Posted by: wordrunner | February 1, 2019

February 2019

Dear Literary Folk,

My thanks to Jo-Anne Rosen for stepping in to write the January Literary Update post. My husband and I were busy hosting our annual New Year’s Poetry Brunch and then off to Denver to await the arrival of our grandson (baby Connor, born January 12).

Sometimes people wonder who ends up on the invitation list for the New Year’s Brunch. The answer is anyone who asks. If you’d like to be added to the e-mail list for next year’s New Year’s Poetry Brunch, send me a request at tehret99@comcast.net.

Among those who have joined the gathering over the years is Sonoma County poet Clare Morris, who will be reading with Judy Bebelaar on Monday, February 4 in the Rivertown Poets Series at Aqus Cafe, 189 H Street in Petaluma. The reading begins at 6:15. Details about open mic are in the February Calendar of Events.

Women's March 2019, PetalumaOn arriving back in town from Denver, we were in time for our town’s first Women’s March—a diverse line-up of speakers and an impressive turnout. Women’s Marches were held throughout the county, the state, the nation, and even in countries around the world. In honor of the ongoing struggle for a more inclusive society, I’ve chosen a poem for this month by Audre Lorde. You’ll find it at the end of this post.

Remembering Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)
The Thursday Mary Oliver died, I brought one of her poems to my composition students at SRJC. The poem was “The Journey.” I figured they already knew “Wild Geese” and wanted to offer them a poem that might speak to the kinds of hard choices young people have to make as they set out tentatively on their life’s journey. I was surprised to discover that not a student had heard of Mary Oliver! How wonderful, I said. I get to introduce you to her poetry.

Mary OliverI have always appreciated Oliver as an inspirational poet with a gift for writing personally and intimately about nature since I first read her Pulitzer Prize winning American Primitive (1983). That same year at Centrum Writing Conference at Fort Worden, I saw her out early every morning walking alone. My friends and I invited her to join us for dinner one evening; she smiled shyly and declined. We could see how much she guarded her solitude and we respected that. That was way back in 1984. In the years after that, I read her poems that circulated in my writing groups, but it wasn’t until I found her wonderful prose poems in White Pine (1994)that Oliver’s work opened up for me. And although many of her fans wondered about the spiritual direction of her more recent work, I found the collection Thirst (2007) to be very brave. Contemporary poetry doesn’t often deal directly with religious questions or the wrestling with angels.

In a Facebook post, Marin poet Rebecca Foust recommended an essay on Mary Oliver by Catherine Pierce, who admits that she had not seriously read Oliver’s “accessible poems of praise” until a student asked her to recommend some poetry that was uplifting. Pierce reexamines her previous judgment of the value of Oliver’s work and commits “to incorporate more poems of wonder and solace into my teaching, and to work more consciously to show students that these subjects aren’t off-limits for writers.” Here’s a link to the article: On Mary Oliver and Resisting Poems of Gladness – The Millions

This past year, I’ve been teaching workshops at the Sitting Room which focus on contemporary American women poets. Some writers in the workshops have requested that we study Mary Oliver. After reading Pierce’s article (and another interesting one about what Oliver’s poetry means to a young lesbian writer), I decided to rearrange my syllabus to include Oliver’s work, along with Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, and Joy Harjo. I’m looking forward to the chance to discover some of her less famous poems and to reconsider the range of her work, her vision, and her voice.

Getting the Word Out About Your Work
Book Passage in Corte Madera will host a Literary Salon: How Writers Get the Word Out, with Linda Watanabe McFerrin in conversation with author Ann Steiner, Ph.D. This will be Monday, February 4, 7:00 p.m. Location: 51 Tamal Vista Dr. Corte Madera. Check the calendar page for details.

Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud, February 11
Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud contestantsTime again for the annual Poetry Out Loud Contest. Sonoma County high school students participate in a national recitation program, initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts. You’ll hear oral interpretations of great poems by students from Analy, Casa Grande, Creekside, El Molino, Elsie Allen, John Muir Charter, Maria Carrillo, Petaluma, Piner, Rancho Cotate, Roseland Collegiate Prep, Roseland University Prep, Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy, and Windsor.

The county winner will advance to the state competition. There is no cost to the school or the students to participate. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by NEA throughout the country, and in all of California by the California Arts Council and in Sonoma County by California Poets in the Schools, Creative Sonoma, Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, and Clover Sonoma.

This year’s event is on Monday, February 11, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm in the Forum Room, Central Library, 211 E. St., Santa Rosa. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Phyllis Meshulam, 707-486-7450.

Local Historian Michael Morey at Occidental Center for the Arts.
Michael MoreyIn honor of Black History Month: OCA Book Launch Series presents local historian Michael Morey’s Fagen: An African American Renegade in the Philippine-American War. In 1899, David Fagen, a Buffalo Soldier, gains fame as a Filipino revolutionary. The event is on Friday, February 15, 7:00 p.m. 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd. See the calendar page for details.

An Afternoon with Barbara Henning and Maureen Owen
Sunday, March 3, at 3 PM, North Bay Letterpress Arts hosts nationally acclaimed poets Barbara Henning and Maureen Owen on the final leg of their cross country reading tour from NYC to the Bay Area. Come hear them read and relate their adventures at North Bay Literary Arts, 925-d Gravenstein Highway South Sebastopol, California (behind Bee Kind). The event is free but donations are gratefully encouraged.

Barbara Henning and Maureen Owen
Poem for February

Audre LordeFrom the House of Yemanjá
by Audre Lorde

My mother had two faces and a frying pot
where she cooked up her daughters
into girls
before she fixed our dinner.
My mother had two faces
and a broken pot
where she hid out a perfect daughter
who was not me
I am the sun and moon and forever hungry
for her eyes.

I bear two women upon my back
one dark and rich and hidden
in the ivory hungers of the other
mother
pale as a witch
yet steady and familiar
brings me bread and terror
in my sleep
her breasts are huge exciting anchors
in the midnight storm.

All this has been
before
in my mother’s bed
time has no sense
I have no brothers
and my sisters are cruel.

Mother I need
mother I need
mother I need your blackness now
as the august earth needs rain.
I am

the sun and moon and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall meet
and not be
one.

Audre Lorde, “From the House of Yemanjá” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by Audre Lorde. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

______

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

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Posted by: wordrunner | January 2, 2019

January 2019

Dear literary folk,

Terry is traveling this holiday season, and I’m covering her beat this first month of 2019. Here’s a sampling of what we can look forward to on the literary front in January:

The Last Devadasi by Barbara BaerBarbara Baer’s new book The Last Devadas will be launched Sunday, January 13, 3:00 p.m. at Occidental Center for the Arts. Passionate and forbidden love clashes with tradition and caste in a changing India. Selected readings, Indian dance troupe performance, Q&A, book sales and signing. Exotic refreshments. Admission free, all donations gratefully accepted. Wine and beer for sale, refreshments by donation. OCA is located at 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd. and is wheelchair accessible. For more info: 707-874-9392 or occidentalcenterforthearts.com.

