Posted by: literaryfolk | August 1, 2011

Literary Update for August 1, 2011

Dear Literary Folk,

August, in Celtic tradition, begins with a celebration of the sun god, Lugh, called Lughnasadh, a favored time for handfastings— trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.

Now, I don’t know how the debt-ceiling debate will be settled, but chances are our politicians in Washington will come up with an eleventh-hour fiscal equivalent of handfasting.

I’ve recently returned from leading a two-week literary tour and writing retreat in West Ireland with some local writers. We had a “grand and snug time,” as one of them put it. (If you’d like to know more, check the website: I then spent a week in Prague in the Czech Republic where music, art, and poetry are celebrated in every way, though it hasn’t always been so. The political leaders of Praha have a centuries-old tradition of defenestration—literally tossing their opponents out of high windows. In the event our legislators fail to achieve any handfasting agreement in the Celtic fashion, they might resort to the window-tossing option. Or we will.

Whatever the outcome, it’s clear we need to stay awake and vigilant in these days when so much of our social network has already been dismantled. And we need to write and speak our truth. During the 40 years the people of the Czech Republic endured two oppressive regimes, their poets, writers, and artists kept the embers of truth alive. When the winds shifted in 1989, these embers caught fire and ignited a dramatic and peaceful revolution. With virtual communities like this Literary Update, we have a vital way to stay connected and to make our voices heard. Keep writing! Keep supporting each other!

August Poem

Each month, we include a poem in our post. Here’s one that seems to speak to our somewhat bitter summer season: Derek Walcott’s “Dark August.”

Dark August

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky

of this black August. My sister, the sun,

broods in her yellow room and won’t come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume

like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,

she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,

my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls

like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.

Don’t you know I love you but am hopeless

at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,

the air with gossiping mosquitoes,

and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,

parting the beads of the rain,

with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all will not be as it was, but it will be true

(you see they will not let me love

as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,

The black rain, the white hills, when once

I loved only my happiness and you.

Nominations for Sonoma County Poet Laureate

Our county’s poet laureate, Gwynne O’Gara, as well as those who have served before her, has done so much to nourish our community. I hope you’ll check out her Poet Laureate’s News page, where you’ll see her call for poems by Sonoma County residents. The deadline is September 30, 2011. From those she receives, she’ll choose three poets to read with her later this fall.

Believe it or not, it’s time once again to consider nominations for the 2012-2014 poet laureate. If you are interested in the nomination process or in serving on the Poet Laureate Selection Committee, contact Linda Galletta at Sebastopol Center for the Arts:

Poetry Flash’s New Website

On June 28, 2011, Poetry Flash launched a new website

( to be published online in monthly issues. The July 2011 issue features a sparkling new design, a more easily navigated event calendar for California and beyond, Some Information Blog Posts, Calls for Submissions, Archives, and info about Poetry Flash programs. For details, check the County News page.

Here are some of the literary highlights for August I hope you’ll be able to attend:

August 6, Saturday, noon to 4:00 p.m. Poets’ Picnic. Location: Benicia First Street Park with Gazebo Corner of Military and First Street. For details, check the Calendar page.

Thursday, August 18, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Writers Forum of Petaluma presenters Belva Davis and Vicki Haddock: The Semi-Reluctant Memoirist. Legendary TV news anchor Belva Davis and journalist Vicki Haddock share the inside story of their collaboration to produce the acclaimed memoir Never In My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. See Workshop page for details.

Saturday, August 20, 5:30-9:30 PM: CONFLUX: An evening of poetry and music to celebrate the opening of Gallery V: Contemporary Art in Valley Ford. Visual artist and poet Centa Theresa reads with Patrice Warrender and Terry Ehret, along with cellist Sebastion Plano and vocalist Caitlin Moe. Location: 14875 Valley Ford. Estero Rd., Valley Ford, CA. 94972. For details, visit the Gallery V website.

Sunday, August 21, 2:00-5:00 p.m. “The Sensual M.F.K. Fisher,” a fundraiser benefitting the Sonoma County Book Festival. Biographer Anne Zimmerman of San Francisco comes to Mimi Luebbermann’s Windrush Farm in Petaluma to share the most colorful years and personal stories behind some of M.F.K. Fisher’s beloved gastronomical writings. For tickets or information, check the Calendar page.

And finally, I have some personal announcements to share:

Kelly’s Cove Press

I pleased to announce the launch of a new publishing company, Kelly’s Cove Press, founded by Bart Schneider and dedicated to new work and classic reprints of California writers and artists. Books in the initial series are Kenneth Patchen 1911-1972: A Centennial Selection; Civil War Stories,by Ambrose Bierce, illustrated with paintings by Chester Arnold; The Best of the Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce; What Lures the Foxes, by Mike Tuggle; Morning Opera, by Bart Schneider, and my own new collection, Night Sky Journey. Books may be ordered through the website, (live September 2011), or by calling 510-338-3480.

Eavan Boland Reads for Sixteen Rivers Press

Sixteen Rivers Press will be hosting a benefit reading featuring Irish poet Eavan Boland. The date is Saturday evening, October 22. For more information or to request an invitation, contact Sixteen Rivers at

Sitting Room Prosody Workshops for Fall 2011

I will again be offering two eight-week Prosody Workshops in the fall of 2011. These will be held on Mondays and Fridays, 9 AM to noon starting the week of September 26. For details, check the See Workshop page or visit my website at and click on the workshops link.

Terry Ehret

Literary Update Co-Editor

Click on any of these pages from the menu above to view the rest of the August Literary Update:

Monthly Calendar of Events
County-Wide News (Including News from East, West, and North County)
Poet Laureate’s News
Sonoma County in Print
Local Workshop Teachers and Writing Consultants
Current and Upcoming Workshops
Writers’ Connections
Ongoing Writing Groups and Open Mic Readings
Calls for Submission
Recommended Northern California Journals and Presses
Directory of Sonoma County Writers
How to Send Announcements to the Literary Update
About the Literary Update


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