Posted by: wordrunner | July 1, 2021

July 2021

Dear Literary Folk,

Remembering Amy Trussell

Amy TrussellA bright light in the Sonoma County literary community has gone out. Like many of you, I knew Amy from her presence at so many readings and events in the community, especially at the Sitting Room. I didn’t really know her poetry, though, until I read a stunning selection submitted to accompany her nomination for Sonoma County Poet Laureate (which I believe was 2015). Amy’s poetry was a gift, as was her indelible presence—gentle, strong, spiritual, funny. Amy’s friend Nancy Dougherty composed this remembrance of Amy. And if you scroll down to the end of this month’s post, you’ll find two poems of Amy’s, selected for the Literary Update by Nancy and Abby Bogolmony.


Amy Ruth Trussell
June 15, 1959 – June 3, 2021

It is with great sadness that I share the news of Amy Trussell’s passing this June 3, 2021. Revered by the Sonoma County poetry community, Amy took part in many readings and local contests. Her poems were widely published and she was author of five books including Meteorite Dealers, Ungulations, Physical Address, Poems in Ursa Minor, The Painted Tongue Flowers. Recently, she was a finalist for the William Faulkner Award.

Amy’s poetic voice—with its unique weaving of images and myth—reached for sky and earth, for an archaeology of meaning. We enjoyed writing together, at different cafes, and it never stopped amazing me how her poems unfolded. Unexpected, dreamlike, there was often a spiritual message, or a close look at the underpinning of the forces of life. They had a bit of her Topeka, Kansas upbringing and roots in the South, a touch of Anne Bradstreet; and the doula, dancer, and devoted mother and wife; all these identities. Humor and wit, too!

She embodied for me the essence of poetry, the life lived around and for poetry, and deeply held in friendships. Her words and heart touched many. She was beloved by her Monday Poetry group. I will miss her.

−Nancy Cavers Dougherty

To read more about Amy’s life and poetry, and to get news about her celebration of life (tentatively scheduled for Saturday, August 28), use this link:

The family of Amy Trussell welcomes donations in Amy’s memory to help with medical expenses and help with her celebration of life. Here’s the donation page link:


The Poetry Project at Sebastopol Center for the Arts

This ongoing series is presented every second Thursday through the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, and hosted by Fran Claggett-Holland, Les Bernstein, and Linda Loveland Reid

The Poetry Project is not just for people who write or read poems, but it is designed to allow people to think about what poetry could mean to them, an opportunity to discover new and familiar poets. The hosts and their guest poets explore how poems are created, edited and critiqued. Poetry can throw sideways light on the miraculous ordinary, or as Ted Kooser says, “a chance to see the life play in everything.”

The next Poetry Project program will be on July 8, 2021, 7-8:30 PM. The topic is Ekphrastic Poetry: Writing a poem to a work of art.

The SebArts 2018 art exhibit titled Reverberations featured works by famous artists curated from personal collections in Sonoma County. Poets were asked to write a poem about an assigned piece of art in the exhibit. Seven poets from Reverberations will be sharing those poems with us. The three hosts−Fran, Les, and Linda−will be joined by guest poets JoAnn Smith, Alicia Hugg, Freeman Ng and Michael Franco.

Note: A second exhibit, Reverberations II, is currently in the works and scheduled for early 2022. For this, poets’ works have been paired with visual artists who are asked to create an original piece in response—a kind of reverse ekphrasis.

Emilie Lygren and Naomi Shihab Nye Read for Blue Light at the Gallery

Friday, July 9, 2021
– 6:00 pm Pacific Time / 8:00 pm Central Time

Emilie LygrenEmilie Lygren is a poet and outdoor educator who loves talking to strangers, taking long walks, cooking for friends, and reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry. Emilie has developed dozens of publications and curricula focused on outdoor science education and social-emotional learning through her work at the award-winning BEETLES Project at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Her first book of poems, What We Were Born For, was published in April by Blue Light Press. Visit Emilie’s website for more of her work and words:

Naomi Shihab Nye is a longtime fan of Emilie Lygren and her work. They met at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center years ago and have spent many happy weeks writing together there. Naomi lives in San Antonio, Texas, is on faculty at Texas State University,. and is the Young People’s Poet Laureate through the Poetry Foundation (Chicago). She is author of author of Cast Away (Greenwillow/HarperCollins), The Tiny Journalist (BOA Editions), and many more books we all love.

