Posted by: wordrunner | December 1, 2018

December 2018

Dear Literary Folk,

On a River Winding Home
On a River Winding HomeFor at least 20 years, I’ve been enjoying the photography of Petaluma artist Scott Hess. Like a good poem, his photos often teach me to see what I’d otherwise overlook. Some of you may enjoy his work on Facebook, and if so, then you know that he has recently teamed up with writer John Sheehy to produce a fabulous collection of photos and stories about local landscape and history: On a River Winding Home. (

Dine with the Authors
I hope you’ll check out Scott’s Facebook page for this book and catch the opportunity to “Dine with the Authors” 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, December 10 at Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa. Scott, John, along with Susanna Solomon, Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores, John Joseph O’Brien, and Kitty Wells, will be reading from their latest published books. You’ll need reservations, so check the calendar page for all the details.

Reverberations at Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Just a reminder that if you haven’t had the chance to view the art and poetry exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, you can catch the last two days of Reverberations: A Visual Conversation this weekend. This unique exhibit pairs over 40 works of art with original poems inspired by the art. Artists include Francis Bacon, Enrique Chagoya, Viola Frey, Robert McChesney, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, and many of the poets are from Sonoma County, including Katherine Hastings, Maya Khosla, Gwynn O’Gara, Barbara Hirschfeld, Nancy Dougherty, and Fran Claggett. The range of styles, both of the artists and the poets, is astonishing. The exhibit closes on December 2. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday to 12 pm to 5 pm.

Make Art Not War
Women Artists Datebook/Syracuse Cultural Workers
One of my favorite publishers is a company called Syracuse Cultural Workers, a progressive publisher committed to peace, sustainability, social justice, feminism and multiculturalism. I like them for many reasons, but most of all, for the respectful way they treat their artists and writers.

Syracuse Cultural WorkersHere’s what the term “Cultural Workers” means to them: “First, that the task of creating culture in a society is not the work of an elite, highly-paid few—which has become the case in our mass-market society. . . . Second, that people who create culture are legitimate workers who deserve to be recognized and valued for their work, not ‘patronized.’ Third, that the process of creation is based in a desire to improve the lives of people not to just turn a profit. Fourth, that all of us, in some way, are capable of being cultural workers if we can only free ourselves from ‘I’m not talented’ paralysis that elitism and competition produce in our capitalist society.

I’ve been fortunate to have poems published in years past in their annual Women Artists Datebook, and so when I recently received their call for submissions for their 2020 datebook, I wanted to pass this along to the literary folk of Sonoma County.

They include in every edition up to 16 pieces of visual art and 15 pieces of poetry by ANY women (including LGBTQIAA). They pay their contributors for their work, unlike most poetry publications.

Here’s the link to find out more about Syracuse Cultural Workers and check their submission guidelines:

Fire and Rain at Iota Press
Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of CaliforniaThis Sunday, December 2, Iota Press in Sebastopol hosts a poetry reading with Iris Dunkle, Donna Emerson, Gail Entrekin, Catharine Lucas, Elizabeth Heron, and Barbara Quick, who will be reading their poems from the new anthology, Fire and Rain, Ecopoetry of California, edited by Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan. The reading is 2:30-4:30 p.m. Iota Press is located at 925 Suite D, Gravenstein Highway.

Writing and Collage with Susan Hagen
Also on Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., local writer Susan Hagen and collage artists Susanne Petermann will lead a workshop “Image and Word: Writing and Collage for Women,” a dynamic combination of collage-making and writing practice that opens a door to the inner life. All art materials are included. Check the calendar listing for details.

December Story-Telling Events
Sher Lianne Christian will host Story Time Open Mic at Hardcore Coffee in Sebastopol on Wednesday, December 5, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Bring a 5-minute story to share. Location: 81 Bloomfield Rd, on the corner of 116 and Bloomfield in Sebastopol. Details on the calendar page.

And on Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 p.m. West Side Stories Petaluma presents the GrandSlam at the Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, where you’ll hear eight months worth of winning tellers (plus three wild card tellers) join last year’s champ for an evening of amazing stories. Go to for your tickets.

The WIckham's Christmas at PemberlyDon’t Miss Marin Theater Company’s Christmas at Pemberly
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a theater aspiring to community goodwill, not to mention a dependable income stream, must be in want of a holiday show” (Celia Wren).

Two years ago, a friend took me to see Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly, an original play by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but focusing on the younger sister and wallflower Mary Bennet. It was absolutely charming!

This year, MTC has a new Austen spin by the same authors: The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley. Whether you’re an Austen fan or not, you’ll have fun.

Poem for December
Here’s one of my favorite poems by Marin poet and former US Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. It is a meditation on the etymology and connotations of the word “crib,” and finally a commentary on the Christian Nativity. Like many of Ryan’s poems, this one takes some twists you won’t expect.


From the Greek for
woven or plaited,
which quickly translated
to basket. Whence the verb
crib, which meant “to filch”
under cover of wicker
anything–some liquor,
a cutlet.
For we want to make off
with things that are not
our own. There is a pleasure
theft brings, a vitality
to the home.
Cribbed objects or answers
keep their guilty shimmer
forever, have you noticed?
Yet religions downplay this.
Note, for instance, in our
annual rehearsals of innocence,
the substitution of manger for crib
as if we ever deserved that baby,
or thought we did.

Crib,” by Kay Ryan, from Elephant Rocks, Grove Press, 1996.

Terry Ehret, Literary Update co-editor


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