Off the Page Readers TheaterOur local readers theater, Off the Page, will present their new show, “What Goes Around…” on Friday and SaturdayJanuary 18 and 19 (7:00 p.m.) at Copperfield’s Books in Santa Rosa, and on Sunday, January 20 (3:00 p.m.) at Abacus in Sebastapol. (See calendar for details.) Off the Page is a Sebastopol-based readers theater group dedicated to supporting the works of local writers and actors. Musical opening by Patrick Michael McCarty and the stories, plays and poems of these writers: David Beckman, Malena Eljumaily, Jeremy Mitchell, Peter Moller, Margo Perin, Laurie Reaume, Jo-Anne Rosen, Linda Saldaña, Lisa Shulman, and Bright Winn. Copperfield’s Books, 775 Village Court, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa. Abacus is located at 101 S. Main St., Sebastopol. Tickets at the door: $15 general, $10 students.

Sunday January 20, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Fiction and Poetry Mixer at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 High Street, Sebastopol. Ron Thomas will be featured reading from his recently published novel, I Want To Walk You Home. Devika Brandt, Donna Emerson, and Helen Heal will read poetry.

Sonoma County in Print: We were not notified of any new books being published in December, which is not unusual at end of year, but congratulations to several authors who were published in literary journals. See https://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print for details. Please do let us know when you’ve got a poem, story or book newly in print. And do check the Calls for Submission page for publishing opportunities.

Rites of PassagePetaluma-based Wordrunner eChapbooks will be considering fiction, memoir/CNF and poetry for the spring 2019 anthology, to be published in April 2018. The theme is Upheavals—any disruption or disturbance of the natural order of things. (Disclaimer: I publish this hybrid chapbook-literary journal, along with a few writer-colleagues, three times annually.) As always, we are looking for emotional complexity and clear, uncluttered writing, and we’d be very pleased to publish local authors. Readings are blind. Submissions are open January 1 to February 28, 2019. Authors are paid. We are proud of our 35 issues to date, some of which are also available in ebook format. Take a look at www.echapbook.com for top-notch writing, all of it free online. Guidelines and submission link are at http://echapbook.com/submissions.html

Wishing all of you a creative and joyous new year,

Jo-Anne Rosen
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | December 1, 2018

December 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

On a River Winding Home
On a River Winding HomeFor at least 20 years, I’ve been enjoying the photography of Petaluma artist Scott Hess. Like a good poem, his photos often teach me to see what I’d otherwise overlook. Some of you may enjoy his work on Facebook, and if so, then you know that he has recently teamed up with writer John Sheehy to produce a fabulous collection of photos and stories about local landscape and history: On a River Winding Home. (https://www.facebook.com/PetalumaRiverWatershed/)


Dine with the Authors
I hope you’ll check out Scott’s Facebook page for this book and catch the opportunity to “Dine with the Authors” 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, December 10 at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa. Scott, John, along with Susanna Solomon, Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores, John Joseph O’Brien, and Kitty Wells, will be reading from their latest published books. You’ll need reservations, so check the calendar page for all the details.

Reverberations at Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Just a reminder that if you haven’t had the chance to view the art and poetry exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, you can catch the last two days of Reverberations: A Visual Conversation this weekend. This unique exhibit pairs over 40 works of art with original poems inspired by the art. Artists include Francis Bacon, Enrique Chagoya, Viola Frey, Robert McChesney, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, and many of the poets are from Sonoma County, including Katherine Hastings, Maya Khosla, Gwynn O’Gara, Barbara Hirschfeld, Nancy Dougherty, and Fran Claggett. The range of styles, both of the artists and the poets, is astonishing. The exhibit closes on December 2. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday to 12 pm to 5 pm.

Make Art Not War
Women Artists Datebook/Syracuse Cultural Workers
One of my favorite publishers is a company called Syracuse Cultural Workers, a progressive publisher committed to peace, sustainability, social justice, feminism and multiculturalism. I like them for many reasons, but most of all, for the respectful way they treat their artists and writers.

Syracuse Cultural WorkersHere’s what the term “Cultural Workers” means to them: “First, that the task of creating culture in a society is not the work of an elite, highly-paid few—which has become the case in our mass-market society. . . . Second, that people who create culture are legitimate workers who deserve to be recognized and valued for their work, not ‘patronized.’ Third, that the process of creation is based in a desire to improve the lives of people not to just turn a profit. Fourth, that all of us, in some way, are capable of being cultural workers if we can only free ourselves from ‘I’m not talented’ paralysis that elitism and competition produce in our capitalist society.

I’ve been fortunate to have poems published in years past in their annual Women Artists Datebook, and so when I recently received their call for submissions for their 2020 datebook, I wanted to pass this along to the literary folk of Sonoma County.

They include in every edition up to 16 pieces of visual art and 15 pieces of poetry by ANY women (including LGBTQIAA). They pay their contributors for their work, unlike most poetry publications.

Here’s the link to find out more about Syracuse Cultural Workers and check their submission guidelines: datebook@syracuseculturalworkers.com.

Fire and Rain at Iota Press
Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of CaliforniaThis Sunday, December 2, Iota Press in Sebastopol hosts a poetry reading with Iris Dunkle, Donna Emerson, Gail Entrekin, Catharine Lucas, Elizabeth Heron, and Barbara Quick, who will be reading their poems from the new anthology, Fire and Rain, Ecopoetry of California, edited by Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan. The reading is 2:30-4:30 p.m. Iota Press is located at 925 Suite D, Gravenstein Highway.

Writing and Collage with Susan Hagen
Also on Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., local writer Susan Hagen and collage artists Susanne Petermann will lead a workshop “Image and Word: Writing and Collage for Women,” a dynamic combination of collage-making and writing practice that opens a door to the inner life. All art materials are included. Check the calendar listing for details.

December Story-Telling Events
Sher Lianne Christian will host Story Time Open Mic at Hardcore Coffee in Sebastopol on Wednesday, December 5, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Bring a 5-minute story to share. Location: 81 Bloomfield Rd, on the corner of 116 and Bloomfield in Sebastopol. Details on the calendar page.

And on Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 p.m. West Side Stories Petaluma presents the GrandSlam at the Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, where you’ll hear eight months worth of winning tellers (plus three wild card tellers) join last year’s champ for an evening of amazing stories. Go to davepokornypresents.com for your tickets.

The WIckham's Christmas at PemberlyDon’t Miss Marin Theater Company’s Christmas at Pemberly
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a theater aspiring to community goodwill, not to mention a dependable income stream, must be in want of a holiday show” (Celia Wren).

Two years ago, a friend took me to see Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly, an original play by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but focusing on the younger sister and wallflower Mary Bennet. It was absolutely charming!

This year, MTC has a new Austen spin by the same authors: The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley. Whether you’re an Austen fan or not, you’ll have fun.

