Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2019

May 1, 2019

May 1, 2019

Dear Literary Folk,

April’s National Poetry Month was spectacular here in Sonoma County and beyond. The calendar page turns, and before we can catch our breath, it’s May. I read over the upcoming month’s events, but I really must direct you to that page to see for yourself the interesting array of workshops, readings, performances lined up for the weeks ahead.

I try to feature different programs and genre in each month’s posts. But if you think your particular genre has been underrepresented, you’re probably right! Send us your announcements! Jo-Anne and I promise to do our best to give each the spotlight.

I’ll start this month by giving a shout-out to all those Sonoma County folk who have recently published work and/or books. Check out our Sonoma County in Print page: And let us know when you have work in print to celebrate.

Three May Events that Bend/Blend the Genres

Patti Trimble’s Penelope Poems
Patti TrimblePenelopeA terrific example of multi-genre performance is coming up on Thursday evening—Patti Trimble’s The Penelope Poems: an old-new story told in spoken word, presented by Humanities West at the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, Thursday, May 2 at 6 p.m. The text draws on the beautiful ancient epic, weaving themes of old history —heroes, women on islands, how literature creates us, death, and fidelity—into our impossible here and now. A two-person chorus adds comments by BCE and 21st- century thinkers. Musician Peter Whitehead plays compositions on home-built flutes, zither, and song. Julia Whitehead sings beautifully about Penelope’s bad dream, the Sirens, and love. Maya Khosla, Sonoma County Poet Laureate, adds her voice to the chorus! Details at:

treePoetry and the Spirit of Trees
Current Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla and Poet Laureate Emerita Gwynn O’Gara will present their work Saturday, May 18, 2:00-3:00 p.m. in the studio of painter Corrine Haverinen, whose Asian-influenced work celebrates the calming spirit of trees. The event will include Mary Vaughan’s Bird Cut-Outs, and refreshments. In Santa Rosa’s SOFA district, Backstreet Studios, Studio E, 312 South A Street, Santa Rosa.

The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth, and Meditations
In May we might remember our own mothers, or be remembered as someone’s mother. Earth is our great mother, and holding the feminine divine sacred is a tradition that long predates the worship of male gods. On Sunday, May 19, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Occidental Center for the Arts’ Book Launch Series: Hallie Iglehart Austen’s The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth, and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine. Readings, slide show, music, and guest, Joan Marler, archaeomythologist. Free event. OCA is at 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd.

Sonoma Valley Authors FestivalSonoma Valley Authors Festival 2019
This weekend, May 2-5, The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa hosts authors from around the world will discuss their books, their lives, and a variety of topics and include fiction and non-fiction, biographies, history, politics, adventure, medicine, and science. For more information:

And on Saturday, May 4, 5:00-7:30 p.m., as part of the Sonoma Valley Authors Festival, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, and Jon Meacham, noted Presidential Biographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author will be reading at Sonoma Plaza, West Spain & 1st Street West, Sonoma. The event is free!

Favorite Poems Community Reading
Last month in the April Post, Jodi Hottel invited the literary community to send her a poem you’d like to read or recite for the Favorite Poem Community Reading. This is a free event at Sebastapol Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 11, 2:00-4:00 p.m. If you’re one of the presenters, huzzah! If you’re a fan of poetry, come along and join the celebration. Refreshments will be served. 282 S. High Street, Sebastopol. Special thanks to Jodi for organizing this year’s event.

The Pointe Patrol and the Tubbs Fire
Here’s a new voice on the Literary Update scene: Earik Beann. On Friday, May 17, 7:00 p.m. Copperfield’s Books in Montgomery Village presents Earik Beann with his new book Pointe Patrol. During the October 2017 Tubbs Fire, the fire department was completely overwhelmed and had to let many houses burn rather than waste resources in trying to protect them. During this chaos, a vigilante fire force sneaked back into the mandatory evacuation zone. The “Pointe Patrol” saved their neighborhood, and this is their story.

City Lights PoetsNBLA Features Berrigan, Caples, and John Coletti
North Bay Letterpress Arts once again brings cutting edge poetry to the North Bay on Sunday, May 19, 7:00 p.m. Edmund Berrigan, author of More Gone (City Lights, 2019), Garrett Caples, editor of the Spotlight Poetry series at City Lights Books, and John Coletti, author of Deep Code will read their poems. North Bay Letterpress Arts, 925-D Gravenstein Hwy So., Sebastopol (next to Handline & behind Bee Kind).

How to Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats
I’ll admit, most poets don’t have the knack. It’s hard enough to get our characters to talk or walk across the room, which might take a couple of hundred pages. The real problem may be that poets don’t actually want their readers to turn the page. We’d rather them savor the sounds, the rhythms, the undercurrents, the innuendos. As Kenneth Koch wrote in his poem, “One Train May Hide Another”:

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line—
Then it is safe to go on reading.

So when a poet (like me) wants to break the lyric spell and slip into narrative fiction, we often need to go to the experts. Lucky for you, Amanda McTigue and Jordan Rosenfeld are right here in Sonoma County this month. Whether you’re an experienced writer of fiction, a novice, or a visitor from another genre altogether, here are two workshops worth your time.

Amanda McTigueAmanda McTigue: Character Through Action / Character As Action
Amanda McTigue offers a workshop on what actors and directors can teach writers. $5, members; $10, nonmembers. Sunday, May 19, 2:00–4:30 p.m. Redwood Writers presents Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa. Details at:

Jordan Rosenfeld How to Write a Page-Turner: Master the Art of Tension.
Jordan RosenfeldTension in novels is the heart of conflict, it keeps readers guessing, and characters on their toes. Join Jordan Rosenfeld, author of nine books, for a fun workshop on Saturday, May 25, 3:00 p.m. at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma You don’t have to have a manuscript in progress to enjoy this workshop. Workshop + book = $21. Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma.

There are more workshops on memoir and fiction you can check out on the Workshops page:


Poem for May

Cristinia AptowiczFor Mother’s Day, here is “My Mother Wants to Know if I’m Dead,” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.

My Mother Wants to Know if I’m Dead

ARE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.
The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks
I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless
on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke
since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed
to open the chimney flue before making a fire (and,
if I do happen to be alive, here’s a link to a YouTube
video on fireplace safety that I should watch). Mom
muses about the point of writing this email. If I am
already dead, which is what she suspects, I wouldn’t
be able to read it. And if I’m alive, what kind of daughter
am I not to write her own mother to let her know
that I’ve arrived at my fancy residency, safe and sound,
and then to immediately send pictures of everything,
like I promised her! If this was a crime show, she posits,
the detective might accuse her of sending this email
as a cover up for murder. How could she be the murderer,
if she wrote an email to her daughter asking if she was murdered?
her defense lawyers would argue at the trial. In fact,
now that she thinks of it, this email is the perfect alibi
for murdering me. And that is something I should
definitely keep in mind, if I don’t write her back
as soon as I have a free goddamn second to spare.

Copyright © 2018 by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
This poem originally appeared in How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018).


Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update



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