Posted by: wordrunner | October 1, 2019

October 2019

Dear literary folk,

Remembering Beatrice Lagos
Beatrice LagosOur literary community has lost an accomplished poet, memoirist, and novelist, and one of the most important bilingual poets writing in California. Beatriz Lagos was born in Argentina in 1931, during the years of successive military dictatorships. She moved to Petaluma in 1976, and lived here till her death on September 5, 2019. She was a Professor of Spanish Literature and Argentine Literature and History, graduated in Buenos Aires. She was also a graduate of Sonoma State University and UC Berkeley, and taught at Santa Rosa JC, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma State University.

Beatriz was devoted to the literary community, giving readings throughout the county, helping with the Bilingual Poetry on the Bus Program, Petaluma Poetry Walk, and Art after Dark Evenings; organizing and emceeing the Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading; and coordinating the Poem in Your Pocket events for National Poetry Month. For her extraordinary passion and talent, she was twice nominated for the Sonoma County Poet Laureate. But less widely known are Beatriz’s publications and work as a literary ambassador beyond our local community. In the years I came to know Beatriz, she spoke with great pleasure about living in Spain from 1990-1997, where her “House of the Poets” in Hita became a mecca for visiting poets from all over the world. She was proud to have been invited by The World Congress of Poets to attend the congresses in San Francisco, Madrid, Florence, and Greece with Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Nicanor Parra, and many others. You may know her two collections in English, The Great Petaluma Mill and Love and Wine Poems (both now out of print), but she also published three historical novels, her memoirs, and six collections of poetry in Spain and Mexico. In 2009, AACHE published Beatriz´s Selected Poems in English and her Poemas Selectos en español. 

October Literary Highlights
October offers many opportunities to come together as a literary community. Here are a few, but you’ll find many more on the October calendar page.

Watershed Environmental FestivalWatershed Environmental Poetry Festival
On Saturday, October 5, the annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival will be held at Civic Center Park in Berkeley. Featured readers include Patricia Smith, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla, Joshua McKinney, Kim Schuck, and young poets from the California Poets in the Schools Program. The day begins at noon and runs till 4:30. Local publishers will exhibit their books, and the stage events will also include music. The event is free. Poetry Flash is the sponsor. Location is the corner of MLK Jr. Way and Center.

Fall 2019 SRJC’s Work of Literary Merit is Thoreau’s Walden
Walden book coverIn a time of environmental crisis, it seems most fitting that Santa Rosa Junior College’s English Department has selected Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, as the Work of Literary Merit for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. For two semesters, many English classes will be reading this book together, and the English Department is sponsoring a series of lectures, which are open to the public. The lectures are held in Newman Auditorium on the Santa Rosa Campus from noon-1:00 PM.

Here is the schedule for the Walden Events coming up in October and November.

Wednesday, October 9,  12-1 pm: “Waking Up in Walden.” Terry Mulcaire

Wednesday, November 13 12-1 pm  Ed Castellini

Monday, November 18, 12 noon – 1 pm
“Making Walden: How Thoreau Went About It.” Mitchell Breitwieser

Mitchell BreitweisWalden is the well-known and much-loved story of Henry David Thoreau’s “life in the woods,” as he put it in the subtitle. The story of Walden itself, the book, is much less familiar, but equally intriguing, at least for me, because it shows the growth in Thoreau’s understanding of what had happened to him while he lived alone by the side of the pond during the years after he had returned to town. He knew from the first that what he considered to have been a great experiment had changed him for the better, reconciling him with his own life by providing a sense of direction, and he set pen to paper to encourage others to attempt to do something similar. But writing the book ended up taking eight years, running through seven drafts, as he attempted to keep pace with his deepening comprehension of what had happened within him during those two years of solitary self-exploration. I will try to tell the story of the book, and to persuade you that knowing that story will enhance your appreciation of the story that is told in the book.

Letter Press Printing Is Alive and Well in Sonoma County

Three events coming up at North Bay Letterpress Arts. The first is fundraiser on Sunday, October 6, 2:00-5:00 p.m. at Hopmonk Tavern, where a special menu and libations will be served, featuring speaker Kathleen Walkup, a silent auction and raffle, and other fun & games. Lunch will be followed by a reception and champagne toast up the road at the printshop. The goal is two-fold: 1) to raise funds to launch a youth printing program and 2) to sustain the NBLA organization. Details and registration:

The second event is an afternoon with Pat Nolan on Sunday, October 20, 2PM. Join Pat Nolan in celebrating Philip Whalen’s birthday, the publication of Volume Two of Pat’s Selected Poems, Notebook Keyboard, as well as meandering digressions covering his 50 plus year odyssey as an outlier’s outlier, poet, translator, editor, and as a publisher, from the days of the mimeograph revolution to handmade craft books to desktop print on demand publishing, blogging, and twitterture. Books will be available for sale. The event is free but donations are always appreciated. NBLA/Iota Press 925D Gravenstein Hwy S., Sebastopol (behind BeeKind).

