Posted by: wordrunner | June 1, 2019

June 1, 2019

Dear Literary Folk,

Happy summer! I remember some years ago, I met a fellow writer newly arrived in Sonoma County, who asked me “Where are all the writers?” I was just then getting the Literary Update off the ground, and all I could think of as an answer is “Everywhere!” Take a look at our Sonoma County Writers Directory page, if you have any doubts. And if you aren’t listed there, send us a photo and bio, and how to find you, if you want to be found. E-mail to

I’ve gathered here a bit of the June news from around our creative county.

Petaluma Poet Forrest Gander wins the Pulitzer Prize
Forrest GanderBorn in the Mojave Desert in Barstow, California, Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and spent significant years in San Francisco, Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico, Eureka Springs, AR, and Providence, RI. He married the poet C.D. Wright with whom he has a son, Brecht Wright Gander. Forrest Gander holds degrees in both geology and English literature and teaches at Brown. He is the author of eleven books of poems and two novels, plus multimedia collaborations and distinguished translations.

Be WithGander won the Pulitzer for his latest collection of poem, Be With, which includes a series of elegies on the loss of his wife and partner of more than thirty years, who died suddenly in her sleep in 2016; a long multilingual poem examining the syncretic geological and cultural history of the U.S. border with Mexico; and reflections on his mother dying of Alzheimer’s.

Dan Chiasson of the New Yorker writes of Be With, “It is a self-suturing wound, equal parts bridge and void.”

Here’s a link to Forrest’s website:

Looking ahead to the fall’s poetry events, Gander will be the featured reader at the Poesia de Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading. Details about this will be in September’s Literary Update.

Congratulations to Maya Khosla and Happy Birthday to the Sitting Room!
Our Sonoma County Poet Laureate, Maya Khosla, has been awarded a California Humanities for All grant. Along with her previously awarded Creative Sonoma Grant, the Humanities for All funding  will help her continue her work taking students out into the field for writing, reading and recording sessions, and will also support the readings and events that are part of her Poet Laureate project.  Check out Maya’s Poet Laureate Page for details about how her project is unfolding.

Maya will also be a featured reader at the annual Sitting Room Birthday Party on Sunday, June 2, 2-5 PM.

Also reading will be Rosemary Manchester and Eloise Van Tassell. Plus conversation, creativity and cake. More details about the birthday party readings, workshops, book groups, and more at:

Remembering Linda Gregg
Linda GreggLast month, the Marin Poetry Center hosted a tribute to award-winning American poet Gregg’s life and work with poems and stories from poets and friends. Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander, Jane Hirshfield and other poets and friends.

Linda was raised in Marin County, went to Francis Drake high school, and earned her BA and an MA from San Francisco State University. Her books include In the Middle Distance (2006); All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems (2008), a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2008 and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; The Poets & Writers’ Jackson Prize; Things and Flesh (1999), finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; Chosen by the Lion (1995); Sacraments of Desire (1992); Alma (1985); and Too Bright to See(1981).

Linda Gregg died on March 20, at the age of seventy-six.  I have selected a sample of her work for the June poem at the end of this post.

Rivertown Poets celebrates its Sixth Anniversary
On Monday, June 3, come out for a reading at Aqus Cafe (189 H Street in Petaluma). The featured readers are husband/wife duo of Chappell and Dave Holt. They’ll be breaking with our purely poetic tradition to offer a program of highly original music and spoken word.  The show gets underway at 6:15 p.m, and open mic follows the features. Come early for good seats and an open mic slot.

Book & Brews and Open Mic the Santa Rosa Central Library
Two events in June will turn the spotlight on our Central Library in downtown Santa Rosa. The first is Books & Brews, a fundraiser for the library system on Saturday, June 8, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. This is a chance to experience the Santa Rosa Central Library at night with a beer in hand. (And I’ll bet you haven’t done that before!) Play giant Jenga in the courtyard, test out the electric piano, take a spin on the blender bike. $75 ticket price includes entry to the event along with cider, beer, and appetizers.

