoir,
silent except for the sounds of dripping
and the incalculable shifting
of all the heavy darkness that it holds.
This is the water that our well was dug to sip
and lift to where we live,
water drawn up and falling on our bare shoulders,
water filling the inlets of our mouths,
water in a pot on the stove.
The house is nothing now but a blueprint of pipes,
a network of faucets, nozzles, and spigots,
and even outdoors where light pierces the air
and clouds fly over the canopies of trees,
my thoughts flow underground
trying to imagine the cavernous scene.
Surely it is no pool with a colored ball
floating on the blue surface.
No grotto where a king would have
his guests rowed around in swan-shaped boats.
Between the dark lakes where the dark rivers flow
there is no ferry waiting on the shore of rock
and no man holding a long oar,
ready to take your last coin.
This is the real earth and the real water it contains.
But some nights, I must tell you,
I go down there after everyone has fallen asleep.
I swim back and forth in the echoing blackness.
I sing a love song as well as I can,
lost for a while in the home of the rain.
 — Billy Collins

Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at http://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print

Terry Ehret
co-Editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

 

Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

Right now is a great time to be thinking about summer writing, travel, workshops, and conferences to move whatever you’re working on (or avoiding working on) a little further out into the world. The Workshops and Conference pages have the upcoming offerings, and you can access either of both in a click. Space may be limited, so best to register soon.

Conferences
We are very lucky to have two excellent conferences just over the Sonoma county borders. Registration is open for both the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, July 30-August 2; and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, July 27-August 1, 2014. Here are the links to their websites: MCWC: www.mcwc.org; NVWC: www.napawritersconference.org.

Summer Retreats
Writing Retreat with Pam Houston in Santa Cruz Mountains: June 13-15, 2014: www.pamhoustonevent.com

Point Reyes Writing Retreat with Patti Trimble and Susan Bono, Friday, June 13, 6:00 p.m. to Monday, June 16, 2:00 p.m. www.ptreyes.org/camps-classes-programs/field-institute/classes/10th-annual-point-reyes-writing-retreat

Tracing the Path: Exploring Your Spiritual Journey through Memoir & Craft, a one day women’s retreat in Sebastopol with Noelle Oxenhandler and Susie Stonefield Miller. Sunday, June 22, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. http://www.susiestonefieldmiller.com/tracing-the-path

New Workshops
Dan Coshnear’s popular writing and editing workshops return to the Sitting Room: 5/10, 5/17 & 5/24, 5/31. 9:30 to 12:30 Saturday mornings. Contact coshn@sonic.net or 707-869-0329.

Poet Terry Ehret, storyteller Cathryn Fairlee, and poet-musician Jabez Churchill present a one-day free workshop on the myth of Medea and the legend of La Llarona, on Sunday, June 22, 9 AM to 4 PM. Film, performance, music, pot-luck lunch, discussion, and writing prompts. Contact tehret99@comcast.net to reserve a spot.

No time to get away to write?
Check out Katherine Hastings’s Poet Laureate Page, where each installment of her “Digging Our Poetic Roots” project is featured. You can stay wherever you are and enjoy the mini-workshop for free. This month’s topic is Ekphrasis (not to be confused with the sound your cat makes coughing up a fur-ball!)

And just for fun!
Thursday, May 8, 8:00 p.m. Conspiracy of Beards present the Songs of Leonard Cohen performed by an a cappella men’s chorus and poet Rusty Rebar at the Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma. conspiracyofbeards.com.

Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m.-noon. Redwood Writers hosts the next Library Open Mic at the Santa Rosa Central Library, 211 E St., Santa Rosa. The theme in May is “Young at Heart,” in honor of Older Americans Month. The general public is invited to sign up to read. www.redwoodwriters.org.

Happy Birthday, Sitting Room!
The Sitting Room opens its doors on Sunday, June 8 2-5 PM for its annual birthday party and reading from the 2014 publication: I Knew I Was a Feminist When . . . . For a list of upcoming Sitting Room events and workshops, visit the website: www.sittingroom.org/events.html

Writing and Travel
I’m looking for five fellow writers and travelers to join me on a return trip to enchanted Wales in the summer of 2015. Dates have yet to be set, depending on the schedules of the travelers. That’s more than a year away, I know, but this is the time to give it some thought. I’ll be taking sign-ups this fall. You can visit the website for itinerary, accommodations, costs, etc. at http://wales2013.wordpress.com. Contact me at tehret99@comcast.net if you’re interested.

