Posted by: wordrunner | June 2, 2016

June 1, 2016

Dear literary folk,

June is the month of weddings, graduations, promotions, retirements, as well as the happy segue into summer. Time to read, relax, attend writing conferences and workshops, dust off that languishing manuscript. And, of course, what would summer be without the annual Sitting Room birthday party?

Sitting Room Birthday Party and a Chance to Ride The Waves

Each year, the Sitting Room invites writers to contribute to their annual publication, which is a collection of poems, stories, and essays on a designated theme. This year, the theme was “ Marriage in Literature and Life.” Part of the birthday celebration is a chance to hear selections from the publication shared in the delightful garden setting. A beautiful cake and other refreshments will be provided.

The birthday celebration is this Sunday, June 5, from 2-5 PM. The Sitting Room is located at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove. If you’re coming, JJ Wilson and Karen Petersen ask that you park in the Church of Christ Church parking lot on the corner of Petaluma Hill Road and Curtis Drive.

The Sitting Room also hosts book discussion groups and writing workshops through the summer. On June 15 the discussion will be on Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. And then on June 25, starting at 9:30 AM, JJ Wilson will lead a day-long program called “How to Read The Waves.” For the full summer schedule and details on the “teasers” here, check the website link:

Off the Page Readers Theater

On Friday, June 3, Off the Page Readers Theater presents its new show, “Lost and Found,” featuring work by eleven local writers: Sandra Anfang, Susan Bono, Robert Feuer, Jodi Hottel, Jo-Anne Rosen, Jeff Savage, Susanna Solomon, Susan Starbird, Michelle Wing, Gor Yaswen, and Amanda Yskamp. At Mockingbird Books, 6932 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol. $10 at the door. Additional performances on June 10 in Sebastapol and June 11 in Cotati. See our calendar listings and Facebook page: Off the Page Readers Theater

June Featured Writer: Marlene Cullen

Last month, Jo-Anne and I included in our monthly post a book review of Iris Dunkle, our new poet laureate’s, recent publication. We don’t have a book review page, though the idea is intriguing. This prompted an e-mail from Marlene Cullen, letting us know that she has a column for book reviews on The Write Spot Blog. She says she is always looking for book reviews: “I’m not looking for summaries, rather why the person liked the book,” Marlene says. For more information, check out Marlene’s website at

Marlene was instrumental in getting the Sonoma County Literary Update launched, back in the early days of my term as poet laureate, and I’m always grateful for her ongoing contributions to our literary community.

Cullen-MarleneFor those of you who don’t know Marlene, here’s a snippet from her Wikipedia entry:

Marlene Cullen is a writing workshop facilitator, writing coach, editor and producer of Writers Forum, a monthly literary program. She is a writer of short stories, memoir, poetry and creative non-fiction. Her writing workshops provide essential elements for successful writing. Fulfilling her passion for writing and sharing with others, she has created unique writing environments such as Jumpstart, Writing and Art Collage Workshops and Revision Workshops, where participants often experience transformational changes. Marlene has led workshop discussions, edited anthologies, and has worked as conference supervisor.

Lend Poetry Flash a Hand

I’m not sure you know about Poetry Flash’s Kickstarter campaign, which was organized to overhaul the custom-built software supporting the website. If you can help out, any donation will be much appreciated by Joyce Jenkins, Richard Silberg, and all the dedicated staff and volunteers who keep the Flash flashing.

Here’s the Kickstarter link:

And if you haven’t visited the Poetry Flash website in a while, it’s definitely worth a look:

Northern California Book Awards

Top of the news you’ll find there are the winners of this year’s Northern California Book Awards. Essayist, novelist, poet, and playwright Susan Griffin received this year’s Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement Often called an eco-feminist author, her time spent as a child in the High Sierras and along the coast of the Pacific Ocean shaped her awareness of the earth and ecology. Here are the winners in other categories:

NCBR Recognition Award
California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Poetry, Prints, and History, Tom Killion with Gary Snyder, Heyday

NCBR Groundbreaker Award
The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War, William T. Vollmann, Viking

All This Life, Joshua Mohr, Soft Skull Press

General Nonfiction
The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, David Talbot, Harper

Creative Nonfiction
Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, Jane Hirshfield, Alfred A. Knopf

Times Beach, John Shoptaw, University of Notre Dame Press

Translation in Fiction
The Complete Stories, Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson, New Directions

Translation in Poetry
Marie de France, Marie de France, translated and edited from the Medieval French by Dorothy Gilbert, Norton Critical Editions

Children’s Literature, Younger Readers
In a Village By the Sea, Muon Van, illustrator April Chu, Creston Books

Children’s Literature, Older Readers
Delicate Monsters, Stephanie Kuehn, St. Martin’s Griffin

Translation Project Resumes!

translation-project-EhretMany of you know that Nancy Morales, John Johnson and I have been translating the poems of Mexican poet Ulalume Gonzales de Leon for about two years. We have presented our collaborative work at the Petaluma Poetry Walk, the Petaluma Arts Center, and the Sitting Room, so some of you have heard us read her enigmatic, playful poetry—her aerial dance of words. Last October, it looked as if we’d lost the translation rights, which set us back in our bid for translation grants, as well as our ongoing publications in journals and online.


Foto: Rodulfo Gea

But, miracle of miracles, Ulalume’s daughter contacted us, and last Saturday, we met her and her brother, along with other family members at Nicholson Ranch Winery. The winery’s owner, Deepak Gulrajani, graciously hosted the meeting. With the family’s support and enthusiasm, we’re back on the project! For the three of us, this is a dream come true. We look forward to bringing her poetry, short stories, and essays to you in a bilingual editions in the years ahead.


Poem for June

Richard WilburI’m fond of sonnets and the extraordinary variations poets can bring to this traditional 14-line poetic form. Here’s on I recently discovered, by the great Richard Wilbur.

Born in New York City in 1921, Richard Wilbur is the author of numerous books of poetry and the recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award.

June Light

Your voice, with clear location of June days,
Called me outside the window. You were there,
Light yet composed, as in the just soft stare
Of uncontested summer all things raise
Plainly their seeming into seamless air.

Then your love looked as simple and entire
As that picked pear you tossed me, and your face
As legible as pearskin’s fleck and trace,
Which promise always wine, by mottled fire
More fatal fleshed than ever human grace.

And your gay gift—Oh when I saw it fall
Into my hands, through all that naïve light,
It seemed as blessed with truth and new delight
As must have been the first great gift of all.


Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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