Posted by: wordrunner | October 1, 2021

October 2021

Dear Literary Folk,

I have just returned from a road trip to Colorado where the aspens are in their autumn glory. Here in Petaluma, the air has a crisp feel in the mornings and evenings, but we’re also still in the midst of fire season, as well as the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 marks the second autumn without some of the literary events that have brought us together for years, especially the beloved Petaluma Poetry Walk and the Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading.

On Sunday, September 19, Bill Vartnaw hosted a virtual Poetry Walk, bringing together poets and friends of Geri DiGiorno to celebrate her life, her visual art, and her poetry. It was lovely to remember Geri’s sassy, generous, and unconventional approach to living, writing, collaging, painting, and embracing the world. Thanks to Bill and Bridget Reymond for organizing this tribute to a great Sonoma County poet.

El Día de los Muertos Returns for 2021
The Petaluma Arts Center is curating an exhibit on the theme Amor Nunca Muere/Love Never Dies, which runs from October 9-30. An artists’ reception is scheduled for Saturday, October 9, 6-8 PM, and a special closing celebration on Tuesday, November 2, 3-7 PM.

Poesίa del Recuerdo/
Poetry of Remembrance Website

Those who wish to honor the memory of someone who has died are also welcome to send a poem, comment, favorite memory, photograph, video, audio, to our website called “Poetry of Remembrance/Poesía del recuerdo:
The website is hosted by John Johnson.

Join Us for a Virtual Poesίa del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading on Thursday, October 28, 7:00- 8:30 P.M.
Come enjoy an evening of friendship as members of the community gather virtually to read poems in honor and remembrance of special people in our lives. Hosts for the evening are John Johnson, Sande Anfang, Phyllis Meshulam, Jabez Churchill, and Terry Ehret. If you are interested in attending or sharing a poem, please contact Terry Ehret to sign up at You will receive the zoom link at that time.

dancing skeletons
“La poesía…es la resurrección de las presencias”
“Poetry…is the resurrection of presences”
– Octavio Paz

The Petaluma Día de los Muertos Committee has put together a calendar of events to keep this important tradition going through our second year of the pandemic. For more information, visit Facebook page at

Black and White in Black and White: Ekphrastic Poetry Reading October 1

The Petaluma Historical Library & Museum is hosting a virtual exhibit of photographs by John Johnson, an African American photographer from Lincoln, Nebraska, whose work portrays the dignity, hope, and diversity in America. The exhibit is available online through November 6.

On Friday, October 1, 7:00 p.m. The Petaluma Museum is hosting an ekphrastic poetry reading and slide show featuring the winners of the recent poetry contest for its new online exhibit, Black & White in Black and White. The reading will be on Zoom. The public is welcome to attend, though there will not be an open mic. Zoom Link:

Marlene Cullen Offers Free Jumpstart Writing Sessions
Marlene CullenIf you’re looking for an inspirational way to get back into your writing rhythms, discover new wellsprings of creativity, or break out of familiar habits, check out the Writers Forum series starting on Saturday, October 2, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Writers Forum hosts four afternoons of writing on the Zoom platform with Marlene Cullen, who will lead these free writing sessions, using prompts from The Write Spot to Jumpstart Your Writing: Discoveries. Registration is required. Details on the October Calendar page.

Lit Quake Returns In-Person and Online October 7-23.
Litquake 2021 offers 80+ Events, 300 authors, Online & In-Person. Many events are free, including KidQuake and Lit Crawl. Lit Quake is a ten-day literary spectacle for booklovers, complete with cutting-edge panel discussions, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings. See Fest Schedule:

Reawakening American Democracy
Never was it more urgent for us to consider the fragility of our democracy, as well as the efficacy of youth-led resistance movements from Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock to March for Our Lives, the Global Climate Strikes and #MeToo.

On Sunday, October 17,
4:00 p.m., Occidental Center for the Arts hosts a book launch for Michael Levin, author of Generation Occupy: Reawakening American Democracy. On the ten-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, Levin examines how this movement marked a new era of social and political transformation, altering the way Americans see themselves and their role in the economy through the language of the 99 versus the 1 percent.
Details at  

Connections: A Benefit for California Poets in the Schools October 21
Five local poets bring you a live evening of poetry: Sandra Anfang, Kirsten Avilla, Ernie Carpenter, Hilary Moore and Larry Robinson, with music by John Christian.The event will be held at Sebastopol Center for the Arts from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Donations at the door. Net proceeds to benefit California Poets in the Schools. Attendees must be vaccinated; check website for mask requirements.

Rebecca Solnit at Point Reyes Books on October 30
Rebecca Solnit Acclaimed essayist and memorist Rebecca Solnit, winner of the Northern California Book Award in Nonfiction for Recollections of My Nonexistence, will discuss her new book, Orwell’s Roses, a reexamination of George Orwell’s life and writings through the lens of his passion for gardening, in conversation with artist and writer Jenny Odell. For details and to purchase tickets, click here:
Poem for October
In the many years since Marlene Cullen and the Poet Laureate Committee helped me launch the Sonoma County Literary Update, and in the years that Jo-Anne Rosen has kept this rangy animal going strong, I’ve concluded each post with a poem, sometimes by local writers, sometimes by contemporary poets, often reaching across borders or back to our literary roots.

By request, for October, I am offering this poem of my own, first composed two years ago.

Waking in Fire Season

Remember when you awaken to be still.
Whatever dream you have been wearing
in the dark body of sleep
still lies near, a deep fold
of pleasure, a sleeve of old trouble,
a name on a grave. Leave the dream-clothes
under your skin that now you wash
and lotion and paint. Dress slowly for the day
just dawning in the smoky east. Remember
from time to time to touch the prayer fringe
of dream-fragments as you walk
down the path under the falling sycamore leaves.
Remember the sound they make
rattling all night in the wind.

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update Co-Editor


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