Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2011

December 2011 Update

Sonoma County Literary Update (logo)Dear Literary Folk,

The sun is low on the southern horizon, its windfall light held in the few yellow birch leaves outside my window. Each day this light is slivered a little thinner as we head toward the Winter Solstice. By nightfall, we feel the darkness gathering its mystery and promise.

Our many voices—each a small, but vibrant light—illuminate this darkness and reveal its gifts.

Sonoma County’s Poets Laureate

Gwynn O'Gara

Outgoing poet laureate Gwynn O’Gara was celebrated last Saturday with a gala reception and reading at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. For all she has done to enrich our literary lives during her two years as poet laureate, we are deeply grateful.

I’m pleased to announce that Petaluma native Bill Vartnaw has been named Sonoma County’s seventh poet laureate, and will be honored at 3 p.m.,  Jan. 29 at Santa Rosa Central Library, 3rd and B Streets.

Vartnaw has been writing poetry for more than 35 years. He founded Taurean Horn Press in 1974, and has published 14 books, including his own In Concern: For Angels, in 1984.

Congratulations to Bill!

December Literary Highlights

No need to rush to the stores for this season of giving and receiving; merely step into any one of the many venues where writers and lovers or words are gathering this month. Here are a few I recommend. You can find these and so many more in the December Calendar of Events and on the Workshops page of the Literary Update.

Friday, December 2, 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 8:30 p.m. Petaluma Readers Theatre presents: Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” and music by the Petaluma Choraliers. (Saturday show begins right after the Lighted Boat Parade and Tree-trimming Party in Theatre Square.) Produced by Nancy Long. At Pelican Art Gallery 143 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma. TICKETS: $12 Adults, $5 17 years and under.

Sunday, December 4, 6:00-8:00 p.m. NEW! Poetry Music series created by Geri DiGiorno. Free. Featuring: Jonah Raskin, Timothy Williams, Sarah Baker. At Redwood Cafe, 8240 Redwood Highway Cotati.

Wednesday, December 7, 14, 21, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Writing During the Season of Light: A Spiritual Reflection Workshop led by Iris Jamahl Dunkle Ph.D, MFA, poet, teacher at Sonoma State and UC Santa Cruz. Location Room 5. Sebastopol United Methodist Church, 500 N. Main Street, Sebastopol (across from Safeway). This is a free community writing workshop exploring the themes of the season through writing.  Each week, we will read poems and writing about this time of spiritual reflection and students will participate in writing exercises based on these themes.  For more information, contact Iris at

Sunday, December 11, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Offrendas a las Virgen. Jabez Churchill and Theresa Whitehill invite you to a celebration of Our Lade of Guadalupe with poetry, music, and merriment. Readers include Lorena Calvo-Evans, Terry Ehret, Armando Garcia-Davila, Beatriz Lagos, Marcos Pereda, Fabiola Sandoval, Arthur Sheridan, and Ricardo Stocker. Location: Grace Hudson Museum, 431 South Main Street, Ukiah. For more information, contact Jabez Churchill at

Poem for December

In the Grip of the Solstice

by Marge Piercy

Feels like a train roaring into night,
the journey into fierce cold just beginning.
The ground is newly frozen, the crust
brittle and fancy with striations,
steeples and nipples we break
under our feet.

Every day we are shortchanged a bit more,
night pressing down on the afternoon
throttling it. Wan sunrise later
and later, every day trimmed
like an old candle you beg to give
an hour’s more light.

Feels like hurtling into vast darkness,
the sky itself whistling of space
the black matter between stars
the red shift as the light dies,
warmth a temporary aberration,
entropy as a season.

Our ancestors understood the brute
fear that grips us as the cold
settles around us, closing in.
Light the logs in the fireplace tonight,
light the candles, first one, then two,
the full chanukiya.

Light the fire in the belly.
Eat hot soup, cabbage and beef
borscht, chicken soup, lamb
and barley, stoke the marrow.
Put down the white wine and pour
whiskey instead.

We reach for each other in our bed,
the night vaulted above us
like a cave. Night in the afternoon,
cold frosting the glass so it hurts
to touch it, only flesh still
welcoming to flesh.

“In the Grip of the Solstice” is from Piercy’s collection The Art of Blessing the Day, Knopf Doubleday, 2000.

Blessing to you all,

Terry Ehret, Literary Update Co-Editor

Click on any of these pages from the menu above to view the rest of the December 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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