Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2021

November 2021

Dear literary folk,

Since last month’s post, we’ve had rain, glorious rain! As I write this, the wind is whipping the rainy air, stripping the trees of their autumn leaves. I’m so grateful for this weather and for the new growth of grass on our hillsides—something I don’t remember seeing this early in the year.

Poetry of Remembrance/Poesia del Recuerdo Community Reading
Day of the DeadThanks to those of you who were able to join us on zoom for our virtual Poetry of Remembrance/Poesia del Requerdo Community Reading last Thursday. It was surprisingly moving and intimate, despite the zoom format and the tendency of the new version to mute everyone. We had 45 attending.

In addition to the twenty poets and hosts who read their remembrances of the dead, the program included a traditional call to the directions and virtual smudging by co-host Jabez Churchill; poems by children read by co-hosts Phyllis Meshulam and Sande Anfang; Jabez’s telling of the story of “La Llarona” and his performance of the song; and a musical performance by Revolt. Midway through the event, we had a slideshow of altars and celebrations of Day of the Dead, put together by co-host John Johnson and narrated by Margaret Tilden, who joined us from Mexico.

Though we celebrate Día de los Muertos during the month of October, traditionally, the celebrations are held on November 1 and 2. You can still participate in this by sending a poem, photograph, or video to our Poetry of Remembrance/Poesia del Requerdo website:

The Petaluma Arts Center is currently curating an exhibit on the theme Amor Nunca Muere/Love Never Dies, and they will be hosting a special closing celebration on Tuesday, November 2, 3-7 PM.

NaMoWriMo: November is National Novel Writing Month.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a novel or getting back to work on a novel you’ve shelved, consider connecting with NaNoWriMo. This is a nonprofit organization which believes in the transformational power of creativity, providing the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page. It’s a teaching tool and curriculum taught in 5,920 classrooms. This month not the right time for you? No problem! NaNoWriMo’s programs run year-round. More information at:

Ella WenCongratulations to Sonoma County’s New Youth Poet Laureate!
Ella Wen, a sophomore at Maria Carillo High School, was recently selected to be Sonoma County’s next Youth Poet Laureate. Check out Phyllis Meshulam’s Poet Laureate News for details about Ella:

Sixteen Rivers Reading, Fall Benefit, and Call for Manuscripts
Dane Cervine and Stella BeratlisTwo events are coming up this week featuring past and present member-authors of Sixteen Rivers Press. The first of these is on Monday, November 1, 6:15-8:15 p.m. Rivertown Poets features Dane Cervine and Stella Beratlis, followed by open mic (3 minutes per reader, 20 readers max). Sign up at Choose “Aqus Poetry Open Mic” and fill in the form. Join directly at:

The second event is on Sunday, November 7th, 3:00 PST, when Sixteen Rivers Press will host its Annual Benefit Reading on ZOOM. This year we will do another version of the very successful event two years ago, in which Sixteen Rivers poets each read a selection from their work published by the Press. This gives a rich sense of what Sixteen Rivers has accomplished over two decades, and more confirmation of the diversity of poetic voices here in Northern California. Among the many readers are several from Sonoma County: Lynn Trombetta, Maya Khosla, and Terry Ehret. Please join us if you can. Registration is through Eventbrite: or you can access it via our website:

November 1 is also the official opening of Sixteen Rivers’ manuscript submission period, which continues until February 1.We especially encourage poets of color, young poets, and LGBTQ writers to submit. If you have a book-length manuscript and are interested in a cooperatively run publishing company, check out our submission guidelines on our website:


Poem for November

Mark DotyThe Owner of the Night
by Mark Doty

interrogates whoever walks
this shadow-lane, this hour
not reserved for you: who

are you to enter it?
Orion’s head over heels
above the road, jewel-belt

flinting starlight
to fuel two eyes looking
down from the air:

beacons in reverse,
since light pours in
toward her appetite

until she wings her noiseless outline
between our rooftop and the stars,
over this door and all the doors

hidden in the grass:
dreaming voles,

firefly province,

wasps in the palace
they’ve hollowed under the hill.

Mole resting his face against his splayed hands.

Perch, blink. Pose
the evening’s question
to the sleepless

while the moon if there is one
scatters islands
on a field of ink. Who

maps this? The owner
of the night looks down
to mirror and admit the hours

before the upper vaults
begin to lighten and recede.
Did you hear what I said,

a face looks down from the night?
Did who hear me? Who
reads this page, who writes it?

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Doty. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About This Poem
“I spend about half my time in the city, in a built landscape where one knows the name of just about everything; in this way it’s a city of language, a world mediated by words. The rest of the time I live in a place where sky and weather, plants and animals are as present as sidewalks and vehicles are in town. My inner process of narrating experience in words slows down there, even vanishes for moments at a time; then I’m just raking, or weeding, or looking at the sky not supplying words for what I see. Thus it’s startling, at twilight, or deep in the night, when the dark itself seems to say a word: who. It seems the right question, the one the owl asks; as Stevens said of the harbor lights in Key West, that sound arranges, deepens, and enchants the night.”
—Mark Doty


Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update co-editor


%d bloggers like this: