Posted by: wordrunner | January 2, 2016

January 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

As we begin another year together, Jo-Anne Rosen, co-editor, and I wish you a happy, healthy, creative 2016, and we invite you to consider the Literary Update as your vehicle for promoting the shared literary life in your circle and beyond.

We’d especially like to encourage short features by our readers, highlighting the groups or events you know of. Just send a short article (150 words or so) and a photo, if you have a relevant one, to the SoCo Literary Update by the end of each calendar month. Use the key word “featurette” in the subject line.

Do you have a new book coming out this year? Let us help you celebrate! Your publication will be included on the Sonoma County in Print page of the website. While you’re at it, you can add yourself to our growing directory of writers. You can send a short bio, photo, a description of the book and an image of the cover to us at

If you have a publication in a literary journal or anthology (within the last 30 days) you’d like to announce, send the following information to Ed Coletti at Your name, title of the piece, name of the journal and date of publication (issue/volume), link to journal’s or publisher’s website (if available). This list of journal publications will be posted monthly and archived. Ed would appreciate receiving submissions prior to the final week of the month.

Thank you to Katherine Hastings!
Katherine HastingsFor two years, our literary community has been very fortunate to have poet, publisher, and WordTemple’s founding director Katherine Hastings leading us in her role as Sonoma County Poet Laureate. Her project “Digging Our Poetic Roots” culminated in the publication of a wonderful anthology of poems featuring writers across the county and across generations. We thank Katherine for her continued and profound inspiration, and for her dedication to bringing poetry to life through her reading series, her radio interviews and broadcasts, her support of fellow writers, and most of all for the lyrical vision of her poetry.

We honor all past Poets Laureates, along with this year’s nominees and finalists for their achievements and for their commitment to the literary arts in the county.

Poet Laureate Selection for 2016-17
In October, Katherine joined the Sonoma County Poet Laureate Selection Committee to consider nominees for the new SCPL for 2016-17. The Committee narrowed the field to five outstanding finalists: Ed Coletti, Nancy Dougherty, Iris Dunkle, Crystal Ockenfuss, and Larry Robinson. As you can imagine, with such a talented group, the selection was very difficult.

Iris Dunkle

Congratulations to our newest Poet Laureate, Iris Dunkle! Some of you are familiar with Iris’s book discussions and writing workshops at Jack London State Historic Park. Others may know her from her work with young writers as a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools and the Poetry Out Loud Program. Or you may know her through the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference and her many public reading throughout the county. Iris’s latest poetry book, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, about the untold history of Sonoma County, comes out this month. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, won the 2012 Trio Award, and her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013.

Iris gave her first unofficial reading in her new role at the New Year’s Poetry Brunch my husband and I host each year at our home in Petaluma. She will be formally introduced, first at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, and then at a gala reception and reading, to which you are all invited.

Please join us in honoring Iris on Sunday, January 31, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.

Upcoming January Literary Events
For a complete list of January events, along with a peek at February listings, visit the calendar page: Here are a few to whet your appetite.

Rivertown Poets: A Muse-ing presents Bay Area poets Peter Carroll and former Sonoma County Poet Laureate Gwynn O’Gara, followed by our usual open mic. The reading is on Monday, January 4, 6:30 p.m. Details:

The Sitting Room in Cotati hosts a Read Aloud Evening on Saturday, January 9 at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove. Join the Roberts Road Readers for a pot luck and evening of shared literary favorites. Bring up to ten minutes of your own writing, others’ writing, fiction or non-fiction, serious or humorous. Questions? E-mail Clarice Stasz:

Off the Page Readers Theater presents “Turning Points.” 10 local writers’ works: short plays, stories and poems that connect to the theme. Featuring: Sandra Anfang, Sheila Bender, Susan Bono, Sher Christian, Robert Feuer, Craig Harris, Lynn Millar,Susanna Solomon, Susan Starbird, Michelle Wing. The performance-readings begin at 7:30 PM and will be held two consecutive weekends: January 22 and 23 (at Mockingbird Books, Sebastapol) and again on January 29 and 30 (Church of the Oaks, Cotati). See facebook: Off the Page Readers Theater for more info.

Poem for January
LongfellowFor the new year, I offer this beautiful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, composed in Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet form. Longfellow lived from 1807-1882. “He was a traveler, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with the great traditions of European literature and thought. At the same time, he was rooted in American life and history, which charged his imagination with untried themes and made him ambitious for success.” For more information, on his life and work, visit the website of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow project:


The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;— a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

Blessings and New Year’s Wishes,
Terry Ehret and Jo-Anne Rosen, co-editors


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