Posted by: wordrunner | April 1, 2020

April 2020

Dear Literary Folk,

Jo-Anne Rosen and I are hoping this post of the Sonoma County Literary Update finds you safe and sheltering at home during these uncertain times. And if you are one of the many doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, restaurant workers, maintenance staff, IT staff keeping us alive, fed, and connected, our hats are off to you! If you are staying at home, helping to flatten the curve, thank you!

Every day, we wake up to a new reality, one which is frightening in its devastation and scope. We also find evidence of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of our extended community. Early on, the videos of Italians singing from their balconies lifted my spirits. These days, one of my favorite doses of sanity is Patrick Stewart’s daily readings of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

But how do we create a monthly calendar of literary events amidst a global pandemic? Of course, all of our April events, and very likely those for the foreseeable future, have been or will be canceled. Zooming may be one way we will be attending literary events, even when it is safe for us to gather again, so adding Zoom links to our monthly calendar may become a common feature. Eventually, Jo-Anne will be able to put together a calendar of links to online writing salons, readings, book launches, workshops, etc.

If you are hosting a literary event in an online format, send us the information, and bear with us as we shift to these new kinds of virtual gatherings.

In the meantime, I have gathered some literary news and information on a few such events coming up.

Sonoma County’s New Poet Laureate: Phyllis Meshulam

Maya KhoslaFor two years, Sonoma County has been fortunate to have the versatility and creativity of our literary ambassador, Maya Khosla. Maya designed her projects as Poet Laureate to nurture the healing of our community in the aftermath of devastating fires in the fall of 2017, which continued during Maya’s tenure in 2018 and 2019.

Phyllis MeshulamOur new Poet Laureate steps up at a time when many of us are turning to the arts to find hope and resilience. I’m delighted to announce this new Poet Laureate is Phyllis Meshulam. A long-time resident of Sonoma County, she has published four collections of poetry, most recently Land of My Father’s War, which won the Artists’ Embassy International Award. Her work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Ars Medica,; Bullets into Bells; Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace; and What Redwoods Know. Phyllis is also the editor of Poetry Crossing, CalPoet’s 50th anniversary lesson plan book, an inspirational resource for writers and teachers.

Phyllis is a shining light in our literary community, especially her work with young writers in the CalPoets program, the Poetry Out Loud Program, and many events her students participate in, including the Petaluma Poetry Walk and the Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading. She has reached diverse communities through her teaching and writing, from residents at Napa State Hospital, veterans, preschoolers, and English language learners. Her work is imbued with her passion for justice, sensitivity, and inclusiveness.

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts, along with the Poet Laureate Selection Committee, planned a reception for Maya and Phyllis for April 26. That celebration will be postponed, and we’ll let you know when it’s rescheduled.

Tribute to Geri DiGiorno
Speaking of rescheduling, the tribute to Geri Digiorno, originally scheduled for March 29, will also be held at a future date. Geri’s daughter, Michelle Baynes, has been posting on Facebook every day a new poem, photo, and work of art by Geri. If you’d like to check this out, here’s the Facebook link:

April is National Poetry Month
Yes, this is still National Poetry Month! The Academy of American Poets, which sponsors this annual celebration, asks readers to share a poem that helps to find courage, solace, and actionable energy, and a few words about how or why it does so. As responses continue to arrive from across the globe, you are invited to continue sharing poems from our collection on social media with the hashtag #ShelterInPoems or by writing to us at

I have chosen one of these ShelterInPoems for the April poem of the month: “Instructions on Not Giving Up,” by Ada Limón. Scroll down for this. 

Literary Events That Have Moved Online

Litquake on Lockdown
Rebecca Foust writes that she will be hosting Poets for National Poetry Month on Thursday, April 2, from 7-9 PM. Featured readers include Kazim Ali, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Jane Hirshfield.

This will be live streamed, and the link will be posted at 10 AM on Thursday at these pages:

Rumi’s Caravan
Rumis CaravanLarry Robinson sends this news: You are invited to join us for a live performance of Rumi’s Caravan, an evening of poetry in the ecstatic tradition featuring Larry Robinson, Rebecca Evert, Doug von Koss, Maya Spector, Barry Spector and Kay Crista.

To watch and listen please click this link on Saturday, April 4 at 7:30 PM PDT:…

This Zoom account is limited to the first 100 but they will endeavor to livestream it on FaceBook as well at

For more information about Rumi’s Caravan, check out this link:

Aqus Café/Rivertown Poetry Series
Sande Anfang will be hosting an open mic virtual poetry reading each Monday at 6:15 p.m. for one hour via the Zoom channel. You can sign up for an open mic slot if you’d like to read. She asks that everyone keep shares to two poems / three minutes total. Here’s how to sign up:

Go to Click on Aqus Poetry Open Mic, Details, and Find Out More.

Fill in the brief jotform. (“tell us about yourself” is optional.)

Virtual Book Launch for Sixteen Rivers Press
The Distant SoundNo surprise, all our April readings have been cancelled. However, poet Eliot Schain invites you to a Zoom launch of The Distant Sound from his own home on Sunday, April 5, 3:00 p.m. Eliot plans to read from his book for 20 minutes.

Join Zoom Reading from The Distant Sound, by Eliot Schain
Meeting ID: 343 129 7167

Our other new books, The Machinery of Sleep, by Patrick Cahill, and Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume One, by Ulalume González de León, will be celebrated at a later date.

If you want to purchase any of these books online, go to the Sixteen Rivers website: and click on the Order page from the menu. It’s best to use Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox. For some reason, Safari creates glitches. If Safari is your only browsing option, you can order from Small Press Distribution:

West Coast Literary Events Go Online
“With book tours, festivals, conferences, and other literary events being canceled around the world due to COVID-19 concerns, the tech-friendly west coast literary community has begun creating digital events to keep authors and readers connected during the coming weeks of social distancing and quarantine.”

This is the opening sentence of an article in Publishers Weekly. Want to find out about online literary events beyond Sonoma County? You can read the rest at this link:

North Bay Bohemian Feature and Podcast of Plagios/Plagiarisms
Thanks to Karen Hess and Daedalus Howell at the Bohemian, who have put together a feature and podcast on the translation of Ulalume González de León’s poetry, by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy J. Morales. Both will be available soon. You can check these links:

Music, Arts, and Culture:

Kelly’s Cove Press Online Novel: Separation Sonoma
You can follow Bart Schneider’s new work online at Bart says, “I plan to add new chapters every two or three days. Chester Arnold is going to start adding art and I’m putting up photos.”


Poem for April

Instructions on Not Giving Up
by Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.


Terry Ehret, Literary Update Co-Editor
Jo-Anne Rosen, Literary Update Co-Editor



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