Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2016

November 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

day-of-deadAs I write, the candles in the jack-o-lanterns are sputtering out and a soft drizzle is falling in the dark. Here in Petaluma, the Halloween action is on D Street, so not too many trick-or-treaters at the door. The rain kept many indoors as well. Here in P-town, as in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and other county venues, we’re also celebrating Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 1 and 2.

Congratulations to Bob Dylan!
bobdylanIn October, we were all surprised, some happily so, to learn that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Controversial as that decision was, I’m delighted that the award recognizes the common root of poetry and music, and the powerful transformative effect Dylan’s music has had on a generation and more.
One summer, I visited both Swansea, Wales and in Hibbing, Minnesota: childhood homes of Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan, respectively. Bob Dylan, of course, changed his name from Bobby Zimmerman—a fact I trot out only by way of introducing this month’s poem by Diane Sher Lutovich, called “Dancing at Bobby Zimmerman’s Bar Mitzvah.” Scroll down, and you’ll find this at the end of this month’s post.

Healdsburg’s new Literary Laureate
On Saturday, October 22, the Healdsburg Literary Guild hosted a Night of Laureate Candidate Readings to select a new Healdsburg Literary Laureate. Four candidates vied for the honor of representing the community from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2018. The authors were Russ Messing, Richard Perce, Ken Dalton, and Arte Whyte. Congratulations to Russ Messing, farmer and owner of Deergnaw Olive Oil. Messing, an evocative poet, has published two volumes of poetry.

Interested in Joining or Starting a Writers’ Group?
Just the other day, someone asked about starting a writers’ group in the county, wondering if there was a way to announce this. Indeed, there is. The Literary Update has a page devoted to writing groups of all sorts, but it hasn’t been updated lately, and so may not have caught your notice. I’m thinking this would be a good time to do so.  If you are looking for a group, or would like to invite others in the literary community to join your writers’ group or network, Check out our Writers’ Connection Page and send us an announcement to If you’d like to help us revise and update this page, send us an e-mail, and we’ll be happy to work with you!

Rivertown Poets
Lucille Lang Day. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013). Taken Dec 20, 2013.

I’m always happy to plug the Rivertown Poets series at Aqus Café on the first Monday of the month. The November 7th reading features Lucille Lang Day and Casey Fitzsimmons. Each monthly reading includes a very lively open mic. Try to come a little earlier–the open mic list fills early. Signups start at 5:45 p.m. The café is open for food and beverages at 189 H Street in downtown Petaluma. Check the Calendar page for details, or Contact: Sande Anfang,
Lucille Lang Day. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2013)

November is “National Novel Writing Month”
Snoopy’s Writers Presents…”NaNoWriMo Write In” Every Monday in November from 1:00-4:00 pm in the Party Room and Tuesdays thru Sundays 9 am – 5 pm in the Cafe. The Warm Puppy Cafe, Snoopy’s Home Ice, 1667 West Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. Write a 50,000 word Novel in 30 days. Midnight Oct 31 to Midnight Nov 30. ATMOSPHERE – Pleasant, Creative, stimulating, good food, coffee, Friendly Service. WRITERS – Beginner, Advanced, Published Author. Bring computer, pens and notebooks. BYOL – Buy your own lunch. Georgette or Dawn


West Sonoma Book Faire
Do you miss the great years of the Sonoma County Book Festival? Well, Sonoma County is having a book fair again. The first annual West Sonoma Book Faire takes place on November 10, 6:00-9:00 p.m., at the Sebastopol Grange, 6000 Sebastopol Ave. (Hwy 12). Free admission. There will be author’s booths, a poet’s table, readings, a raffle to support the  Sonoma County Library Foundation, food & drink bar, and more.

Upcoming  Healdsburg Literary Guild Readings
jeanhegland-smallAuthor Jean Hegland will be in conversation with Ray Holley… Jean’s latest book is Still Time and her novel Into the Forest was asdapted as a film starring Ellen Page that was in theaters in summer 2016 and was released recently on DVD in October 2016. Wines by Bluenose Wines will be featured following the talk. The event will be at SHED on November 10th, 2016 at 7 pm. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Jean, a local and world-renowned author. Get tickets ($15) online at:

The Poetry of Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon
For those of you in the north county who’ve been following the translation project I’ve been working on with John Johnson and Nancy Morales, I’m pleased to announce that the three of us will be presenting our translations of the Mexican poet Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon. The Healdburg Literary Guild will graciously host this reading on Sunday, November 20, at 1:30 at the Bean Affair in downtown Healdsburg, 1270 Healdsburg Avenue. This event is free!

Poem for November

Dancing at Bobby Zimmerman’s Bar Mitzvah
dianelutovichbiophoto-1by Diane Sher Lutovich

What were they thinking
those children in 1954; he,
the blue-eyed son wrapped in
a wrinkled tallis, his yarmulke levitating
on that huge head of curls; the blue-eyed
girl tripping in new high heels,
back and shoulders bare
as an invitation.
Evening shone tender, blue
from inside, lighting up the town
as if the sun had refused to fully set.
The Androy Hotel, perched between
ore dumps and open pit mines, on Hibbing’s
one main street, its Crystal Lounge
Awash with his aunts, uncles—Irenes,
Slyvias, Labels, Mikeys—all congratulating,
guzzling champagne, wrapping their dreams
around the bar mitzvah boy,
all to the beat
of sambas and rumbas
imported from Duluth;
chandeliers reflecting
light in a hundred directions
rousing people who’d been hibernating
for years. His mother beamed
over her blue-eyed boy who’d go far–
medical or law school she predicted.
He looked dazed or
ashamed, kept his feet shuffling, fingers tapping,
eager to leave for somewhere else
I, too, couldn’t wait for those big-city lights,
attentive boys who knew how to dance, kiss.
No one would have guessed
how far we’d run after
the champagne was gone,
the guests coerced to their cars, homes,
and we had licenses of our own. But it was as far
From Hibbing—its open pit mines, its mounds
of red topsoil, winters of icy caves, and
summer nights sweet and fragrant as forget-me-nots–
as we could.

from What I Stole, by Diane Sher Lutovich, Sixteen Rivers Press, 2013.

Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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