Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2018

May 2018

Congratulations to our New Laureate!

Maya KhoslaOn Sunday, April 29, our brilliant out-going Poet Laureate, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, crowned our new Poet Laureate, Maya Khosla, at an elegant reception at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Maya spoke about her plans for a project combining poetry, film, and her expertise as a naturalist, and she showed a short film with exquisite footage of wildlife regeneration in the aftermath of fire with one of her original poems from her newest collection, Unknown World on Fire.

The SCA and the Poet Laureate Selection Committee were pleased to be able to present Maya with the first Poet Laureate Stipend of $1,000, and to thank Iris for her extended tenure with a gift of $300.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Poet Laureate fund and help support the program, contact Cynthi Stefenoni at

An Announcement and Invitation from Maya
On Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 PM, Maya will be presenting post-fire photographs of the gorgeous recovering areas and reading poetry and presenting her Gold Spot film at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center at 2050 Yulupa Street in Santa Rosa. For details, here’s the link.

Maya will be a regular contributor to the Literary Update. Look for her Poet Laureate’s News page as a monthly feature starting in June. Upcoming in September and October are community readings she’ll be hosting at Pepperwood Preserve.

From Iris Jamahl Dunkle, an Invitation to Young Writers
Thursday, May 3, 3:30-5 p.m. Free writing workshop for pre-teens and teens with Iris Jamahl Dunkle. Teen Authors Program at the Rincon Valley Regional Library 6959 Montecito Blvd, Santa Rosa.

A Sitting Room Conversation with Elizabeth Rosner and Susan Griffin
Survivor Cafe Elizabeth KramerOn Sunday, May 6, 2 to 4 p.m., Sitting Room directors JJ Wilson and Karen Petersen  invite you to join them in welcoming well-known novelists, poets, and essayists Elizabeth Rosner and Susan Griffin. About the event, the directors say, “Non-fiction has been a somewhat neglected genre on our programs and so we are the more delighted to have these two practitioners of that useful and hospitable art visit with us this afternoon.  Elizabeth Rosner’s  2017 Survivor’s Café:  The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory is her first book of non-fiction.  We are fortunate indeed to have her here with her friend Susan Griffin who is a long time friend of The Sitting Room. Susan’s books are everywhere on our shelves, as her A story is told as much by silence as by speech. Susan Griffinsubjects and genres  vary so widely.  For example:  her Tony award winning play, Voices and then the classic study Women and Nature.  On May 3, she has chosen to talk about a book none of us have seen because it is not yet finished!  Its working title is  Strong Man and it is a rare experience to talk with an author about a work in progress.  Susan feels comfortable enough in the Sitting Room to do so. Lucky us.  Please come.  No need for reservations and no fee, of course, and all welcome.  Co-sponsored by the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide.”

The Sitting Room is located at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove, CA 94951. Directions, parking instructions and details about this and other events at

Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape—Sande Anfang’s New Chapbook
Road Worrier. Sandra AnfangFinishing Line Press has just released Sandra Anfang’s new chapbook, Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape. Most of you know Sandra as the director of the wonderful and always surprising Rivertown Poets at Aqus Café. I hope you’ll consider joining Sandra and me on Monday,  May 7 at 6:15. This will be a special book launch for Sandra, who will perform some improvisational duets with bass player Steve Shain.

This will also be an opportunity for me to share some of my recent translations of Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon, as well as new work from a three-year literary journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy. The reading begins at 6:15. Open mic follows the reading. You can get a lovely meal at Aquus, and if you’d like to join the open mic, be sure to get there to sign up by 5:45.

Celebration of the Life of Penelope La Montagne
Family and friends of Penelope La Montagne will be gathering on Friday, May 11 from 2-5 PM at Villa Chanticleer  in Healdsburg. If you so desire, please bring a favorite pie (sweet or savory) for the Pie Party Table! Penelope LOVED pie and made the most delicious pear pie from her beloved d’anjou pear tree. The location is 900 Chanticleer Way, Healdsburg, CA.

Doriane Laux Reading with Joshua Mensch May 17
Dorianne LauxMarin Poetry Center’s Third Thursdays presents Dorianne Laux, reading from her new and selected poems, Only As the Day is Long, and Joshua Mensch, founding editor of the online literary journal B O D Y, reading from BECAUSE, a lyric memoir. The reading will be at 7:30 PM at Falkirk Center, 1408 Mission St., San Rafael.

Shakespeare Costume Party?! Sounds Like a Hoot!
ShakespeareDress in your finest Shakespearean garb and head down to Copperfield’s Books Sunday, May 20, 2:00 p.m. for a Shakespeare Costume Party with Crispin Clarke, founder of Shakesprints. This Petaluma-based company celebrates Shakespeare by printing beautiful Shakespearean illustrations on all types of materials. At Copperfield’s, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma. 

Poem for May
When I was a kid in Catholic school, we held a May Day coronation of Mary, with our very own May queen and king— more pagan than Christian, I think. We had a May altar decked with flowers. We also left baskets and bouquets of flowers on our neighbors’ doorsteps. When I was a little older, I got to see the European celebration of May Day as International Worker’s Day. And in honor of that tradition, here is a poem about the dignity of work, by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Naomi Shihab NyeLoving Working

     “We clean to give space for Art.”
        Micaela Miranda, Freedom Theatre, Palestine

Work was a shining refuge when wind sank its tooth
into my mind. Everything we love is going away,
drifting – but you could sweep this stretch of floor,
this patio or porch, gather white stones in a bucket,
rake the patch for future planting, mop the counter
with a rag. Lovely wet gray rag, squeeze it hard
it does so much. Clear the yard of blowing bits of plastic.
The glory in the doing. The breath of the doing.
Sometimes the simplest move kept fear from
fragmenting into no energy at all, or sorrow from
multiplying, or sorrow from being the only person
living in the house.

Copyright © by Naomi Shihab Nye

To hear the author reading her poem, use this link:

Terry Ehret, Sonoma County Literary Update Co-editor


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