Thoughts on the Drought
Back in January, I invited members of the literary community to send me their thoughts on the California drought, and each month, I have featured those I’ve received at the end of the new post. Given the recent glorious rain, it may not feel that we’re still in drought conditions, but, of course, we are. This month’s poems are by Jonah Raskin and Lilith Rogers.

If you have a short piece (250 words or less) on this subject, please send them to me at tehret99@comcast.net. Use the subject line “Thoughts on the Drought.”

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Click here to download a pdf of most of the pages on our website.

Drop of Rain
by Jonah Raskin

I have watched the world
unfold in a drop of rain,
watched the raindrop
kiss the earth,
the earth embrace the solitary drop
as you and I, as he and she,
take turns,
as the world returns,
as dawn and dusk collapse the sun,
as the river enters the sea,
as the soil exhausts and renews itself,
as you and I, and he and she,
take turns
on altars and in fields,
as the silver slither of the moon
rises over the dry dry valley and as
the world unfolds in a drop of rain.

After the First Rain of the Season
by Lilith Rogers

I was hanging out
in the redwoods
down the road
from here
and I could feel
and even—
it seemed to me—
to taste
their happiness.

This wasn’t just a light fog
these trees had to work hard
to harvest
with their thin little needles
high up at their tops
and send all the way down
to their roots.

This was a REAL rain
that fell and fell
and just a few hours after
the rain has started
these happy trees
are already free
of roadside dust
and shiny
with new life.

Oh, and now
I’m further down the road
in amongst some oaks and firs
and they seem happy, too.
But not as exuberantly so.

Posted by: wordrunner | April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

It’s April—National Poetry Month! Yes, it can be cruel, if you happen to be Poet Laureate and have more invitations to read than you can possibly accept, or if you find yourself at the receiving end of an April Fool’s prank. In case of the latter, may you be blissfully delighted by any such high spirits.

Speaking of which, one of my favorite April Fool’s pranks is known as the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect. As reported on Wikipedia, in 1976, British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 am that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience “a strange floating sensation.” Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked, among them a woman who reported that she and her 11 friends were “wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room.”

Here in Sonoma County, April looks like a feast of riches, as one look at the calendar page will reveal. Among these are book launches, writing conferences, readers’ theater, writing retreats, music and poetry, calls for submission, and invitations to sit quietly at home and write.

The first two announcements are especially time-sensitive, as they have April 1 deadlines. I hope this post arrives in time for you to come down from your round-the-room orbit and settle back at your computer or nestle into your writing chair.

I Knew I was a Feminist When . . .
Have you got a story, essay, poem, photo, or B &W artwork on this theme? If so today, April 1, is the deadline for the Sitting Rooms 2014 publication. For details, visit www.sittingroom.org/style-guide.html.

California Poets in the School’s 50th Anniversary
In honor of its 50th anniversary, California Poets in the School’s is publishing a celebratory book called Poetry Crossing, edited by Sonoma County’s own Phyllis Meshulam. Poets who contributed their poetry lessons include Francisco Alarcón, Ellen Bass, Robert Hass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Ted Kooser, Gary Snyder, and many others. Whether you’re looking for a way to spark your own creativity, or lessons that will bring poetry alive to young people, you’ll be delighted with this collection. If you’d like to make a contribution to the kickstarter campaign and reserve your own copy, today is the deadline. Check out this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/413315824/poetry-crossing-from-california-poets-in-the-schoo

Two Poets Laureate at the Sitting Room
Katherine HastingsTerry EhretYou’re all invited to join our new Poet Laureate, Katherine Hastings, and me for a reading at the Sitting Room on Saturday, April 12, from 2-4 p.m. There will be tea and tasty treats, as well as an opportunity to tour the Sitting Room’s collection, which includes a very intimate and delightful poetry room. Besides an afternoon of poetry, you’ll be able to find out more about Katherine’s Digging Our Poetic Roots project and how you can get involved. For details about this, visit the Poet Laureate’s News page of this month’s update.

