Posted by: wordrunner | August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

Dear Literary Folk,

Sunday, August 3, two wonderful literary events occur back-to-back. You could attend both, traffic allowing. From noon to 4 PM is the annual Poets’ Picnic in Benicia Park. Juanita J. Martin will host this event with readings by local poets laureate. The location is the gazebo area of the park on Military/First Street in Benicia.

The second event takes place Sunday evening: Redwood Café’s First Sunday Poetry and Music Series, hosted by Geri Digiorno. You’ll have a chance to hear Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, Al Young with vocalist and pianist Sarah Baker and bass player Jan Martinelli. The performances begin at 5 PM, 8240 Old Redwood Hwy in Cotati.

Joseph MillarGeri DiGiorno and Al YoungSarah BakerDorianne Laux





Then on Monday, August 4, Rivertown Poets at Aqus Café will offer an evening with Giovanni singleton and Roy Mash. Listeners and poets are invited to attend the free event and bring a poem or two to share during the open mic. Open mic signups will begin at 6:30. The café is open for food and beverages. It is located at 189 H Street in downtown Petaluma.

I featured this series briefly in last month’s post, but since then I’ve had the pleasure of attending. What a great series and venue! The combination of featured readers and open mic create a delightful sampler of local writers and their work. In fact, the open mic in July included several young poets who were absolutely terrific. I hope some of the younger writers in the county will consider coming down to Aqus on Monday and making the Rivertown Poets part of their regular circuit.

Sandra Alfang, the series director and emcee, prepared this featurette to aquaint Literary Update readers with the series.

Rivertown Poets
aqus-cafeRivertown Poets is a monthly poetry series held on the first Monday of each month at the Aqus Café, 189 H Street in Petaluma. Each reading showcases the work of two feature poets, and is followed by an open mic. Host Sandra Anfang started the series in June of 2013. She aims to create an ambiance where seasoned poets mingle with new or little-known writers to celebrate the spoken word. Her goals are to create a space of safety and acceptance for new and experienced poets and their work, and to introduce listeners to the many dimensions of the poetic genre. Occasionally, there is musical accompaniment to the poetry. The series is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sandra at or (650) 888-7875.

Sandra Anfang is a teacher, poet and visual artist who recently moved to Sonoma County. She is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks: Crown of Thorns, Promptly, String Theory, and Dreaming of Inertia. Sandra has been published several times online in The Shine Journal, and has two poems in the current edition of Poetalk. She has featured at Bird and Beckett, Florey’s Book (Pacifica), and the Aqus Café in Petaluma.

Get Lit in Petaluma!
Join hosts Dani Burlison and Kara Vernor on the 4th Wednesday of every month for the Get Lit reading series at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Petaluma. On August 27 the featured readers are Daniel Coshnear, Stefanie Freele and Lily Mazzarella.

Tribute to Don MacQueen
Don MacQueenColleague, poet, editor, publisher Brian Boldt wrote me last month about the passing of Don MacQueen.

Don was a central part of Sonoma County’s literary scene in the ’80s and ’90s, helping with the Russian River Writers’ Guild with Marianne Ware and others. It offered a lively reading series, quarterly newsletters, and occasional poetry collections, notably A Stone’s Throw, a major anthology of local poets of the day.

Don McQueen as ShakespeareDon also helped edit Rich Benbrook’s feisty quarterly “The Tomcat,” worked as an editor with Susan Bono’s “Tiny Lights,” and helped with Brian Boldt’s “Green Fuse.” His terse, witty poetry appeared in virtually every local publication in those days.

Don MacQueen, 88, died in June in Eugene, Oregon, at his daughter’s home, on his terms, exactly the way he lived his life. His family said that his last, whispered words were to a hospice worker, who assured him that everything was taken care of and all right now. Don’s reply: “Really, what about Iraq?” We certainly shall not look upon his like again.

—Brian Boldt

I spent ten days in July in the High Sierras where the combination of tinder-dry landscape and lightning storms has already launched several fires. I’ve been featuring poems, essays, and anecdotes by Sonoma County writers on the drought. This month Arlene Mandell sent in her poem, “In the Third Summer of the Drought.” Along with that, I am including Robinson Jeffers’s “Fire on the Hills.”

Please send me your thoughts on the drought. Photos and artwork, too!


In the Third Summer of the Drought

Deep in our woods, deer, rabbits
bobcats prowl in dry creek beds
rattlesnakes slither

while we take shorter showers
grumble over shriveled plantings
cringe at the horrific world news

then wake to another tranquil
August morning.

—Arlene Mandell


Fire On The Hills

The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front of the roaring wave of the brushfire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned
Down the black slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue and the hills merciless black,
The somber-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

—Robinson Jeffers


Congratulations to this month’s newly published authors in Sonoma County. See who’s in print at

Terry Ehret, co-Editor
Sonoma County Literary Update


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