Poem for December
Here’s one of my favorite poems by Marin poet and former US Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. It is a meditation on the etymology and connotations of the word “crib,” and finally a commentary on the Christian Nativity. Like many of Ryan’s poems, this one takes some twists you won’t expect.

Crib

From the Greek for
woven or plaited,
which quickly translated
to basket. Whence the verb
crib, which meant “to filch”
under cover of wicker
anything–some liquor,
a cutlet.
For we want to make off
with things that are not
our own. There is a pleasure
theft brings, a vitality
to the home.
Cribbed objects or answers
keep their guilty shimmer
forever, have you noticed?
Yet religions downplay this.
Note, for instance, in our
annual rehearsals of innocence,
the substitution of manger for crib
as if we ever deserved that baby,
or thought we did.

Crib,” by Kay Ryan, from Elephant Rocks, Grove Press, 1996.

Terry Ehret, Literary Update co-editor

Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2018

November 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

Tree of LifeLast night, we celebrated the Eve of All Hallows with Jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treaters. Today, All Saints Day, gives way at sunset to the celebration of All Souls and El Día de los Muertos. Among the dead whose memory we hold precious are those gunned down in Pittsburgh. The irony of these deaths in a sanctuary called Tree of Life  makes the tragedy all that more poignant.

Think of them and all who have lost their lives as the shadows of hatred and violence continue to move across our nation. Our friend Penelope La Montagne, who passed away last March, once wrote, “Perhaps the only way to transfer a wee worm of hope to another human being is to go out of your way to do a kindness for another. A split second extension of heart to hand or voice.”

Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading
Communities throughout Sonoma County celebrate El Día de los Muertos, and one of my favorite gatherings is the annual Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading. Petaluma poet John Johnson organized this year’s reading, held at the Petaluma Campus of SRJC in the Multi-Cultural Center called Mi Casa/My House. Phyllis Meshulam of California Poets in the Schools brought two young poets to present their poems of remembrance, bringing the house to tears. We also heard readings from bilingual poet Beatriz Lagos, originally from Argentina; and bilingual poet and artist Katie Numi Usher, from Belize. Jodi Hottel spoke about Obon, the Buddhist tradition of honoring one’s ancestors, and demonstrated a simple folk dance from the Japanese tradition. And then it was the community’s turn to share their poems against the backdrop of candles, photos, and mementos on the altar. Thanks to all who helped create this intimate evening.

Katherine HastingsCelebrating Katherine Hastings and Word Temple
How lucky were we to have Katherine Hastings and the WordTemple Reading Series and Radio Show she created, directed, and nurtured for 15 years! On October 20, the literary community got the chance to thank Katherine when she returned briefly from her new home in Grand Island, New York. Jerry Fleming, Greg Randall, Jodi Hottel, Gwynn O’Gara, and a very appreciative audience of friends and fans gathered to pay tribute to Katherine’s many contributions, and then to hear her read. Thankfully, WordTemple will continue Katherine’s legacy under the guidance of Greg Randall.

Reverberations at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Reverberations-McChesneyNow, this is really cool! The Sebastopol Center for the Arts has just opened in its fabulous art gallery an exhibit called “Reverberations.A Visual Conversation.” This unique exhibit pairs over 40 works of art with original poems inspired by the art. Artists include Francis Bacon, Enrique Chagoya, Viola Frey, Robert McChesney, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, and many of the poets are from Sonoma County, including Katherine Hastings, Maya Khosla, Gwynn O’Gara, Barbara Hirschfeld, Nancy Dougherty, and Fran Claggett. The range of styles, both of the artists and the poets, is astonishing. Hundreds of people came to the opening reception on October 25, but if you missed that, know that the exhibit runs through December 2. SCA is located at 282 S. High Street, Sebastopol. Entry is free. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and have been extended on Saturday and Sunday to 12:00 to 5:00 p,m.

Many events have been planned for November around the Reverberations Exhibit.

November 3 at 7:00 p.m. Reverberations: A Visual Conversation—The Poets Speak
November 8 at 7:00 p.m. “Living with Art”: A Panel Discussion
November 15 at 7:00 p.m. An Evening of Short Films
November 16 at 2:00 p.m. Linda Loveland Reid, “Reverberations: The Artists Revealed”
November 17 at 7:00 p.m. Reverberations: A Visual Conversation—The Poets Speak

A Cage Event
etchings by John CageMy own contribution to Reverberations is a series of poems written to accompany three etchings from a series called Smoke Weather, Stone Weather, by John Cage.

You can get an inside look at Cage’s work and the poems I composed in response to them, using a poetic technique called Mesostic, on Friday, November 9, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The event will include a film of Cage and the creation of this particular series of etchings at Crown Point Press in San Francisco. The event is at SCA, and it is free. But it’s a good idea to register to ensure you have a seat. You can register and learn more about this and all the events in the Reverberations series at https://sebarts.org/reverberations

Poetry for a Changing Landscape: Join Maya Khosla for an Autumn Walk with Writing
On Sunday, November 11, 2:00-6:00 p.m. join Sonoma County’s Poet Laureate, Maya Khosla, for an afternoon exploring the land and responding to it on the page. We will hike, reflect and share short works in a supportive environment. A special focus will be given to the surrounding natural areas now in the early stages of regeneration, which began shortly after the October 2017 fires. At Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Details about registration on this month’s calendar page.

Fall Back
River's Bend cabinThis time of year, as we fall back and the nights grow long, it seems a good time to make room for the creative spark—to nurture it in a special way. I’m not talking about workshops, though these are often the inspirational life-blood of a writer. Consider, as we ramp up our energy into the holiday season, retreating into your own quiet space to heal and reconnect with what you love. Take a walk among the old grove redwoods in Armstrong Woods; take a drive to the coast and watch the waves rolling in; wander along one of our many rivers; visit the Sitting Room and sit awhile with the extraordinary collection of books, or hunker down in the quiet room for a little writing time.

If you’re looking for a place of your own to write and retreat, consider River’s Bend Retreat Center in Philo. You can rent a cozy cabin with a view of the Navarro River. You can find out more at www.riversbendretreat.org,

VOTEVOTE!
I don’t need to tell you how much is at stake in Tuesday’s election. I encourage you to make your voice matter by voting on November 6. No excuses!

Poem for November
For this month, I’ve selected another poem from the anthology America, We Call Your Name, published by Sixteen Rivers Press. The poem is by Seamus Heaney, the great (and great-hearted) Irish poet (April 13, 1939 – August 30, 2013)

________

From the Republic of Conscience
by Seamus Heaney

I
When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.
At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.
The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

II
Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents
hang swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.
Their sacred symbol is a stylised boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.
At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office-
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

III
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

“From the Republic of Conscience,” from Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.