Honor the Earth with “Idle No More”
Idle No MoreApril is the month we celebrate Earth Day, and in honor of our home planet, the Arlene Francis Center is hosting an exciting event with the grassroots movement “Idle No More” on Wednesday, April 9, 7-9 p.m. at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 6th Street, Santa Rosa. Idle No More was founded in Canada just over a year ago by Indigenous women resisting the government’s breaking of treaties, the resource exploitation of First Nations land, tar sand extraction and the many pipelines required to transport the sludge. The vision of the movement revolves around Indigenous Ways of Knowing rooted in Indigenous Sovereignty to protect water, air, land and all creation for future generations. There will be drumming by the Native Resistance Drum Group, music to be announced, and a presentation and discussion of Idle No More with Jess and Nina. This is a fundraiser for Idle No More – $10 donation suggested, but no one turned away. Information – 707-575-8902. Sponsored by the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, Healdsburg Peace Project, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, 350 Sonoma County, and Green Party Sonoma.

Redwood Writers Conference
From Pen to PublishedComing up this month on Saturday, April 26, 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m is the 2014 Redwood Writers Conference, “From Pen to Published.” The conference will be held this year at the Bertolini Student Center at Santa Rosa Junior College. John Rothmann and Dana Gioia will be keynote speakers. For more information about the conference schedule and registration, go to www.redwoodwriters.org and click on the “Conference” tab.

Thoughts on the Drought (or the rain!)
Back in January, I invited members of the literary community to send me their thoughts on the California drought, and each month, I have featured those I’ve received at the end of the new post. Given the recent glorious rain, it may not feel that we’re still in drought conditions, but, of course, we are. For April, I’m pleased to share poems by Sonoma County authors Arlene Mandell, Carol Wade-Lundberg, and Jodi Hottel.

If you have a short piece (250 words or less) on this subject, please send them to me at tehret99@comcast.net. Use the subject line “Thoughts on the Drought.”

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Click here to download a pdf of most of the pages on our website.

__________

After a Violent Rain Storm
by Arlene Mandell

Surrounded by vast acres of state forest
blanketed in valley fog, my yard is strewn
with downed branches. Hands protected
by worn gloves I lift the rotted wood
filling two trash cans, then toss a branch
to the dog.

Resting on the back steps, I listen
to the winter creek rushing downhill
breathe in the rich loamy scent . . .
and realize that for centuries
trees have toppled, turned to compost
on this mountainside.

I haul the cans to the road, whistle
for the dog and head inside for tea
and biscuits to reward my sincere
but trifling efforts.

__________

Drought Year at Putah Creek
by Carol Wade Lundberg

The river sleep beneath
rock & sand
random rusted cans, a

lone silt-crusted tire
& surprising
eruptions of desert flowers

in the gray gravel bed.
The river waits:
from rocky cliffs

six feet above the ghost
of last year’s
waterline, the covert

trickle of an underground
spring. Cows
sniff out its salacious

Ephemera, plodding
down dusty
hills through the rounded

canopies of live oak
false clouds
of dust rising from

their mammoth hooves
to lick its
meager promise. Watching

from the cover
of the ridge
we try to

(remember the penitential words that will)

call it forth

__________

Drought
by Jodi Hottel

ashen trees
jaundiced hills
against stark blue horizon—
my eyes too
are thirsty

At Last
by Jodi Hottel

Olive trees wave their limbs—
rain washes the dust
from their thousand eyes.

Posted by: wordrunner | March 1, 2014

March 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

I’m writing to you from Seattle where this year’s Associated Writing Programs (AWP) conference is underway. Among the featured presenters are Annie Proulx, Coleman Barks, Gary Snyder, Ursula LeGuin, Tobias Wolf, Amy Tan, Joy Harjo, Jane Hirshfield, Bob Hass, Sherman Alexie. In addition to these luminaries, there are many fellow Sonoma County writers in attendance. I’ll update with photos and a roll call as the conference unfolds.

