Posted by: wordrunner | April 1, 2022

April 2022

Dear literary folk,

In March, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I spotlighted the work of Ukranian-American poet Ilya Kaminski and Ukranian Yulia Musakovska, an award winning poet from Lviv. Looking back to my post from a year ago, April, 2021, I see I devoted a section of the Literary Update to the great Ukranian poet, Adam Zagajewsky, who passed away in March of that year. Given the continuing crisis for the Ukranian people in their struggle against Russian aggression, this seems an appropriate time to remember Zagajewsky’s life and work.

Adam ZagajewskiZagajewski was born in 1945 in Lwów, Soviet Union (now Lviv, Ukraine). He lived in Paris from 1982 to 2002 when he moved to Kraków. Zagajewski’s books of poetry in English include Tremor (1985), Canvas (1991), Mysticism for Beginners (1997); and Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002).He is also the author of a memoir, Another Beauty (2000) and the prose collections, Two Cities (1995) and Solitude and Solidarity (1990).

The reviewer Joachim T. Baer noted in World Literature Today that Zagajewski’s themes “are the night, dreams, history and time, infinity and eternity, silence and death.” About his own poetry, Zagajewski said this:

“I will never be someone who writes only about bird song, although I admire birdsong highly – but not enough to withdraw from the historical world, for the historical world is fascinating. What really interests me is the interweaving of the historical and cosmic world. The cosmic world is unmoving – or rather, it moves to a completely different rhythm. I shall never know how these worlds coexist. They are in conflict yet they complement each other – and that merits our reflection.”
In September 2001, his response to the tragedies of 9/11, “Try To Praise the Mutilated World,” became for many of us an anthem for the work of our lives. The poem was written on September 17 and first published in the New Yorker on September 24, 2001.

Try To Praise the Mutilated World
by Adam Zagajewski

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes

and returns.

April is National Poetry Month
. . . and the Academy of American Poets has some terrific suggestions for how to celebrate.

Thirty Ways to Celebrate National Poetry MonthCheck out 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month online and at home, including 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in the classroom, find online poetry events on our Poetry Near You calendar, add your own, and more. 

Thanks to Ed Coletti and Café Frida Gallery
It’s been a long time since the Sonoma County literary community came together for a live event. If we don’t get hit by another surge, we may begin to see more live events on the literary calendar as we move into spring and summer. On a windy, overcast Sunday, Sonoma County poet Ed Coletti gathered 9 poets to read at Café Frida Gallery in Santa Rosa. Bass player Steve Shain provided accompaniment, and miraculously the predicted rain waited until the reading was over. It was such fun! Café Frida Gallery is a wonderful reading space with outdoor stage and covered seating. Ed plans another reading in two months on May 29th.

Poetry in Action 2022:

A Youth Poetry Reading and Conversation on Equity and Compassion
We’re ready to start “recruiting” teens to read at the open mic! We need your help to spread the word to teens!!
Please forward, post, and share widely announcement with any youth you think would be interested in participating, with schools, teachers, poets, and/or anyone who will help us spread the word. A snapshot of the information is included below. Poets do not need to live in Sonoma County to participate.
This is a Sonoma County United In Kindness event, in cooperation with AAPI Coalition of the North Bay.
AAPI Coalition of the North Bay – Home | Facebook
Ella WenHosted by: Ella Wen, 2021 – 2022 Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate
When: Saturday, April 23, 5:00 – 6:00pm – a Zoom event
Who: Teens, age 13 – 19
What: This event will include a live open mic; providing an opportunity to read an original poem, or one written by any poet of choice. Limited to two poems or up to two minutes. “Family friendly” language poems please. Closed video will be an option; signed parent authorization required for ages 13 – 17 (the form is attached)
Topic/Suggested prompts: What do you want to say about equity and compassion? What do equity and compassion mean to you? How have you experienced them in your life? How do you practice them in your life? What power do they have in our world? How do they relate to tolerance, diversity, unity, social justice, kindness, and equality? Say it through the power of poetry!!
Email to sign up. A practice session will be scheduled prior to the event – date to be announced.
Incentives: A cash/gift card prize and Certificate of Participation for anyone who reads during open mic.
Why: United In Kindness hopes to provide a supportive forum and public platform, designed and hosted by and for Sonoma County youth, ages 13–19, to write, present, and have conversation about the topics of equity and compassion, through the art of poetry, with a focus on the practice, experience, meaning of, reflection upon, and/or power of equity and compassion — on a human scale, in the US, and in their day-to-day lives. To include the topics of inclusion, tolerance, unity, social justice, kindness, and equality. To engage youth in a conversation of equity and compassion…through the power of poetry. In celebration of April – National Poetry month.
Thank you again for helping us spread the word! Remember…deadline to sign up for open mic is MONDAY, APRIL 4.
On behalf of the United in Kindness Poetry in Action committee,
Liz Larew
Reverberations Two: A Visual Conversation
April 9 to May 15
Ekphrastic poetry is poetry inspired by a work of art. In 2018, Sebastopol Center for the Arts premiered “Reverberations: A Visual Conversation,” an exhibition in which poetry was written in response to pieces of artwork.

