Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2020

November 2020

Voting is preciousDear Literary Folk,

It’s been a long election season, and I suspect that many of you have already voted. Thank you! If you haven’t yet, please set aside time to make your voice heard. So much depends on the leadership we’ll have moving forward, though in reality, each of us leads through the work we do, the hope that motivates us, the vision we carry, and the lives we touch, whether we know it or not.

Remembering Diane Di Prima (1934-2020)
Diane di PrimaOn October 25, our literary community lost a great poet, Diane Di Prima.  Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Di Prima became part of Greenwich Village’s beat scene in the 1950s and 60s, publishing poetry, editing a newsletter The Floating Bear, co-founding the New York Poets Theatre, and later The Poet’s Press. She moved to California in 1968, lived for a time in Marshall, and settled in San Francisco where she taught at New College of California, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco Art Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, and Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado,

Allen Ginsberg described di Prima as “a learned humorous bohemian, classically educated and twentieth-century radical, her writing, informed by Buddhist equanimity, is exemplary in imagist, political and mystical modes. … She broke barriers of race-class identity, delivered a major body of verse brilliant in its particularity” (

Di Prima authored more than thirty books of poetry, plays, short stories, novels, and nonfiction, including her eight-part feminist epic, Loba. She was named San Francisco’s Poet Laureate in 2009.
At the end of this post, I have included Di Prima’s poem “City Lights 1961.” Scroll down to the Poem for November to read.
Poetry of Remembrance/Poesía del Recuerdo
For more than 20 years, the Petaluma community has held an evening of poetry for Sonoma County and beyond to remember those we have lost. Since 2004, the Día de los Muertos Committee has included this event in its month-long celebration of the Day of the Dead. Many of you have been part of this annual event over the years, as featured readers and as part of the community reading.

Because of the current COVID pandemic and necessary restrictions on in-person gatherings, this event has had to take a virtual form. Part of this new form includes a website, created by John Johnson, with a history of the event, photos from past years, and current audio and video recordings of readings by current Sonoma County Poet Laureate Phyllis Meshulam, Jabez Churchill, Sande Anfang, and more.

On behalf of the Día de los Muertos Petaluma committee, John Johnson invites all of you to send a poem or other remembrance of a loved one, in text or audio or video, with or without photos, to the website Poetry of Remembrance/Poesía del Recuerdo.

Nancy Morales , John Johnson and Terry EhretPlagios / PlagarismsOn Monday, November 16, 6:15 p.m. Rivertown Poets will feature the poetry from Plagios/Plagiarisms, by Mexican author Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon. Translators Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy Morales will read a selection of poems from Volume One, as well as work they are currently translating for volume two. Their reading will be followed by an open Mic Reading (3 minutes per reader).
Join the meeting at: or just show up at Click on “Weekly Poetry Reading.” No password needed. 
More November Events
Check out our calendar page for a more complete list of literary events for November. Here are just a few I want to spotlight:

On Wednesday, November 11, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Dominican University is offering a workshop called “The Nuts and Bolts of Applying to MFA programs”: A hands-on workshop about putting together an MFA application with guidance and writing prompts to help participants craft their Letter of Intent or Artist Statement.

Juan Felipe Herrera and Kim Shuck will be featured readers for Copperfield’s Books on Thursday, November 12, 7:00 p.m., reading from their books Every Day We Get More Illegal by Herrera; and Deer Trails by Shuck.
“Writing Now on Earth: with Patti Trimble is an online workshop for writing and reflection: generating new work from our places on the planet. Saturday, November 14, 10:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Occidental Center for the Arts’ Literary Series presents a Zoom book launch of Joan Frank’s new novel Outlook for Earthlings on Sunday, November 15, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Poem for November

City Lights 1961

Going there for the first time
it was so much smaller then
that crowded downstairs full of poetry
racks of tattered little mags against the wall
those rickety white tables where folks sat reading/writing
Vesuvio’s was like an adjunct office

Arriving again a year later, two kids in tow
Lawrence gave me a huge stack of his publications
“I’ve got books” he said “like other people have mice”

And North Beach never stopped being mysterious
when I moved out here in 1968
that publishing office on Filbert & Grant was a mecca
a place to meet up with my kids if we got separated
during one of those innumerable demonstrations
(tho Lawrence worried, told me I shd keep them
out of harm’s way, at home) I thought they shd learn
whatever it was we were learning—
Office right around the corner from the bead store
where I found myself daily, picking up supplies

How many late nights did we haunt the Store
buying scads of new poems from all corners of the earth
then head to the all-night Tower Records full of drag queens
& revolutionaries, to get a few songs

And dig it, City Lights still here, like some old lighthouse
though all the rest is gone,
the poetry’s moved upstairs, the publishing office
right there now too       & crowds of people
one third my age or less still haunt the stacks
seeking out voices from all quarters
of the globe

From The Poetry Deal (City Lights Books, 2014) by Diane di Prima. Copyright © 2014 Diane di Prima.
Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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