________

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | October 1, 2018

October 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

elizabethherronTonight, Elizabeth Herron and June Gerron at Rivertown Poets/Aqus Café

The reading begins at 6:15 p.m. Bring your best (or most outrageous) poem to share at open mic, which follows the features. The open mic signup list will be available by 5:45. 189 H Street in Petaluma.

Who is Charmian London?  

Jack London House of Happy Walls jack-london-with-charmian-kitteridge-bookrags-1-300x160

This fall the Jack London State Historic Park opens a new permanent exhibit at the House of Happy Walls featuring the life of Charmian Kittredge London. Saturday, October 6, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Iris Jamahl Dunkle and Clarice Stasz, Ph.d. will discuss Charmian London’s significance in women’s history and her writings. Iris will also read original poems inspired by Charmian’s life and speak about her forthcoming biography. The Sitting Room, 2025 Curtis Dr, Penngrove. Details: www.sittingroom.org/events.html

ws-logoSaturday, October 13, 10 a.m.-4:00 p.m. 23rd Annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival!.”Stand Up for the Earth” with dynamic readings of over thirty poets and writers. Civic Center Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley. The Strawberry Creek Walk, part of the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, poetry,  begins 10 a.m. sharp with talk, and easy walk along beautiful Strawberry Creek through UC Berkeley and its underground path, in a culvert, through downtown Berkeley to the Watershed Festival at Civic Center Park, led by Nevada City poet/eco-educator Chris Olander. Poets include: Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Joan Gelfand, and Maya Khosla. Details: http://poetryflash.org/programs/?p=watershed_2018

2018 Poesía del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading

IMG_1654On Friday, October 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, join Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla and members of the community for the annual El Día de los Muertos “Poesía del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance” celebration.

This year’s event will take place at Our House Intercultural Center, 116 Jacobs Hall, on the SRJC Petaluma Campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Petaluma. https://petaluma.santarosa.edu/maps-directions.

Featured readers will include bilingual poet Beatriz Lagos, originally from Argentina; bilingual poet and artist Katie Numi Usher, from Belize, and sansei (third-generation Japanese American) poet Jodi Hottel, who will tell us about Obon, the Buddhist tradition of honoring one’s ancestors and demonstrate a simple folk dance.

IMG_1671Those who wish to honor the memory of someone who has departed are encouraged to bring something—a photo or an item that reminds them of their loved one—that can be placed on a community altar for the evening.

If you’d like to share a poem or brief statement to remember a loved one, contact John Johnson: johnmjohnson09@gmail.com (707) 338-5765.Poesía del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading is part of the month-long El Día de los Muertos celebrations held in Petaluma during the month of October, featuring community altars, bilingual storytelling, sugar skull workshops, music, dance, and a procession with giant puppets.

Admission is free. Click here for a Schedule of all the El Día de Los Muertos events.

The 2nd Inaugural Wine Country Spoken Word Festival

Hosted by West Side Stories and featuring Steve Connell,Bil Lepp, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Denice Frohman, Elizabeth Ellis and W. Kamau Bell, this event will be held the weekend of Friday, October 19-Saturday, October 22, At the Mystic Theater, Petaluma. For details: www.davepokornypresents.com/2018-schedule

christine-walker-readtowritebooks-com-400-x-400Read to Write Books Renewed: A Guest Feature by Christine Walker

The practice of writing fiction and memoir exercises muscles of empathy, which we need in our culture more than ever. Fulfilling creative potential comes from engagement in one’s chosen art and from helping others achieve their potential. Thus, an important part of my process as an artist and writer has been teaching.

In 2010, I created “Read to Write Books” workshops that I taught at Copperfield’s. I loved doing this and hope to teach locally again in the future. For now, because my travel as a visual facilitator makes it difficult to sustain a class schedule, I created a self-paced course in video and pdfs, “Writing Fiction – 9 Ways to Mastery,” and started a YouTube channel with short “Moments of Mastery” videos. My blog continues to support it all.

I’d love to hear if and how the content enriches your writing journey and creative process. I welcome your suggestions and questions.

Youtube channel: https://bit.ly/2QhnRKV

Online course: https://courses.christinewalker.net

Blog: https://readtowritebooks.com

 

All good wishes & thanks!

Christine Walker, MFA, MA

chris@christinewalker.net 

 

An Evening With Emily Dickinson

1532968065On Monday, October 29, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Holly Springfield will present an intimate portrait of poet Emily Dickinson at the Petaluma Public Library Springfield is an Emily Dickinson scholar and meditation teacher who has been studying, teaching and sharing her passion for Emily Dickinson for the past 18 years. Holly will draw upon poems, letters, biography, 19th century New England culture and stories from her long sojourn with Dickinson, in order to bring lo life an American treasure in an intimate, personal portrait.

Poem for October

Sixteen Rivers Press’ new anthology America, I Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience, includes poems by local authors like Gail Newman, David Beckman, Kay Ryan, Jane Hirshfield, Janet Jennings, Joe Zaccardi, Ellery Akers, and Ada Limon. It also reaches back through the centuries to feature poets who have challenged the status quo of their times. Here’s one by Emily Dickinson.

No. 1096

These Strangers, in a foreign World,”
Protection asked of me—
Befriend them, lest Yourself in Heaven
Be found a Refugee—

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

 

Posted by: wordrunner | September 1, 2018

September 2018

September 1, 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

GoFundMe for the Petaluma Poetry Walk

Petaluma Poetry WalkThe Petaluma Poetry Walk is coming up on Sunday, September 16, but this one-day moveable feast of words needs our help.

In years past, the directors Geri Digiorno and Bill Vartnaw have reached into their own pockets to help cover the costs. Local patrons, businesses, and individuals volunteers and organizers have also made contributions to help the Poetry Walk qualify for Poets & Writers matching funds. Unfortunately, this year the funding from Poets & Writers is not available, which is why we’re reaching out with this GoFundMe campaign.

We’re more than halfway to our goal of $2,000. Please consider making a donation, however small. It only takes a few minutes. Here’s the link to contribute to the Walk’s GoFundMe account:

www.gofundme.com/petaluma-poetry-walk?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=cta_button&utm_campaign=upd_n

The Walk will launch this year at 11 AM at a new venue: The Petauma Hotel’s historic ballroom. Readings continue at various downtown venues, with new authors presenting every hour, finishing at Aqus Café. Discover more about the upcoming walk venues and readers at the Poetry Walk website: www.petalumapoetrywalk.org/

Special thanks to Kevin Pryne for setting up the GoFundMe account, and to The Sitting Room, which has generously offered to be the nonprofit sponsor for this fundraising campaign.

Petaluma Author Expo Petaluma Author Expo September 8th at the Petaluma Library

On Saturday, September 8, the Petaluma Regional Library will host an afternoon with local writers. Designed as a “Meet and Greet” event, the Author Expo will feature more than 30 writers and will offer readers and new writers a chance to talk with published authors about their work.

I will be giving a short opening presentation about the writing process and publishing options to open the event.