Women’s History Month
Here are a few of the literary ways to mark this remembrance and celebration.

Saturday, March 8, noon-2:00 p.m. Redwood Writers hosts the next Library Open Mic at the Santa Rosa Central Library, 211 E St., Santa Rosa. The theme in March is “Women,” in honor of International Women’s Day, which is on the day of the reading. The general public is invited to sign up to read. For more information about Redwood Writers or this event, go to www.redwoodwriters.org. For directions or information about the library, call (707) 545-0831 or go to http://www.sonoma.lib.ca.us.

Sitting Room Annual Publication Deadline Extended to April 1.
Sitting Room invites you to contribute to their annual publication. The theme for 2014 is When I First Realized I Was a Feminist. We are not going to define the term, but simply invite accounts of the first time you realized you were a feminist. All ages and genders are welcome to contribute, in prose, poetry, or black-and-white illustration. Here’s our style guide and publication address. We have received several 2-3 sentence responses, similar to those click moments featured in early issues of Ms. So if you don’t want to create a full-page account, then feel free to submit a CLICK! For details, visit www.sittingroom.org/style-guide.html.

Monday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. On St. Patrick’s Day, Sonoma County’s Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings will be the featured reader at the Crossroads Irish American Festival in San Francisco. The venue will be Bookshop West Portal, 80 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco. An evening of Irish Soda Bread, drinks and poetry: www.irishamericancrossroads.org/calendar.html

Saturday, March 29, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter is hosting its annual Pitch-O-Rama in San Francisco at the Women’s Building, 3543 18th St. (between Guerrero & Valencia Sts.) . You will have an opportunity to pitch your book to 12 literary agents, publishers and editors. The morning includes a free pre-pitch training session when writers will receive training; a two-hour, one-on-one pitch session; and mentoring throughout the pitch session. For for more information and to register, please see the WNBA’s website: http://wnba-sfchapter.org/pitch-o-rama-2014. The fee is $65 for members and $75 for nonmembers.

Thoughts on the Drought
Last month, I invited you to send me your thoughts on the California drought. We’ve all felt the drought in our bones for weeks before the official declaration. Has the weather drawn from you an essay? a poem? a rant? A lament? If so, please send me what you’ve written.

You can send me your thoughts to tehret99@comcast.net. Please write Thoughts on the Drought in the subject line. Try to keep contributions under 250 words.

I received two responses in February, which I share with you below.

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

________________________________

A beautiful young father, an Acoma Pueblo Indian tour guide at his tribe’s museum, told me how he had played in a creek near Santa Fe as a child. Now, he said, it’s dry and my daughter can’t enjoy it. I know whose fault that is.

A day later, I was at the Santa Fe Plaza walking slowly past the jewelry offerings. Many of the Pueblo Indians came from hours away to sell their gorgeously crafted pieces. But I literally stuck up my nose from their unwashed smell. Culture clash, I’d supposed.

Now I soon will be unwashed and smelly. It’s all a question of available water.

—Susan Spaulding

Light Rain

Such a wondrous sound
after an absence of months,
rain tumbling down
in holy hush.
Whatever she touches
sighs in deep thanks.
Pores open wide, roots
wriggle, unfurl, drink
their fill, let the rest
stream in swells.

We pray you, return
again and again. Our
parched earth is bereft,
people afraid. Thank
you dear Earth for
seeing our needs, may
we meet yours before
we’re pushed to plead .
Water our hearts with
fresh, bountiful springs.

—Raphael Block

________________________________

Click here for a pdf that contains most of the pages on the website, updated for March 2014.

Posted by: wordrunner | February 1, 2014

February 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

It’s a strange non-winter we’ve just passed through with searing frost, but without rain or snow, the driest year on record in California History. Like an answer to a prayer, light rains darkened the thirsty ground this past week, and a modest snowfall is coming down in the Sierras as I write these words. I’m heading up to Hope Valley today for a little snow-shoeing, grateful I won’t have to clamber about on bare rock. But we know it’s not enough.

