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
You’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”
April 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
Coming 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 email@example.com. Use the subject line “Thoughts on the Drought.”
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
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
sniff out its salacious
hills through the rounded
canopies of live oak
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
by Jodi Hottel
against stark blue horizon—
my eyes too
by Jodi Hottel
Olive trees wave their limbs—
rain washes the dust
from their thousand eyes.