And then on Saturday, June 15, 3:00-5:00 p.m., the library will kick off its Inaugural Open Mic at the Forum Room. Music, poetry, comedy, spoken word, and more. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. All ages welcome. Slots are 5-10 minutes long and space is limited, so please register in advance. An electric piano is available for performers.

Santa Rosa Central Library is located at 211 E St, Santa Rosa. Check the calendar page for details about how to sign up for these events.

Writing For Our Lives: Narrative/Poetic Medicine
Narrative /Poetic MedicinePicasso once famously said, “One day the sight of a painting will cure the pain of a toothache.” Well, maybe he didn’t say it—my Google search turned up nothing—and we all know what an unreliable narrator memory can be. But the idea of art having a curative effect is not new.

Now there is a formal study of this called Narrative /Poetic Medicine. I have been hearing about this from a physician friend who just earned her MA degree in this new field from Dominican.

Here’s what Dominican University’s Program says about Narrative Medicine.

The term “Narrative Medicine” typically applies to the inclusion of literary study as an integral part of the education of caregivers. In these programs, medical students, doctors, and other caregivers practice the art of attentive listening through the close reading of creative literature. Close reading trains caregivers to follow clues to a patient’s illness that may not have a physical symptom, to listen for subtexts and hear significant metaphors within the patient’s narrative. Close reading also helps to nurture the qualities of empathy and compassion, qualities that have traditionally been nurtured by the arts and humanities.

On Sunday, June 9, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Occidental Center for the Arts’ Book Launch Series will present Writing For Our Lives, An Anthology of Prose & Poetry by the Women’s Writing Group at the Forestville Wellness Center, embodying the concept of Narrative Medicine. OCA is located at 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd. Check the calendar page for details.

Off the Page Readers Theater presents Borderlines
We often find ourselves on the brink of crossing over to …… a new plan, a new relationship, another town-state-country. What drives us there? What keeps us here? Explore with us what local writers have to say about this theme,in stories and poems: Laurel Aiona, Robin Beeman, Guy Biederman, Armando García Dávila, Jodi Hottel, James Howe, Phyllis Meshulam, Megan O’Hara, Sara Saulsbury, Lisa Shulman.

Borderlines has three performances. The first two are Friday June 28 and Saturday June 29, 8:00 p.m. at Copperfield’s Books, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa. Tickets at the door: $15 general, $10 students. The third is on Sunday, June 30, 3:00 p.m. at Abacus, 101 South Main St, Sebastopol.

Redwood Writers—Crow: In the Light of Day, In the Dark of Night
CROW: In the Light of Day, In the Dark of NightRedwood Writers is proud to present its 2019 Poetry Anthology, enhanced by our local artists, which expresses the heart and talent of our community. Redwood Writers Poetry Anthology depicts the rich and varied aspects of life in Sonoma county. In addition, it has a special section devoted to five poets who received the Sonoma County Award of Merit distinction. We believe this anthology is truly something to crow about. Les Bernstein and Fran Claggett-Holland, editors; Christine McDonald, cover artist; interior art, Warren Bellows.

Check out more new Sonoma County publications on the Writers in Print page:


Poem for June
You can hear an audio of Linda Gregg reading this poem at


All that is uncared for.
Left alone in the stillness
in that pure silence married
to the stillness of nature.
A door off its hinges,
shade and shadows in an empty room.
Leaks for light. Raw where
the tin roof rusted through.
The rustle of weeds in their
different kinds of air in the mornings,
year after year.
A pecan tree, and the house
made out of mud bricks. Accurate
and unexpected beauty, rattling
and singing. If not to the sun,
then to nothing and to no one.

“Elegance” by Linda Gregg. Copyright 2008 by Linda Gregg. Reprinted from All of It Singing, Graywolf Press, 2006


Terry Ehret, co-editor
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update



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