Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2022

May 2022

Dear Literary Folk,

(Note: With kind regards to the Literary Update’s technical creator and co-editor Jo-Anne Rosen, today’s Literary Update post will have no images/graphics. Our platform is WordPress, and they have made inserting images more difficult. We hope to resolve this problem in the future, but thank you for bearing with the text-only Update today).

Fishing for Fallen Light
I recently came across this beautiful verse by Pablo Neruda, from The Sea and the Bells, translated by poet William O’Daly:

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

In these times, that act of faith and trust in the “fallen light” of hope seems essential, though often unacknowledged. I think one could end each day by taking inventory, however slim it might be, of the “fallen light” we’ve found in the darkness. Maybe it’s a line or two from a favorite poem, a moment of beauty, a kindness directed our way. Rereading Dylan Thomas’s “In My Craft and Sullen Art” from April’s Update, every line seems to ring with a different clarity and truth, as if I’d never read it before, though I know the poem by heart. Finding this Neruda quote led me to the source and to William O’Daly, who is a new acquaintance and friend. Such serendipity! The poem in which this verse can be found is included at the end of today’s Update, along with the Spanish.

My husband Don and I have been involved the past few months in a program called Cool Blocks Challenge. Petaluma was one of three cities in California to receive a grant to organize and execute the program, which is aimed at reducing our carbon footprint, one neighborhood at a time. It’s a grassroots response to climate change, which gives us something concrete to do with our anxiety and distress. It is fueled by hope—a sustainable resource. As author Grace Paley often said, “Hope is action.” If you live in Petaluma, you should check out this website to see how you can get involved: And if you live anywhere else, you can see about starting such a program in your town.

One of the big take-aways from this program is how little we really know our immediate neighbors, and what a difference it makes to come together over our shared concerns. Another take-away is that we really aren’t as prepared for disaster as we think we are, and we could all be doing so much more to reduce consumption in general. Though not directly related to our writing and literary lives, this is what’s on my mind today. I think of all of you as my literary neighbors, and Sonoma County as my literary neighborhood. I’m proud of how we’ve always come together to support and celebrate each other in times of disaster and in times of success. Thank you all for being such an amazing community!

Phyllis Meshulam’s Poet Laureate Project The Freedom of New Beginnings
The past few months, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with our poet laureate Phyllis Meshulam on her project to produce an anthology of poems by Sonoma County poets. Through that, I’ve gotten to know many poets who are new to me, and familiar poets in new ways. If you’ve been following Phyllis’s Poet Laureate page on the Update, you know that the anthology revolves around three themes: “Gratitude,” “Honoring Our Pain for the World,” and “Seeing with New Eyes.” Its title, The Freedom of New Beginnings, was inspired by a poem by Katherine Hastings, which ends with these inspirational lines: “beyond the catastrophe of ash/ throbbing in the glass/of abandoned dreams/Light follows you, cuts a path//equal to the loss of the abandoned nest/equal to the freedom new beginnings bring.”

For me, the overarching emotional impact of reading the poems in this anthology many times over is hope. Here’s what Gwynn O’Gara wrote about this amazing book: A broken world needs poetry. Phyllis Meshulam, poet laureate of Sonoma County, California, invited poets to map the three stages of reconnection as conceived by Buddhist scholar and Rilke translator Joanna Macy. This anthology is a journey of witness and renewal in uncertain times.”

Huge thanks to Phyllis for her vision, and to those 74 poets who contributed their work! We hope to have the anthology available in July, so keep an eye on the Update, especially the Poet Laureate’s page, for news of the book launch and readings across the county.

National Recognition for Petaluma playwright David Templeton’s Galatea
Congratulations to local author and playwright David Templeton for Galatea, which has recently won a number of prestigious awards. Galatea is a four-actor play set in the distant future that centers on the relationship between a synthetic human named Seventy-One and her therapist, Dr. Mailer (Sindu Singh). When the play begins, Seventy-One has been found floating in deep space in a decaying space craft, the lone surviving crew member of the Galatea, a large human-transport ship that disappeared without a trace more than 100 years earlier.