Thoughts on the Drought
We’ve all felt the drought in our bones for weeks before the official declaration. Has the weather drawn from you an essay? a poem? a rant? A lament? If so, please send me what you’ve written. I’m thinking of including these in next month’s post.

You can send me your thoughts to tehret99@comcast.net. Please write Thoughts on the Drought in the subject line. Try to keep contributions under 250 words.

Poetry Out Loud
Coming up on tomorrow evening, February  2, is the annual Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Competition. If you’ve never been, consider adding this to your weekend plans. The program features high school students who have memorized poems for recital. It’s a chance to hear poetry returned to its oral form, the words coming alive in remarkable ways; even familiar pieces by Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson can sound entirely new in their delivery.

The program runs from 6:30 to 9:30 at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Free admission. Details on County News page.

Record-a-Poem on SoundCloud
Record-a-PoemMaybe you have a favorite poem you’ve learnt by heart, or simply love to hear read out loud? The Poetry Foundation has created the Record-a-Poem group where everyone is invited to post audio recordings of their favorite poems.

Here’s the link with samples to listen to and instructions for uploading your own favorite poem recording: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2013/03/record-a-poem-on-soundcloud.

Rumi’s Caravan
Rumi’s Caravan is returning to the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa Saturday, February 8 for its 13th season. Critics have called this “the premier poetry event of the year for the North Bay.” The evening begins with a 5:45 PM reception of Persian appetizers and wine, followed by a 7:00 PM performance of poetry in the ecstatic tradition accompanied by middle eastern music.

All proceeds will go to benefit the Climate Protection Campaign. Tickets are $25 and can be bought online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/533642.

In the Mood for Love?
On Sunday February 9, 1:30-3:30 p.m. The Healdsburg Literary Guild presents Annual Poetry Valentine. Twenty-one poets chosen after a call for love poems will be reading their selections, accompanied by chocolate goodies, at the Guild’s annual love-gift to the community.  A chapbook of the poems, titled Love by Any Other Name, will be available for purchase, proceeds to the Guild. At the Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Avenue. FREE and open to the public. Info: www.hbglitguild.org.

Digging Our Poetic Roots
roots-bookOur new Sonoma County Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings invites you all to participate in her project called “Digging Our Poetic Roots.” Katherine will regularly select a number of poems over the two-year period to share electronically with our local and invite Sonoma County to respond with poems of their own. Everyone is invited to participate — experienced and inexperienced, young and old. For details about the project and how you can sign up to participate, visit the Poet Laureate News page.

Call for Poetry Manuscripts
For those of you with poetry manuscripts in the drawer, Sixteen Rivers Press announces that the deadline for submissions for the 2013 manuscript competition has been extended! Manuscripts will now be accepted up to March 1, 2014 both online and through regular mail. All other submission guidelines still apply. Please see complete guidelines at www.sixteenrivers.org/wordpress/submit-work.

Here are two poems for the season: “The Drought,” by Gary Soto, and “Tenderness and Rot,” a poem about love, by Kay Ryan

gary_sotoThe Drought

The clouds shouldered a path up the mountains
East of Ocampo, and then descended,
Scraping their bellies gray on the cracked shingles of slate.

They entered the valley, and passed the roads that went
Trackless, the houses blown open, their cellars creaking
And lined with the bottles that held their breath for years.

They passed the fields where the trees dried thin as hat racks
And the plow’s tooth bit the earth for what endured.
But what continued were the wind that plucked the birds spineless

And the young who left with a few seeds in each pocket,
Their belts tightened on the fifth notch of hunger—
Under the sky that deafened from listening for rain.

Gary Soto, “The Drought” from The Tale of Sunlight
(Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978).
Copyright © 1978 by Gary Soto.
Reprinted with the permission of the author, www.garysoto.com.
Source: Poetry (June 1977).
 

KayRyanTenderness and Rot

Tenderness and rot
share a border.
And rot is an
aggressive neighbor
whose iridescence
keeps creeping over.

No lessons
can be drawn
from this however.

One is not
two countries.
One is not meat
corrupting.

It is important
to stay sweet
and loving.

Source: Poetry (January 2002).
 

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

A pdf of most of the pages on the Update website may be downloaded here.

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