The Author Expo is from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Refreshments will be provided, and the event is absolutely free!

Location: 100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma, CA 94952. For information and details, contact Celma de Faria Luster (707)763-9801 ext. 0714.

Need a Space to Meet for your Book Group? The Sitting Room Welcomes You!
The Sitting Room community library would like Book Groups to know that they would be welcome to hold their meetings here. There is comfortable seating for up to 10 people and parking too. We are open from 9 to 5 Mondays – Saturdays, but are happy to make arrangements for other time slots also. If interested in arranging a trial meeting, please call us at 707 795-9028 or email us at boxcar@sonic.net. The atmosphere is right (and people won’t have to straighten up their houses for the occasional occasion). We are right next to Sonoma State University at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove, 94951. Check out our website: www.SittingRoom.org for directions and to get a feel for the place.

WordTemple Returns!

Brenda Hillman

Stephen Kessler

David BeckmanSaturday, September 8, 7:00 p.m. Word Temple Reading Series. Featured readers are Brenda Hillman, Stephen Kessler and David Beckman. Free admission (donation suggested). At Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. Contact: Gregory W. Randall, gwr4745@aol.com. More information at: www.wordtemple.com

T-Bone BurnettT Bone Burnett at the Luther Burbank Center
On Sunday, September 9, 7 PM, accompanied by his guitar, film clips, and decades’ worth of stories, T Bone takes audiences on a tour of his work and collaborations with musicians across all genres, including Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Elton John, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, k.d. lang, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Taylor Swift, Leon Russell, and many more. For tickets and information go to: https://lutherburbankcenter.org/event/on-the-road-with-t-bone-burnett-stories-music-and-movies/

Ed ColettiCelebrate Ed Coletti’s New Chapbook
Saturday September 29, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Ed Coletti will read from his new chapbook Fire Storm at SoCo Coffee, 1015 4th St Santa Rosa. SoCo now has terrific salads, paninis, falafel, and pastries as well as coffee drinks, soft drinks, and a wide tea selection. anniversary of the fire. 707-291-7801.

“A World of Despair; A World of Hope.”
100 Poets for Change
The 8th annual 100 Thousand Poets for Change will take place on Sunday, September 30, 406 PM at Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa. At this international reading, poets all around the world read their poems for change. This year’s event will be dedicated to the children and young people who will be inheriting this severely damaged world from us. Free. Donations welcome. Refreshments provided.

If you are interested in reading or helping or know a young person who would like to read a poem (theirs or someone else’s), please contact Susan Lamont at peacenik@sonic.net.

America We Call Your NamePoems of Resistance and Resilience: Sixteen Rivers Press’s New Anthology
Sixteen Rivers Press announces the release of their new anthology on September 4.

To order your copy, go to this link: www.sixteenrivers.org/authors/our-anthology/.

Susan Griffin and Dean Rader, two of the poets featured in this collection, will be reading at the annual Sixteen Rivers Benefit on Sunday, October 25, 2-5 PM. Join us for an afternoon of wine, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and a reading by these acclaimed poets.

For tickets, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/events/3592360

Poem for September
Ada LimonI’ve been reading the work of Ada Limon lately, in preparation for the workshop I’ll be leading on Contemporary American Women Poets at the Sitting Room. I also had the chance to hear her read and in conversation with Matthew Zapruder at Readers’ Book in Sonoma. She told the audience that she lived as a teenager in an apartment across the street from the bookstore, where she worked from the age of 15. Sonoma remains her home, and she spends part of every year here; her other home is in Kentucky.

The poem for September is from her new collection, The Carrying, © 2018, Milkweed Editions.

Late Summer after a Panic Attack

By Ada Limón

I can’t undress from the pressure of leaves,
the lobed edges leaning toward the window
like an unwanted male gaze on the backside,
(they wish to bless and bless and hush).
What if I want to go devil instead? Bow
down to the madness that makes me. Drone
of the neighbor’s mowing, a red mailbox flag
erected, a dog bark from three houses over,
and this is what a day is. Beetle on the wainscoting,
dead branch breaking, but not breaking, stones
from the sea next to stones from the river,
unanswered messages like ghosts in the throat,
a siren whining high toward town repeating
that the emergency is not here, repeating
that this loud silence is only where you live.

_________________

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | August 1, 2018

August 2018

August 1, 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

The Napa Writers’ Conference is already underway this week, running until Friday, and I imagine many of you are attending. If you’re not signed up for the intensive workshops, you should know about the craft lectures and readings, which are open to the public. Some are free; some have an entry fee, usually $25 each. You’ll find full descriptions with times and locations on the calendar page. This is what’s coming up.

Readings
Wednesday, August 1 – Brenda Hillman and Lan Samantha Chang
Thursday, August 2 – Student Participant Reading

Craft Lectures
Wednesday, August 1—Camille Dungy, Howard Norman
Thursday, August 2—Carl Phillips, Lauren Groff

Marin Poetry Center Summer Traveling Show

Every summer, the Marin Poetry Center organizes a series of readings throughout the North and East Bay. On Sunday, August 12, at 2:00 p.m. Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma will host Traveling Show featured poets Donna Emerson, Gail Entrekin, Dave Seter, Julia Vose and others. For a list of participating poets and venues throughout the Bay Area, visit: www.marinpoetrycenter.org/blog/programs/trav-show.

This event is free. The location is Copperfield’s, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma.

GoFundMe for the Petaluma Poetry Walk

Petaluma Poetry WalkThe Petaluma Poetry Walk needs our help. The Walk is an annual event, taking place this year on September 16, 2018.  This one-day moveable feast of words features poetry readings held at several venues in downtown Petaluma, including a bakery, a gallery, a restaurant, a bookstore and others, all within easy walking distance of one another. Various groups of poets will read their work at each of these venues. This event has been held for the last 22 years and is the premier poetry event in this area.

In years past, the directors Geri Digiorno and Bill Vartnaw have reached into their own pockets to help cover the costs. Local patrons, businesses, and individuals volunteers and organizers have also made contributions to help the Poetry Walk qualify for Poets & Writers matching funds. Unfortunately, this year the funding from Poets & Writers is not available, which is why we’re reaching out with this GoFundMe campaign.

Our goal is $2,000, which will cover this year’s printing costs and can hopefully provide an honorarium for the poets who are reading their work. If we exceed this goal, the Poetry Walk will have a small budget to work with going into next year and beyond.

Please consider making a donation, however small. It only takes a few minutes. Here’s the link to contribute to the Walk’s GoFundMe account:

https://www.gofundme.com/petaluma-poetry-walk?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=cta_button&utm_campaign=upd_n

You can also mail a check or money order to: PO Box 13, Petaluma, CA 94953. You can make the check out to the Petaluma Poetry Walk. However, if you need a tax deduction for your donation, please make the check out to The Sitting Room, and in the memo space, indicate that the donation is for the Petaluma Poetry Walk.

