Posted by: wordrunner | July 1, 2022

July 2022

Dear Literary Folk,

Poet Laureate Reception on Saturday, July 30, 4-6 p.m.
Phyllis Meshulam and Elizabeth HerronLast month’s post introduced you to our new Sonoma County Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Herron. The Sebastopol Center for the Arts invites you all to SebArts for a reception and reading to honor the outgoing PL Phyllis Meshulam for her extraordinary tenure, to introduce you all to Elizabeth, and to welcome her to her new position. We will also acknowledge the three outstanding finalists Sande Anfang, Ed Coletti, and Dave Seter.

Date and Time: Saturday, July 30, 4-6 p.m.
: 282 S. High Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472 (map)
Light refreshments and beverages will be served. Books by past and current poets laureate will be available for sale. The event is free to the public.

To learn more about Elizabeth and her proposed project, check the Poet Laureate News page of the Literary Update.

Petaluma Arts Center Call For Poetry
Petaluma Arts Center logoPetaluma Arts Center is currently seeking poetry by Sonoma County writers on food and memory in tandem with an exhibit opening on August 11 called Agri-CULTURED: Reflections on our Local Food Community by Land and by Hand.

Deadline August 1

Theme: Food and Memory
All forms of poetry accepted
Line limit: one page or 48 lines (including spaces between stanzas)
One submission per person
12 pt font; Times New Roman
Online submission. Upload Word doc or PDF
Previously published work acceptable, with proper acknowledgment

Writing submissions juried by Elizabeth Herron, Poet Laureate of Sonoma County
To read these submission guidelines online, use this link:

Opening reception Thursday, August 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
To submit your work, please complete
this form and upload your poetry
For more information, contact 1-707-762-5600 or e-mail

“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are” Brillat-Savarin 
Agri-CULTURED explores cross-cultural intersections of food and farming in our region. The project brings together food producers, purveyors, and artists who work locally and align with global concerns of sustainable practice and cultural memory. It not only bridges art, science, and agriculture but also engages the spheres of hospitality, tourism, and the economy of Sonoma County. 
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from Creative Sonoma.

Susan Bono at Writers Forum
On Thursday, July 7, 6:00 pm to 8:00 p.m. Writers Forum presents Susan Bono: Ready, Set, Pivot! Free Zoom workshop for anyone who wants to write in a freestyle of writing. For details about registration, click on this link:

Workshop Description: Personal narratives are documents of change. They always contain a “before” and “after.” This is really useful to remember when building our stories. In our time together, we’ll explore this concept and experiment with some structures that create natural pivots or shift points.

Susan brings wry humor, gentle guidance, and ever-evolving wisdom to the teaching of memoir and personal essay. A California-born teacher, freelance editor, and short-form memoirist, Susan has facilitated writing workshops since 1993, helping hundreds of writers find and develop their voices. She often writes about domestic life set in her small town of Petaluma. Susan is the author of What Have We Here: Essays About Keeping House and Finding Home.

San Francisco Writers Conference
Thursday, July 21–Sunday, July 24. The 18th annual San Francisco Writers Conference. 100+ Presenters (including 20 literary agents!), 80+ sessions, lectures and classes over the FOUR day weekend, the SFWC Poetry Summit and the Writing for Hollywood Summit sessions. See Conference page for details or:

Napa Valley Writers’ Conference
When writers local, national, and international gather for the annual Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the creative energy is electric. Those of us who aren’t able to attend this year are welcome to join the conference attendees and presenters for craft lectures and readings. Here’s the list of these. Events are at Napa Valley College, 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway, Napa. Most events are $20 or $25 at the door, $15 for students with ID. A few events are free. Details can be found on the calendar page and online at this link:

Monday, July 25, 9:00 a.m. Patricia Smith will give a talk about poetry.
Monday, July 25, 1:30 p.m. Michelle Huneven will give a talk about fiction titled “The Work of Imagination.”
Monday, July 25, 3:00 p.m. Forrest Gander will give a talk about translation titled “The Rich Rewards of Translation.”
Monday, July 25, 4:30 p.m. Author Caroline Goodwin will discuss the works of Jane Hirshfield and Kevin Brockmeier in a free seminar.
Monday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. Poet Jane Hirshfield and fiction writer Kevin Brockmeier will read following a half-hour wine reception.
Tuesday, July 26, 9:00 a.m. Dana Levin will give a talk about poetry titled “House of Feels: Image & Transformation.”
Tuesday, July 26, 1:30 p.m. ZZ Packer will give a talk about writing fiction titled “Advanced Narrative Techniques.”
Tuesday, July 26, 4:30 p.m. Author Caroline Goodwin will discuss the works of Major Jackson and Lan Samantha Chang in a free seminar.
Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. Poet Major Jackson and fiction writer Lan Samantha Chang will read following a half-hour wine reception.
Wednesday, July 27, 9:00 a.m.  Jane Hirshfield will give a talk about poetry.
Wednesday, July 27, 1:30 p.m. Kevin Brockmeier will give a talk about writing fiction titled “An Animal Within to Give Its Blessing: On the Value of Nonhuman Creatures in Fiction.”

Wednesday, July 27, 4:30 p.m. Author Caroline Goodwin will discuss the works of Patricia Smith and Michele Huneven in a free seminar.
Wednesday, July 27, 5:30 p.m. Poet Patricia Smith and fiction writer Michele Huneven will read following a half-hour wine reception.
Thursday, July 28, 9:00 a.m:  Major Jackson will give a talk about poetry titled “Our Disenfranchised Sublime: Symmetry as Aesthetic Value in Poetry.”
Thursday, July 28, 1:30 p.m. Lan Samantha Chang will give a talk about writing fiction titled “The Muddled Middle.”
Thursday, July 28, 4:30 p.m. Special Guest Lynne Thompson will give a talk titled “On Literary Citizenship: Reflections from the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles” in a free seminar.
Thursday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. On the closing night of the conference, Forrest Gander will read poetry and translation and conference participants will present their best works.

The Freedom of New Beginnings Book Launch on Friday, August 26
Mark your calendars for the book launch of Phyllis Meshulam’s Poet Laureate Project: The Freedom of New Beginnings: Poems of Witness and Vision by Poets from Sonoma County. The anthology features poems by 74 poets responding to the three themes: Gratitude, Honoring Our Pain for the World, and Seeing with New Eyes. The title was inspired by a poem by Sonoma County Poet Laureate Emerita Katherine Hastings. Her poem appears at the end of the post.

Here is what Gwynn O’Gara has written about the anthology: “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.

Two Poems for July 2022

the lost baby poem
by Lucille Clifton

the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned

you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car       we would have made the thin
walk over genesee hill into the canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things

if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller

of seas        let black men call me stranger
always        for your never named sake

“the lost baby poem” from Good News About the Earth (1972)


Heron, Like Smoke
Katherine Hastings

In the sapphire sky of the valley
over the old arms of oaks
where white feathered clouds float
your blue-grey wings lift you
aloft in flight, appear as 
rising spirits slow-moving
to space. Your euphoric flight
is charged by new daylight
propels us into memory beyond fire
beyond the slog of escape
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

“Heron Like Smoke,” from A Different Beauty, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2022).


Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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