The third event is a hands-on workshop in Letterpress Poetry Printing with Eric Johnson of Iota Press on Saturday, October 26, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Typeset a short poem or quotation and they’ll print it on a platen press. A chance to explore some of the refinements of type design and the mechanical delights of the vintage presses. Touching on the history of typographic treatments of poetry. Cost: $75. No previous experience needed. Details and registration:

LitQuake Is Coming

Thursday, October 10 through Saturday, October 19, San Francisco’s 20th Litquake. Featuring Tobias Wolff, Ann Patchett, Jane Hirschfield, Jeanette Winterson, Michelle Tea and many more. Details at:

Poetry of Remembrance/Poesía del Recuerdo Community Reading
On Friday, October 18, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, members of the community are invited to attend the annual “Poesía del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance” celebration. We are pleased to announce that this year’s event will take place at the Connie Mahoney Reading Room in the library on the SRJC Petaluma Campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Petaluma.

Our featured presenters include Forrest Gander, recipient of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, who will read poems in Spanish and English; artist and sociologist Irma Vega Bijou who will share poetry and art honoring José Guadalupe Posada, whose “Calavera Catrina” came to symbolize Día de los Muertos in Mexico; and poet and Spanish teacher Jabez Churchill, who will offer more bilingual poetry and songs. The event will be hosted by Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla.

Those who wish to honor the memory of a departed loved one are encouraged to bring something—a photo or personal item—that can be placed on a community altar for the evening.

Those who would also like to be part of the community reading are welcome to present a brief poem or statement, in Spanish, English or other language. After the event, you will be invited to post your poem or remembrance in the Petaluma Regional Library of Sonoma County until November 2, the final day of Día de los Muertos. If you are interested in reading please contact John Johnson:

This event is part of the Día de los Muertos Petaluma celebration, featuring community altars, sugar skull workshops, music, dance, and a procession with giant puppets.

Admission is free. Traditional refreshments will be served. For more information about this or other Día de Los Muertos events, check out Facebook at El Día de Los Muertos Petaluma.

Poetry and Music in Albany
On Friday, October 25, 7:00 p.m. Sebastopol poet and book artist Renée Owen will read her work, accompanied by Brian Foster on shakuhachi flute. Renee will be joined by poets Chuck Brickley and Bruce Feingold, at the Fourth Friday Formal Reading series in Albany, presented by Calliope: East Bay Music and Arts. The event includes an open reading period and an interview with the poets. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Avenue, Albany.

Celebrate Sixteen Rivers Press’s 20th Anniversary!
Every fall, Sixteen Rivers hosts a Benefit Reading, but this year, we are throwing a party and inviting all our friends to be our guests.

Join us for an afternoon of wine, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and readings by Sixteen Rivers poets to celebrate twenty years of publishing fine poetry and to thank our donors, subscribers, advisors, friends of the press, and lovers of poetry for making it all possible.

The event is Sunday, November 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse, 267 Buena Vista Avenue, Mill Valley, California 94941. The event is free, but to help us anticipate the number of guests, we request that you RSVP. You can to this by going to and click on Register in the upper right-hand corner.


Poem for October

Walden Pond and Thoreaux's cabom


Daybreak, Swimming Walden
by Barbara Swift Brauer

I step forward at water’s edge, another step,
crouch and launch face-first into the liquid dark.

First light rides the ripples as I begin the practiced pull
hand over hand. I stroke and breathe

and think of the boatmen ferrying souls
across the rivers of the underworld,

of Michael crossing Jordan, and imagine
saints moving with me across the colorless depths.

The difference between a pond and a lake
is a matter of opinion (a lake may be larger),

but this morning Walden is a pond and a lake
and a river all at once. I am here and everywhere.

When have I been so immersed, so central
to the heart of things? The water brightens,

echoes the sky, blue on the crest of a wave,
cloud-yellow the next. The circle of the forest

grows distinct. Sun tops the trees,     
full flooding the pond.


Narbara Swift BrauerBarbara Swift Brauer is a freelance writer living in San Geronimo, California. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies as well as in art exhibitions and installations. Her poetry collections At Ease in the Borrowed World (2013) and Rain, Like a Thief (2019) were published by Sixteen Rivers Press. With portrait artist Jackie Kirk, she is coauthor of the nonfiction book, Witness: The Artist’s Vision in “The Face of AIDS” (Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996).



Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor


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