Posted by: wordrunner | July 1, 2016

July 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

Coming Soon Trump Circle in HellIn the past weeks, we’ve lost so many in Orlando, Instanbul, and in places that aren’t highlighted in the headlines. We’ve watched Trump step up as the Republican’s presumptive nominee (God help us!), and the Democrats sitting down in protest on the floor of the House as the NRA continues to dictate our political agenda in Washington.

Now may seem a good time to bring a vision of political consciousness and vigilant witness to what we write. To explore this, I plan to offer a workshop on Mondays this fall at the Sitting Room in Cotati, focusing on political poetry. By studying poems by Shelley, Yeats, Akhmatova, Levertov, Rich, and more, we’ll try to figure out how to speak our truth in a way that isn’t rhetorical and didactic—a difficult needle to thread.

And on Fridays, we’ll continue our study of one of the world’s great political poems, La Divina Comedia of Dante, moving from Inferno to Purgatorio. Sign-ups for both will open later this month, but you can contact me at, if you’d like to get on the e-mail list.

Remembering Adelle Foley

AdelleFoleyTop of my news this month is the recent passing of Adelle Foley on June 27. Adelle was a poet, a social, neighborhood and arts activist, and, for the past twenty years, a member of the administration of AC Transit. She was half of a performance-poetry team, along with her husband Jack Foley; together they performed duets of Jack’s poems and Adelle’s haiku.

In 1989, she began to write poetry. Her chosen form was haiku, which she wrote in the traditional 5-7-5 syllables. One of her most memorable, “Learning to Shave: Father Teaching Son,” concerned her son, Sean, born in 1974: “A nick on the jaw / The razor’s edge of manhood / Along the bloodline.” Her books include Along the Bloodline and Fennel in the Rain—a collaboration with Jack. A final collection is forthcoming in 2016. Beat poet Michael McClure wrote, “Adelle Foley’s haikus show us humanity. Their vitality and imagination shine from her compassion; from seeing things as they truly are.”

In the eighties and nineties, I was experimenting with composing and performing poems for multiple voices, along with creative partners Susan Sibbet and Steve Gilmartin. This is how I came to know Adele and Jack. Adelle’s warmth, humor, and engaging smile made us feel like fellow conspirators in the art of the collaborative poem, and I will always be grateful for her inspiration.

Missing Gor Yaswen

gor-yaswenMany of you know that our literary community lost Gor Yaswen in March, and may have participated in the tributes to his life an work at Gaia’s Garden, where he had read just days before his death, at a memorial held in May in Petaluma, and most recently at Off the Page Readers Theater, where one of his poems was performed.

Gor died in a motorcycle crash on March 2 at the age of 78. “He was a poet, writer, artist, teacher, dancer, and lover of nature’s beauty. His prolific art reflected a deep study of his own life, unique vision of Spirit in nature and among people, and hopes for human possibility. RenewalHe leaves a multi-faceted community of writers, performers, students, and friends, who mourn the loss of his singular presence.”

I knew Gor initially from his monthly notices in the Literary Update. Later, I realized that he and I were colleagues at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was an adjunct faculty member in the college’s Industrial and Trade Technology Program, and where we worked on union issues for adjuncts. He published many books and chapbooks over the years. You can find a sample of Gor’s prose, poems and drawings, at his blog: His art is available on

Some Highlights of Our July Events

In “Mining Metaphors,” you can explore the physical and psychological experience of writer’s block and other body-related metaphors in a writing and movement workshop facilitated by local writer and educator Sharon Bard. This will take place on Saturday, July 9, 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m., at The Sitting Room, 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove. Details on Workshops page.

Founder of Rivertown Poets, Sande Anfang is celebrating the publication of Looking Glass Heart at Aqus Cafe in Petaluma. Tuesday, July 12, 6:15 p.m. Sande will be reading from her book, along with Poet Laureate Emeritus Bill Vartnaw. Location: 189 H Street in downtown Petaluma. Details:

Two workshops explore the intersection of writing, psychology, character, and symbols. The first is on Saturday July 16, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.: A Study of Character Through the Enneagram of Personality for Writers & NonWriters with Clara Rosemarda.. See Workshops page for more details. The second is on Saturday, July 23, 9:00 a.m. -4:30 p.m. “Women Writing around the Medicine Wheel” with author & writing guide Susan Hagen. This is the first of a four-part series exploring the south/summer/child within us all. For more information, check out the website at

I’m heading off for a couple of weeks in the mountains where I’ll be out of cell phone and Internet access. Alas, I won’t be here to enjoy many of the July literary events. But I will leave you with a poem for the summer by Gor Yaswen.

Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


by Gor Yaswen

This is what is,
for the artists
in greatest numbers:
we work on “air”,
as angels do,
and air must sustain us.
More fine than that;
we labor on
the very matrix
air but fills.
What we do
is invisible to most,
and unprovable to any.
We perform works
with no rewards
of outer nature;
go unthanked by those
whose “air” we charge
and are treated
as the angels;
un-seen nor believed.
Our lives may seem shambles,
as we shift about
in constant struggle
to maintain ourselves,
but once-a-while
we’re transcendent;
loft from the labor
of our living
toward Enormity,
and are brought back
with nothing won,
but all changed,
and as we thus dance
upon the horizon
of hills which confine
usual living,
we sometimes strike
noble silhouettes
of inspiration to others
against the fervent flush
of an awesome sky,
and cause some
to look up,
where they can see it:
this “air” we’ve altered.


%d bloggers like this: