Posted by: wordrunner | February 1, 2013

February 1, 2013

Dear Literary Folk,

Today, February 1, marks the first day of spring in the Celtic calendar. I’ve always considered February the start of spring here in Sonoma County, and I note the transition with the first croaking frogs in Thompson Creek behind my house. The Celtic calendar seems to fit our California seasons, but with the gradually rising temperatures on planet earth, and our winter season shrinking to just a few weeks, I wonder how we will fare without the regenerative retreat of winter’s fallow time.

brigids-dayBut clearly spring is upon us. The first blossoms on the flowering plums are drawing the bees from their hives. February 1st is also the feast of St. Brigid, formerly Bridhe, goddess of Imbolc. Pictured here is the traditional Brigid’s cross, and a beautiful sculpture from Brigid’s Garden, outside Galway, Ireland. Bridhe represents the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring. She represents the Irish aspect of divine femininity in her role as goddess of smiths, fire, and poetry.

Appropriately, then, St. Brigid’s Day will be celebrated on Friday, February 1 with a poetry reading at Gaia’s Garden Restaurant, 1899 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa. The program begins at 7:30 with music by Marilyn O’Malley. Poets Joan Brady, Donna Emerson, Tom Mariani, Bill Vartnaw, Colleen Werner, Jim Fitch, Dusty Wroten, Phyllis Meshulam, and Pierrette Mimi Poinsett  will read till10:00 PM. This event is part of the ongoing One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change readings, organized and hosted by Susan Lamont.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, on Saturday, February 9th, Clara Rosemarda is offering a one-day creative writing workshop at Santa Rosa Junior College called “Writing with a Passionate Presence.” Details about cost and registration are on the calendar page.

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, 2013 both online and through regular mail. All other submission guidelines still apply. Please see complete guidelines at www.sixteenrivers.org/wordpress/submit-work.

February also brings the annual Poetry Out Loud competition. This year’s event will be on Sunday, February 10 at 7 PM at the Jane Glazer Center in Santa Rosa. If you’ve never attended, treat yourself to an evening of great poetry recited from memory by some of the most talented youth in the county. You can find details about this year’s program on the calendar page of the Literary Update.

On that same day, February 10, at 1:30 in the afternoon, the Healdsburg Literary Guild presents the winning poets of the open call for love poems reading their poems at the annual Poetry Valentine, at the Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Avenue. You could start your day with love poetry and chocolate, and finish it with the wonderful recitals at Poetry Out Loud.

And speaking of poetry recitations, on Sunday, February 17, the Third Sunday Salon features Larry Robinson. The well-known Sonoma County poetry disseminator tell us of his abiding obsession to restore the oral tradition of poetry, host occasional poetry salons where the only rule is “no reading,” and who offers a daily poem via e-mail to anyone who is interested. This event is also at the Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Avenue.

There is much to enjoy, much to inspire in the month ahead. I close with a poem for the season, by Carolyn Miller, one which goes out to those joined and those alone in this season of new life and eros, sacred to Brigid and to Venus.

Terry Ehret, co-editor

Celibacy

The early-flowering plum trees have lost
most of their blossoms; a few ragged ones hang on,
overwhelmed by new leaves.
I’m always surprised by this stage of spring, when
the young, bright leaves overtake the blossoms with
a kind of violence, with nature’s obsession to endure,
loving, as it does, the idea of the individual,
but not the individual.
After a long dry spell
it rains for days, and the streams cannot contain
themselves. It must be like being touched and entered
after a long time of not being touched and entered,
like feeling semen leaking from your body;
it must be like love spilling over, love and need.
The smell of potted hyacinths fills my flat:
that mix of rot and sexuality and longing.
Their meaty little trumpets announce
the change of seasons. My body changes
and grows old. Sex seems like another country,
one I have lost the way to, although sometimes
when I see the faces of certain men, I have the quick
sense of a door that could be opened
into new rooms. What does it mean to have a self,
the sense of self? These collections
of accommodations to the world, our baggage of wants
and compromises and unforgiving dreams? I try
to let my borders go, to let go of my self and feel
the endless, rocking ocean in which we swim,
but I am caught in a small pool of afternoon
and rotting hyacinths.
On television I see the surface of Venus,
brought into my room across millions of black miles.
It is flexible and burning, glowing red-orange waves
striated with light, undulating, pulsing
like the walls of the birth canal,
an ocean all of fire. In that molten place there are no selves
to look back at us, divided here: blue and green,
land and water, drought and flood, joined
and alone.

From Light, Moving, by Carolyn Miller, Sixteen Rivers Press, 2009.

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