Posted by: wordrunner | September 2, 2013

September 1, 2013

Dear Literary Folk,

The seasons turn and we’re once more on the threshold of autumn, with its Indian summer days, long afternoons of amber light, the air full of seed puffs, spinning like tiny gods on their many white arms. Scorpio descending, Orion ascending, and that moment yet to come when the light and dark are held in balance.

The end of August arrives, bringing some of us back from travels; some have already started a new semester of classes; some are just now launching themselves on journeys, wisely heading out as the summer tourists return; some are keeping an eye on the vast plumes of smoke and acres of fire burning in the sacred ground of Yosemite; some are celebrating the end of summer at Burning Man in Nevada.

Look Betty, that's where they have the Poetry Walk!Sonoma County Book FestivalIn Sonoma County, autumn has its own traditions. For its eighteenth year, the Petaluma Poetry Walk returns, Sunday the 15th, followed closely on September 21st with Sonoma County Book Festival in a new location—Santa Rosa Junior College’s Bertolini Student Center and Quad, beside Doyle Library. On Sunday, September 22, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Haiku Poets of Northern California gather for their annual Two Autumns Reading. Katherine Hastings opens yet another amazing program at WordTemple, both live readings and on-air interviews.

100 thousand poets for changeFinally, as the month draws to an end, the legacy of the Occupy Movement gives us once again a series of  100 Thousand Poets for Change global movement taking place around the world in over 100 countries. Events will be held locally September 27-29 in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa: a march for peace, a night of music, a dance party, a barbecue. You can check out the details and schedules for all of these events on the Calendar page of this website, or by clicking on these links:

SeamusHeaneySusan SibbetToday, I also want to pay tribute to two poets whose work has touched me and many people very deeply. The first is Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), who passed away on Friday, August 30; the second is Susan Herron Sibbet (1941-2013), poet, novelist, and guiding force behind California Poets in the Schools, who left us Saturday, August 31. They will be making beautiful poetry together as they step over the threshold between body and spirit, and we, who miss them so, can in our own creation of beauty and love “sing them awake.”

In their memories, I offer a poem by each. The first is “Postscript,” written by Seamus Heaney. I first read it standing on the Flaggy Shore in West Ireland where the poem is set. It’s from his 1996 collection The Spirit Level. The second is “Voice,” by Susan Herron Sibbet, the opening poem from her 2004 collection No Easy Light.

Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open


Susan Herron Sibbet

my voice
struggling with light
too light     two lights
these nights
sleeping without

we make our own light
two lights
two voices

this light night
giving voice
voice giving shadow

the voice a shadow
two what the brain
being everywhere
all over the body

voice    light
shadow     voice
still this voice


Terry Ehret

For a pdf version of most of the pages on the Sonoma County Literary Update site (for September 2013), click here.


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