Discover more about the upcoming walk venues and readers at the Poetry Walk website: https://www.petalumapoetrywalk.org/

Special thanks to Kevin Pryne for setting up the GoFundMe account, and to The Sitting Room, which has generously offered to be the nonprofit sponsor for this fundraising campaigne.

Do You Love a Good Mystery?

Then you’ll want to mark your calendar for Wednesday, August 22, 7:00 p.m. Copperfield’s Books’ Midweek Mystery series, featuring Rhys Bowen’s Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding. From the New York Times best-selling author of On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, Rhys Bowen, comes the next installment of the Royal Spyness Mystery series. This event is at Copperfield’s, Montgomery Village Store, 775 Village Court, Santa Rosa. Details: www.copperfieldsbooks.com/event/cafe-society-kristan-higgins

America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience

America We Call Your NameSixteen Rivers Press is pleased to announce the publication of our new anthology, America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience.

This anthology, born in response to the 2016 Presidential election, combines the voices of poets from across America—from red states and blue states, high schools and nursing homes, big cities and small towns—with the voices of poets from other countries and other times. From Virgil and Dante to Claudia Rankine and Mai Der Vang, from Milton to Merwin, from Po-Chü-i to Robin Coste Lewis, these voices—now raucous, now muted, now lyric, now plain—join together here in dissent and in praise, in grief and alarm, in vision and hope. The 126 poems in this book call out to America in resistance to threats to our democracy and in the resilient belief that this fragile, imperfect form of government can and must be preserved.

Among the work in this collection is Sonoma County poet David Beckman’s “my soon-to-be written protest poem.” Other local authors are Tom Centolella, Janet Jennings, Kay Ryan, Lucille Lang Day, Jane Hirshfield, Susan Terris, Brenda Hillman, Judy Halebsky, and Robert Hass.

“These poets have an urgent message to share with you,” writes Camille T. Dungy in the foreword. “This message is brand new, and it is also eternal. Read carefully. What you learn here might just save your life.”

We expect books from the printer by September 4. In the meantime, the book is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can use this link:

https://www.amazon.com/America-We-Call-Your-Name/dp/1939639166?SubscriptionId=AKIAJ2F6RDUSIYCWQMFQ&tag=sa-sym-new-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1939639166

Scroll down to read a sample poem from America, We Call Your Name.

From the Republic of Conscience

I

Seamus HeaneyWhen I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.

At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

II

Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents
hang swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.

Their sacred symbol is a stylised boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office-

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

III

I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.

The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.

He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

“From the Republic of Conscience,” from 
Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.

Seamus Heaney
April 13, 1939 – August 30, 2013

_________________

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | July 1, 2018

July 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

Farewell to Donald Hall

hall2This month, we pay tribute to former U.S. Poet Laureate, Donald Hall, who died on Saturday, June 23, at the age of 89.

Hall was a New England poet, born September 20, 1928, and grew up in Hamden, Connecticut. From the mid 1970’s, he lived with his wife, poet Jane Kenyon, in their rural farmhouse at Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire, until her death from leukemia in 1995. Ironically, Hall had not expected to survive his own cancer diagnosis in 1989, but beat the odds to live another 29 years. In his poetry, Hall expressed both his profound gratitude for these years and his grief at losing Kenyon.

Of Hall’s work, Billy Collins writes, “Hall has long been placed in the Frostian tradition of the plainspoken rural poet. His reliance on simple, concrete diction and the no-nonsense sequence of the declarative sentence gives his poems steadiness and imbues them with a tone of sincere authority. It is a kind of simplicity that succeeds in engaging the reader in the first few lines.”

Hall mentored and encouraged many writers, including some from Sonoma County and the Bay Area, among them Al Young, Carolyn Miller, and Lynne Knight, who wrote this response to Hall’s death, published in Rattle’s Poets Respond on June 26:

IN MEMORIAM

white apples and the taste of stone
—Donald Hall, “White Apples”

The old master is dead,
his gravestone already marked
with lines from a poem
by his wife, whose peonies
blossomed and toppled outside
while he lay in hospice.
Soon his granddaughter will live
in the ancestral house looking out
at blue Mount Kearsarge.
The curved ribs of old horses
buried in the field will again yield
their crop of goldenrod.
Dark clouds over Eagle Pond
turn white as the taste of stone,
white as white apples.

biolynneknightKnight’s response also includes this personal memory:

“I spent much of Sunday mourning the death of Donald Hall, who taught me much of what I know about poetry when I was his student at the University of Michigan. Much later, we had a correspondence over twenty years that sometimes included the exchange of poems. I’ve been re-reading some of his letters, and I came upon this: ‘I want the poem to be as hard as a piece of sculpture, and as immovable, and as resolute, and as whole. I want every word in it to be absolutely inevitable … but another part of the requirement, by and large, is that it should not seem so.’ Then he quoted Yeats: ‘A line will take us hours maybe; / Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought …’ His letter begins: ‘I love talking about this stuff.’ Donald Hall gave so much to the world of letters that I wanted to mark his death with a small poem that evokes his life and work, borrowing his image in the last two lines (“white apples and the taste of stone”). I don’t know if this poem does evoke him, but among many, many other things, he taught me to be persistent.”

I have selected one of my favorite of Hall’s poems, “The Names of Horses,” featured at the end of this post.

To read more about Hall’s life and work, I recommend checking out this NPR link: https://www.npr.org/2012/02/08/146348759/donald-hall-a-poets-view-out-the-window

I also recommend the New York Times article, which you can find at this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/obituaries/donald-hall-a-poet-laureate-of-the-rural-life-is-dead-at-89.html.

 

The Cove’s Call for Submissions: “The Art of Resistance”

We’re living in dark times, politically, but as a literary community, we’re also inspired and challenged to raise our voices to address the widening attacks on our civil liberties and our humanity.

Following up on last month’s introduction to Bart Schneider’s new online journal, The Cove, I’m including this reminder of the call for submission for The Cove’s second issue, “The Art of Resistance.”

Bart invites you to submit poems, short shorts, and brief essays that respond to the political and cultural climate of our time. Work need not reference particular individuals. Preference will be given to writing that wrestles with the problems of topical engagement. Please send work by July 15 to editor Bart Schneider at thecove@kellyscovepress.com.

 

Here are some events I’d like to highlight for July. For a complete list of all the literary events of the month ahead, check the Calendar Page.

bill-vBill Vartnaw and Julie Rogers at Revertown Poets

On Monday, July 2nd, 6:15 p.m. Rivertown Poets will be holding a reading and open mic at the Aqus Cafe, 189 H Street in Petaluma. Featured poets will be Petaluma poet (and Sonoma County Poet Laureate Emeritus) Bill Vartnaw and East Bay poet Julie Rogers. The reading begins at 6:15 p.m. The open mic signup list will be available by 5:45. Open mic will follow the features. Please time your reading to be three minutes or under.