Galatea debuted at Spreckels Theater in Rohnert Park in September 2021 and recently received an astonishing bevy of awards, including the 2022 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) New Play Award and Citations, and the following Excellence in Theatre Awards, just announced by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle:

Overall Production for the entire Bay Area
Overall Production for the North Bay
Original Script
Director — Marty Pistone
Principle Actor — Abbey Lee
Projection design — Chris Schloemp
Set Design — Eddy Hansen, Elizabeth Bazzano

There are two great features on David’s accomplishments, one in Petaluma 360, and the other in the Bohemian. Check out these links:

Napa Valley Writers’ Conference
Deadline to apply to the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference is Monday, May 2. Click here to apply to the Conference! The 2022 conference will take place from Sunday, July 24, to Friday, July 29, on the Napa campus of Napa Valley College. We offer workshops in poetry, fiction and translation. For more information about this years’ phenomenal faculty visit:

Three Reading Invitations
As you all know, I’ve been focusing much of my creative energy over the past decade on translating and publishing the poetry of Ulalume González de León. And I’m so pleased that I can celebrate the publication of volume two of Plagios/Plagiarisms this month with a reading with Ukiah Library’s Loba Series, which is now a virtual series, which makes getting to beautiful Ukiah easier. This will be on Thursday, May 26, at 7 PM. Here’s the link for details:

A second celebratory reading will be on Monday, June 6 at 6:15 PM, as part of Sande Anfang’s delightful Rivertown Poets Series. Whether this will be live or online is still up in the air. Location will be announced in June’s Literary Update, and by Sande as well.

The third invitation is to a reading of my own poetry, Tuesday, May 24, 7 PM, on the theme of relationships. The reading is hosted by Poetic License Sonoma and includes guest student poet from SRJC: Joan Osterman. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link which will be emailed to you prior to event. Please note, there is a nominal charge of $5.00. Details and registration:

Other May Events Coming Up
(Note: Be sure to check the April Calendar of Events for the full list of readings, performances, workshops, and open mics across Sonoma County and beyond. The following are just a tasty sample.)

Nature and Writing Walk with Patti Trimble: Sunday, May 15
, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Summer Writing Walk on Sonoma State University’s Galbreath Wildlands Preserve in southern Mendocino County, just twenty miles northwest of Cloverdale. Use your sensory perception in this natural environment and translating those experiences to the page through poetry. Details and registration:

Haiku in Ukiah:
Calling all haiku (and palindrome) enthusiasts! Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 15, 2:00-4:00 PM, for the Ukiah Haiku Festival, a 20th Anniversary Retrospective, hosted by poet laureate Melissa Eleftherion Carr and past poet laureate Michael Riedell. Open mic follows readings selected by the laureates (signups at 2 p.m.). At Grace Hudson Museum Wild Gardens, Ukiah:

Jonah Raskin’a New Novel Beat Blues, San Francisco, 1955 : Sunday May 15, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
at Readers Books, 130 E. Napa Street, Sonoma. Contact Readers Books, 707.939.1779,

Sonoma County Poets at Café Frida Gallery:
With thanks to Ed Coletti, another wonderful array of Sonoma County poets will present on Sunday, May 29, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Café Friday is located at 300 A St. Participants include Phyllis Meshalum, Larry Robinson, Vilma Ginzberg, David Seter, Marvin Hiemstra, Brian Martens, Ed Coletti, and Steve Shain on bass. ​Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to get parked, seated, coffeed and snacked, and out of respect for the poets who are reading. We are all hungry to share our work in public once again! Come one, Come all, and bring guests!

Reverberations Two: A Visual Conversation Exhibition runs through 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. ReverberationsTwo: 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. The exhibition is really stunning. I hope you’ll get a chance to drop by the gallery at SCA in the next two weeks. Check here for gallery hours: Thursday – Sunday, 10 am – 4 PM. Check this link for details:


Poem for May: “Here/Aquí”
by Pablo Neruda, translated by William O’Daly


I came here to count the bells
that live upon the surface of the sea,
that sound over the sea,
within the sea.
So, here I live.

If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.


Me vine aquí a contar las campanas
que viven en el mar,
que suenan en el mar,
dentro del mar.
Por eso vivo aquí.

Si cade día cae
dentro de cade noche
hay un pozo
donde la claridad está encerrada.

Hay que sentarse a la orilla
del pozo de la sombra
y pescar de la sombra
y pescar luz caída
con paciencia.

From The Sea and the Bells, Copper Canyon Press, 1988


Terry Ehret, Literary Update Co-Editor


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