Reverberations:two A Visual Conversation reverses this dynamic, asking artists to create a piece of artwork in response to poems. Each artist in the exhibit was given a different poem to respond to.

To be honest, we weren’t quite sure it was going to work. Would it be possible for artists to work with a never-before-seen poem and create new work in the limited time of few months? To our astonishment, more than 200 visual artists responded to our open call, from which 50 were selected. The poets were selected by poet Charlie Pendergast, who encouraged us to do this second Reverberations show.

The resulting collaboration between poetry and visual arts is the focus of Reverberations:two, which will be showing at Sebastopol Center for the Arts from April 9 to May 15.

You are invited to the opening reception: April 9, 2-4 p.m.

We have created a beautiful companion book (above, right) for the exhibition, which will be available at the SebARTS gallery shop.


Diane FrankPoetry, Music, and the Language of the Spirit with Diane Frank
Saturday, April 16, 1:00 p.m. Redwood Writers Club presents Diane Frank on “Poetry, Music, and the Language of Spirit.” Author and poet Diane Frank will share ideas about poetry as the language of the soul, virtuoso editing techniques, and how to write poems inspired by music. This speaker event is part of Redwood Writers monthly general meeting, and will be held in person at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa or online via Zoom. Register at

Last Call for Nominations for the Next Sonoma County Poet Laureate
Deadline: April 15, 2022
Nominations are open for Sonoma County’s 12th Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate is a Sonoma County resident who has demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts in the County. The Poet Laureate often participates in official ceremonies and readings and receives a $2,000 stipend payable in yearly $1,000 increments.

Nominations for Poet Laureate require that the poet be a resident of Sonoma County whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence and who has produced a critically acclaimed body of work. The nominee must also have demonstrated an active commitment to the literary arts in Sonoma County, must propose and perform a project of their own creation, and must agree to participate in official ceremonies and poetry events.

Please direct any questions to

Sixteen Rivers Press Announces its 2022 Publications

Beyond the Time of Words Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume TwoBeyond the Time of Words / Más allá del tiempo de las palabras, poems by Marjorie Agosín, with translations and foreword by Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman

Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume II, poems by Ulalume González de León, a bilingual edition, with a foreword by Mary Crow. Translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy J. Morales

Subscribers who order our April releases each year are given a special subscription rate, which includes shipping, handling, and tax. The 2022 subscription rate for both books is $38 (a savings of more than $10). Books will be shipped after the April 2 publication date.

The first reading from Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume Two, will be on Tuesday, April 12 @ 7:00 p. m. PDT via ZOOM. The reading is hosted by Stella Beratlis and the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. It will feature the poetry of Mexican poet Ulalume González de León read by translators Terry Ehret & Nancy J. Morales with guest poet-translator William O’Daly
RSVP required: 

An Evening with Andrei Codrescu, Thursday, May 5th, 2022 
Andrei CodrescuOccidental Center for the Arts’ Literary Series is thrilled to present star of page, screen, and NPR, Andre Codrescu on Thursday, May 5th, 2022 @ 7:00 p.m. Location: 3850 Doris Murphy Way, Occidental, CA.

A poem by Andrei Codrescu in a limited handset letterpress broadside edition of 100, designed and printed at Sonoma County’s own North Bay Letterpress Arts will be available to ticketholders at the event.(an exclusive signed & letter A-Z letterpress edition will also be available)
Tickets $25 GA/ $20 for OCA Members

Two Poems for National Poetry Month

In my craft or sullen art
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1939 by New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Marjorie AgostinMás allá del tiempo de las palabras
by Marjorie Agosín

Más allá del tiempo y las palabras
La bruma disipando las formas,
Crepitando entre los umbrales,
Siempre la niebla hechicera,
Invitada inoportuna y a destiempo.
El pasar de un tiempo sin tiempo,
Un silencio sin ecos.
El terror a los espejos y a nosotros,
Viajamos entre las sombras
Y la confianza de lo conocido
Que es lo desconocido.
Más allá del tiempo y las palabras
En el reverso de la escritura muda,
Asombros. La vida en sí.
En la claridad fugitiva del ocaso:
Una mujer dando a luz.

Beyond the Time of Words
Translated by Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman

Beyond the time of words
The mist dissolves forms,
Curling between the thresholds
Like an ill-timed and
Unwelcome sorceress.
The passage of time without time,
A silence without echoes.
Dreading mirrors and ourselves,
We travel among the shadows
And a trust of the known
That is unknown.
Beyond time and words
On the other side of silence,
A universe of astonishment. Life itself.
In the fugitive clarity of twilight:
A woman giving birth.

From Beyond the Time of Words / Más allá del tiempo de las palabras.
Copyright © 2022 by Sixteen Rivers Press.


Terry Ehret, Literary Update Co-Editor


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