 

Rumi’s Caravan: A Poetic Conversation

03rumiRumi’s Caravan returns to Oakland on Saturday, July 14, 7:00 p.m.. For fifteen years Rumi’s Caravan has inspired audiences, weaving together poems by Rumi, Hafez, Machado, Rilke, Yeats, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, David Whyte and other poets across the world. Recitation of World Poetry by Doug Von Koss, Barry and Maya Spector, Larry Robinson, Kay Crista, Carol Fitzgerald and Carol Bower Foote. With musicians Christine Tulis, Suellen Primost and Sufi dancer Chelsea Rose.

rumi-square2

Unitarian Church, 685 14th Street (doors open at 6:00). $15.00/Advance, $30.00 at the door, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3371248. Performances benefit local non-profit organizations. More details at: www.rumiscaravan.com

 

 

Poetry in the Redwoods with Dana Gioia and Maya Khosla

danagioia_240-1-240x240  poetry_in_the_redwoods_600  maya_khosla-285_web

California State Parks is partnering with Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and the poetry community in Sonoma County to bring Poetry in the Redwoods to the historic Redwood Forest Theater at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

This is a FREE, all-ages event open to poetry lovers, nature lovers, community families and friends. The event will be bookended by live music, a silent auction, and include readings by a diverse group of poets, along with youth participants from this year’s Poetry Out Loud competitions. Participating poets include California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla, plus Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Sandra Anfang, Arthur Dawson, K.M. English, Jackie Hallerberg, Richard Loranger, Brian Martens, Phyllis Meshulam, Margo Perin, Pamela Stone Singer and  Amos White.

This event is in conjunction with the Gourmet Walk in the Redwoods on July 21, 12:00-4:30 p.m.The only cost is that of park admission, $8 per vehicle.

 

Poem for July

The Names of Horses
by Donald Hall

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon’s heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun’s muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground – old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

From The Selected Poems of Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor

Posted by: wordrunner | June 1, 2018

June 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

New Online Journal
The CoveI am delighted to welcome a new Northern California online journal and to celebrate its launch (a month late) with all of you in the literary community. Kelly’s Cove Press founder, editor, publisher, poet and novelist Bart Schneider’s new project is The Cove Magazine, The first issue, appeared May 1, with art, poetry, and short fiction on the theme of the Fire. Among the writers and artists included were Katherine Hastings, Gwynn O’Gara, Dan Coshnear, Chester Arnold, Pat Nolan, Susan Griffin, and many more.

For its second issue, “The Art of Resistance,” Bart invites you to submit poems, short shorts, and brief essays that respond to the political and cultural climate of our time. Work need not reference particular individuals. Preference will be given to writing that wrestles with the problems of topical engagement. Please send work by July 15 to editor Bart Schneider at thecove@kellyscovepress.com.

Bart SchneiderBart Schneider was the founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review and Speakeasy Magazine. He is the author of five novels, including Blue Bossa, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Secret Love, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Berkeley.

Here are just a few of the many literary events coming up this month. For a full list, check the Calendar page.

Sitting Room’s Birthday Party
Sitting Room birthday cakeThe Sitting Room invites the literary community to celebrate its birthday with a garden party from 2-5 PM on Sunday June 3, featuring an amazing cake and even more amazing company. The day is also the launch of the Sitting Room’s 2018 publication Everyone Likes a Good Fairy Tale, and the readings therefrom. It is bound to be a subversive and even revolutionary reading! The Sitting Room, 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove; www.SittingRoom.org

Happy Birthday to Rivertown Poets, Too!
On Monday, June 4, Rivertown Poets will featuring two fabulous Bay Area poets—Alison Luterman and David Beckman—and celebrate five years as a monthly series. The reading begins at 6:15 PM, followed by open mic: three minutes or under. The readings are always on the first Monday of each month at the Aqus Cafe, 189 H Street in Petaluma. If you’d like to sign up to read, get there at 5:45. Enjoy a great meal or beverage while you’re there. The Aqus menu is wonderfully varied.

Maya Khosla to be Honored at the Board of Supervisors
In April, Sonoma County welcomed our new Poet Laureate Maya Khosla in a beautiful reception at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. This month, Maya will be formerly acknowledged by the Board of Supervisors with a resolution chock-full of “whereases” recognizing Maya’s accomplishments. Please join us for this ceremony on Tuesday, June 5 at 1:30 PM. Location is 575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

On a related note, in June, the Store at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts will feature books by Maya and past poets laureate on display and for sale.

Daniel Ellsburg and Peter Coyote in Conversation
As part of series of events benefitting Literacy Works, Daniel Ellsburg and Peter Coyote will be at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Auditorium on Sunday, June 10, 4:00 p.m. Featured book is The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. When former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a cache of documents related to America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. The Doomsday Machine reveals the contents of those documents and their relevance for today. Look for details about tickets and location in the Literary Update’s June Calendar of Events.

Looking for a Creative Way to Start Your Week? Try Snoopy’s Writers!
You can meet with serious, good-natured writers weekly at Snoopy’s Warm Puppy Café Party Room. The meetings are free and have an “open library-like” creative atmosphere. You can read/discuss your “Work in Progress,” receive honest, unfiltered feedback from writers. Snoopy’s Home Ice Arena, 1667 West Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. The June meetings are June 4, 11, 18 and 25, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. For more information, contact Georgette ggdeb@sonic.net, www.snoopyswriters.com, www.snoopyswriters.blogspot.com.

Phoenix: Out of Silence...And Then,Phoenix: Out of Silence—Poems of the October Firestorms (and more!)
On Saturday, June 16, 2:30–5:30 p.m. Redwood Writers hosts the 2018 Poetry Anthology launch party. Hear authors read their poems published in Phoenix: Out of Silence…And Then and celebrate the launch of the book. Bring your friends and family. Books will be available for $12. For address and RSVP form go to: http://redwoodwriters.org/poetry-anthology-launch-party

David Sedaris Coming to Copperfield’s
On Tuesday, June 26, 7:00 p.m., Copperfield’s presents David Sedaris, author of Calypso, his most deeply personal and hilarious book yet. This is not a ticketed event. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis and all are welcome. Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma. Details on the June Calendar of Events.

 

Poem for June

Goodnight, Great Summer Sky
by Rose Styron

Goodnight, great summer sky
world of my childhood and the star-struck sea.

White chaise from that ancestral southern
porch my raft,
white goose-down quilt my ballast,
under Orion on the green-waved lawn
I float, high—
new moon, old craft
tide strong as ever to the sheer horizon.

Over the seawall, on the dock
Andromeda their strict and jeweled guard
as tall Orion—seas and lawns ago—
chose to be mine,
our children sleep: Alexandra, Tom
under their folded goose-wing sails
true friends in dream,
the folly wrangle of their sibling day
outshone by starlight.

Calm island evening, never-ending sea—
our lovers’ rages, too, are quiet,
drowned.

Miracle of midsummer, the trust of dark
sails us beyond this harbor.

Copyright © 1995 by Rose Styron. “Goodnight, Great Summer Sky” was originally published in By Vineyard Light (Rizzoli International Publications, 1995).

Rose Styron
Rose Styron is the author of four poetry collections: Fierce Day (Friesen Press, 2015), By Vineyard Light (Rizzoli, 1995), Thieves’ Afternoons (Viking, 1973), and From Summer to Summer (Viking, 1965). She has written introductions to Letters to My Father (Lousiana State University Press, 2009), a collection of letters written by her husband, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer William Styron, to his father, and The Selected Letters of William Styron (Random House, 2012), which she edited.

Enjoy the riches of the summer ahead. And don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor

Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2018

May 2018

Congratulations to our New Laureate!

Maya KhoslaOn Sunday, April 29, our brilliant out-going Poet Laureate, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, crowned our new Poet Laureate, Maya Khosla, at an elegant reception at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Maya spoke about her plans for a project combining poetry, film, and her expertise as a naturalist, and she showed a short film with exquisite footage of wildlife regeneration in the aftermath of fire with one of her original poems from her newest collection, Unknown World on Fire.

The SCA and the Poet Laureate Selection Committee were pleased to be able to present Maya with the first Poet Laureate Stipend of $1,000, and to thank Iris for her extended tenure with a gift of $300.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Poet Laureate fund and help support the program, contact Cynthi Stefenoni at cynthi@sebastopolfilm.org

An Announcement and Invitation from Maya
On Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 PM, Maya will be presenting post-fire photographs of the gorgeous recovering areas and reading poetry and presenting her Gold Spot film at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center at 2050 Yulupa Street in Santa Rosa. For details, here’s the link. https://milobaker.cnps.org/index.php/events/general-meetings

Maya will be a regular contributor to the Literary Update. Look for her Poet Laureate’s News page as a monthly feature starting in June. Upcoming in September and October are community readings she’ll be hosting at Pepperwood Preserve.

From Iris Jamahl Dunkle, an Invitation to Young Writers
Thursday, May 3, 3:30-5 p.m. Free writing workshop for pre-teens and teens with Iris Jamahl Dunkle. Teen Authors Program at the Rincon Valley Regional Library 6959 Montecito Blvd, Santa Rosa.

A Sitting Room Conversation with Elizabeth Rosner and Susan Griffin
Survivor Cafe Elizabeth KramerOn Sunday, May 6, 2 to 4 p.m., Sitting Room directors JJ Wilson and Karen Petersen  invite you to join them in welcoming well-known novelists, poets, and essayists Elizabeth Rosner and Susan Griffin. About the event, the directors say, “Non-fiction has been a somewhat neglected genre on our programs and so we are the more delighted to have these two practitioners of that useful and hospitable art visit with us this afternoon.  Elizabeth Rosner’s  2017 Survivor’s Café:  The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory is her first book of non-fiction.  We are fortunate indeed to have her here with her friend Susan Griffin who is a long time friend of The Sitting Room. Susan’s books are everywhere on our shelves, as her A story is told as much by silence as by speech. Susan Griffinsubjects and genres  vary so widely.  For example:  her Tony award winning play, Voices and then the classic study Women and Nature.  On May 3, she has chosen to talk about a book none of us have seen because it is not yet finished!  Its working title is  Strong Man and it is a rare experience to talk with an author about a work in progress.  Susan feels comfortable enough in the Sitting Room to do so. Lucky us.  Please come.  No need for reservations and no fee, of course, and all welcome.  Co-sponsored by the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide.”

The Sitting Room is located at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove, CA 94951. Directions, parking instructions and details about this and other events at www.SittingRoom.org

Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape—Sande Anfang’s New Chapbook
Road Worrier. Sandra AnfangFinishing Line Press has just released Sandra Anfang’s new chapbook, Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape. Most of you know Sandra as the director of the wonderful and always surprising Rivertown Poets at Aqus Café. I hope you’ll consider joining Sandra and me on Monday,  May 7 at 6:15. This will be a special book launch for Sandra, who will perform some improvisational duets with bass player Steve Shain.

This will also be an opportunity for me to share some of my recent translations of Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon, as well as new work from a three-year literary journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy. The reading begins at 6:15. Open mic follows the reading. You can get a lovely meal at Aquus, and if you’d like to join the open mic, be sure to get there to sign up by 5:45.

Celebration of the Life of Penelope La Montagne
Family and friends of Penelope La Montagne will be gathering on Friday, May 11 from 2-5 PM at Villa Chanticleer  in Healdsburg. If you so desire, please bring a favorite pie (sweet or savory) for the Pie Party Table! Penelope LOVED pie and made the most delicious pear pie from her beloved d’anjou pear tree. The location is 900 Chanticleer Way, Healdsburg, CA.

Doriane Laux Reading with Joshua Mensch May 17
Dorianne LauxMarin Poetry Center’s Third Thursdays presents Dorianne Laux, reading from her new and selected poems, Only As the Day is Long, and Joshua Mensch, founding editor of the online literary journal B O D Y, reading from BECAUSE, a lyric memoir. The reading will be at 7:30 PM at Falkirk Center, 1408 Mission St., San Rafael.

Shakespeare Costume Party?! Sounds Like a Hoot!
ShakespeareDress in your finest Shakespearean garb and head down to Copperfield’s Books Sunday, May 20, 2:00 p.m. for a Shakespeare Costume Party with Crispin Clarke, founder of Shakesprints. This Petaluma-based company celebrates Shakespeare by printing beautiful Shakespearean illustrations on all types of materials. At Copperfield’s, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma. 

Poem for May
When I was a kid in Catholic school, we held a May Day coronation of Mary, with our very own May queen and king— more pagan than Christian, I think. We had a May altar decked with flowers. We also left baskets and bouquets of flowers on our neighbors’ doorsteps. When I was a little older, I got to see the European celebration of May Day as International Worker’s Day. And in honor of that tradition, here is a poem about the dignity of work, by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Naomi Shihab NyeLoving Working

     “We clean to give space for Art.”
        Micaela Miranda, Freedom Theatre, Palestine

Work was a shining refuge when wind sank its tooth
into my mind. Everything we love is going away,
drifting – but you could sweep this stretch of floor,
this patio or porch, gather white stones in a bucket,
rake the patch for future planting, mop the counter
with a rag. Lovely wet gray rag, squeeze it hard
it does so much. Clear the yard of blowing bits of plastic.
The glory in the doing. The breath of the doing.
Sometimes the simplest move kept fear from
fragmenting into no energy at all, or sorrow from
multiplying, or sorrow from being the only person
living in the house.

Copyright © by Naomi Shihab Nye

To hear the author reading her poem, use this link:  www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/loving-working

Terry Ehret, Sonoma County Literary Update Co-editor

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