Please join on Zoom. RSVP to to get the link.
(No RSVP required if you’re already on our “all readings” list.)

Fog and Light: San Francisco through the Eyes of the Poets Who Live Here

Fog and LightThe poems in Fog and Light were selected by Diane Frank. A love letter to San Francisco… in this collection of poems, we show you the city that most tourists miss…

This anthology includes poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Hirschman, Alejandro Murguía, Thomas Centolella, Kathy Evans, Alice Rogoff, Alison Luterman, Daniel J. Langton, Robert Scotellaro, Jane Underwood, and many other celebrated poets.

Among those “other celebrated poets” are Sonoma County’s Jodi Hottel, Gail Newman, Barbara Quick, and former poets laureate Katherine Hastings and Gwynn O’Gara.You can catch a recording of the June 24 reading, hosted by Poetry Flash on and the Poetry Flash channel onYouTube.

This anthology is available at 

Napa Valley Writers' Conference

Napa Valley Writers’ Conference August 1-6

Although not a July literary event, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference comes us the first week in August, so I wanted to give you all a chance to mark your calendars.

For those of you who will be making the trip to the conference, note that in 2021, the Conference will be held on the main campus of Napa Valley College, in the heart of Napa, CA. This represents a return to the conference roots – for the first several years, the Conference was held in Napa. This move also provides ample outdoor spaces on the main campus for all daytime events, including workshops, craft talks, and meals, making it a safer choice for social distancing. Evening readings will also be outdoors on the main campus, with a return to area wineries as soon as safe practice allows.

As always, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference offers an opportunity for local book-lovers and writers in the Napa Valley and North San Francisco Bay Area to hear daily readings and lectures by world-class authors of poetry and fiction. To find out the schedule for this year’s conference week, check this link:

The 40th Annual NCBA Ceremony on July 11

Joan FranckCongratulations to Sonoma County authors who have been nominated for a Northern California Book Award this year! This year’s nominees include and Joan Frank in Creative Nonfiction, Kathleen Winter in Poetry, and John Johnson, Nancy Morales, and Terry Ehret in California Translation in Poetry.

The awards will celebrate books published by Northern California authors and California literary translators in 2020. Terry Ehret, Nancy Morales, and John JohnsonEach year, outstanding works are selected by Northern California reviewers and editors, members of Northern California Book Reviewers. All of the nominated books are acknowledged and celebrated at the ceremony. The Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service will also be presented to a distinguished member of the Northern Californian literary community; the award carries a $1,000 honorarium.

The online event will be on Sunday, July 11, 2021 • 2:00 pm PDT, and will simultaneously broadcast on the San Francisco Public Library YouTube channel and Zoom.

Zoom Registration
NCBA website with nominee list
Facebook Event Page
SF Public Library

The event is free and open to the public. However, you will need to register in advance. After you register, you will receive an email with a link and information on how to join the reading. Or you can watch it as a YouTube Live Stream event at the link provided on the San Francisco Public Library website.

Here’s the full list of nominees in each category.

Indigo, Ellen Bass, Copper Canyon Press
Piñata Theory, Alan Chazaro, Black Lawrence Press
Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged), Judy Halebsky, University of Arkansas Press
Bonfire Opera, Danusha Laméris, University of Pittsburgh Press
Storage Unit for the Spirit House, Maw Shein Win, Omnidawn
Transformer, Kathleen Winter, Word Works

Tell Me, Signora, Ann Harleman, Elixir Press
The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, Caroline Kim, University of Pittsburgh Press
A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth, Daniel Mason, Little, Brown and Company
Only the River, Anne Raeff, Counterpoint
The Son of Good Fortune, Lysley Tenorio, Ecco/HarperCollins

Try to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place, Joan Frank, University of New Mexico Press
Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays, Megan Harlan, The University of Georgia Press
Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose, Kay Ryan, Grove Press
Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, Rebecca Solnit, Viking
Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism, Elizabeth Tallent, Harper

Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa, Marilyn Chase, Chronicle Books
Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy, Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, W.W. Norton
The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas, Obi Kaufmann, Heyday
American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, Graywolf Press
Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism, Lawrence Rosenthal, The New Press

California Translation in Poetry

Plagios/Plagiarisms, Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon, translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy Morales, from the Spanish, Sixteen Rivers Press
Etudes: A Rilke Recital, Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Art Beck, from the German, Shanti Arts Publishing
My Village: Selected Poems 1972-2014, Wu Sheng, translated by John Balcom, from the Chinese, Zephyr Press
California Translation in Prose

Heaven and Earth, Paolo Giordano, translated by Anne Milano Appel, from the Italian, Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Surrender, Ray Loriga, translated by Carolina De Robertis, from the Spanish, Mariner Books
Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories, Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine, from the Spanish, Seven Stories Press
Savage Kiss, Roberto Saviano, translated by Antony Shugaar, from the Italian, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Nine Moons, Gabriela Wiener, translated by Jessica Powell, from the Spanish, Restless Books

Children’s Literature: Younger Readers

The Good Song, Alexandria Giardino, illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan, Cameron Kids
You Matter, Christian Robinson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A Book for Escargot, Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers
Children’s Literature: Middle Grade
Orphan Eleven, Gennifer Choldenko, Wendy Lamb Books
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, Kate O’Shaughnessy, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Land of the Cranes, Aida Salazar, Scholastic Press
Children’s Literature: Young Adult

We Are Not Free, Traci Chee, HMH Books for Young Readers
Dark and Deepest Red, Anna-Marie McLemore, Feiwel & Friends
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Candlewick


Two Poem by Amy Trussell for July

Amy TrussellA Cauldron of Crows

Why the steady rain
pelted like salt in a wound,
I don’t know.
Except at night, when we were safe
under blankets; then it felt like
olives raining down wanting to
be cured to nourish us,
by gentler means than lye.
Leslie Oliver lamented how it stirred
A “slow river of grief” that runs through her.
The bells of the Bodega Church tower
below Joy Road tolled for no one
except an overflowing cauldron of crows
descending through a film of fog.
Once, just before a wedding there,
I lit a sputtering indulgence in the foyer
because my father had died
and I was still harboring a deluge.
The wedding packed a punch
but after a while the marriage was on the rocks.
Eventually Northern Lights, across the street,
was listed “non-essential” and shuttered.
That was the surf shop where the Guinness
Book of World Records going for most days
in a row surfing used to buy his surf wax.
We sold our thin wetsuits back to them,
not having enough fat to hack
the Artic current
that ran through spring into summer.
“Never turn your back on the ocean!”
the Point Reyes radio station begged us.
Sleeper waves, riptides, and Sirens
can grab you by the ankles
and drag you in.
I keep turning over the hanged man card
in these candlelit spreads.
To baffle meant to hang by one foot
hoping to induce visions.
Hermit, hold out your lantern.
We may be walking closer to the edge
of a sea cliff than we know.

Head Afire, Waters Breaking

Feeling empty as a gourd after days of smoke
and ungulates running across the roads
nearly getting hit by rescue trucks.
Roughing out a new plan on old paper,
sticking a hand into the reserve tank of letters
while turning my head in the other direction
into the jade of what’s still here–
like the bamboo garden and the rose geranium
Melody brought us in better times before
“civilization” took a rapid decline.
Straining for the sounds in the ethers
clairaudients hear that issue from
certain lauded places like the Mayácamas
mountains, in a kind of woven geometry.
Fire and hurricane lashed over opposing coasts
simultaneously leaving us crestfallen.
Also the battle of the elements in the head–
defensible spaces and charred offerings of each history.
So many questions in the remains.
How can a fire jump over a major artery out of here?
We implore those lightning bolts that started one fire
to fold back into the clouds forever.
And that the idea of fireworks at a gender reveal
is dropped like a wet blanket.
A gravid woman could break her waters
over that kind of excitement.
We’re on the lookout for high winds in the west
and on the Doppler radar in the deep south.
And attach to the thrill seeking fools
trying to drive a ram beneath the storm eye.
We wish all survivors auspicious materials to rebuild
and calm waters in which to wash their feet.
To see the breeching whales or leaping fish.
Calves soothed by crenellating seaweed
in the primordial soup.

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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