Posted by: wordrunner | September 1, 2022

September 2022

Dear Literary Folk,

The Freedom of New Beginnnings Takes Flight
The Freedom of New BeginningsOn Friday, August 26, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts hosted a book launch for Phyllis Meshulam’s poet laureate project, The Freedom of New Beginnings: Poems of Witness and Vision for Sonoma County, California. The Red Hen Room at the Center was sparking with energy as poets and guests picked up their contributors’ copies, bought books, enjoyed the lovely summer evening with refreshments and conversation, then took their seats to hear Phyllis eloquently describe her vision for this anthology and to share her poem “Oh, Gulf,” followed by readings by fourteen of the book’s contributors.

If you missed this event, or just haven’t gotten enough of these poems, Aqus Café will be hosting a reading from the anthology as part of the Petaluma Poetry Walk on Sunday, September 18, 6-8 PM.

The readers at Aqus are listed here:
Jon Jackson
Sherrie Lovler
J.D. Langdon
Alexandra Ellen Appel
Maureen Hurley
Ella Wen
Steve Trenam
Rebecca Patrascu
Sandra Anfang
Bill Vartnaw
Jodi Hottel
Donna Emerson
Michael Scheffield
Phyllis Meshulam
Abby Bogolmony

If you’d like to order the book, you can send a check for $26.00 (covers the book, tax, shipping and handling) to Gail King at 20217 Alder Road, Monte Rio, CA 95462. Please make the check payable to Phyllis Meshulam.

The books will be available soon at the following locations:
Sebastopol Center for the Arts gift shop
, 282 High St, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, 138 N Main St, Sebastopol, CA 95472 ·
Readers’ Books in Sonoma, 130 East Napa St.,Sonoma, CA, 95476
Russian River Books and Letters,
14045 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446
Please support our local independent book stores!

41st Annual Northern California Book Awards on September 11
Erin RodoniNorthern California’s vibrant literary scene will be celebrated on Sunday, September 11, 2022, 2:00 pm, when the 41st annual Northern California Book Awards recognize the best published works of 2021 by Northern California authors and California translators state-wide, presented by the Northern California Book Reviewers, PoetryFlash, and San Francisco Public Library, with our community partners Mechanics’ Institute Library, Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, and PEN West. Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore & Gallery will be the in-person bookseller. Book sales and signing will take place in the lobby of Koret following the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public. Location: Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, Civic Center, San Francisco.

Amanda MooreAmong the nominees are these Northern California authors: Amanda Moore for Requeening and Erin Rodoni for And If the Woods Carry You, both in poetry; Michael Pollan for This Is Your Mind on Plants, and Rebeca Solnit for Orwell’s Roses, both in nonfiction. Isabelle Allende will receive the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service.

For a list of all the nominees and more details, visit

The Petaluma Poetry Walk Returns!
poetry walkOn Sunday, September 18, the Petaluma Poetry Walk returns after a two year hiatus due to Covid. This will be a very special Walk, honoring many of the poets who have been part of the event since its beginnings, including Poetry Walk founder Geri Digiorno whom we lost since the last time the Walk happened. There will be a celebration of her life and work with readings of Geri’s poems and a few poems about Geri from many of her friends and associates. This tribute to Geri will be at the Phoenix Theater at 4 PM.

Geri DigiornoHere’s a short list of some of the poets reading this year: Elizabeth Herron, Phyllis Meshulam, Dorianne Laux, Joe Millar, Bill Vartnaw, Avotcja, Joyce Jenkins, and many of the contributors to the anthology The Freedom of New Beginnings.

The complete roster of readers is available on the Poetry Walk website:

Sande Anfang Special Guest with Poetic License Sonoma
On Tuesday, September 27, 7:00-8:00 p.m. Poetic License Sonoma presents “Equinox” with special guest poet Sandra Anfang, via Zoom. Presenting poets: Kusum Irene Jain, Joseph Cutler, Susanne Arrhenius, Leo McCloskey, Steve Trenam, Judith Vaughn, Jaime Zukowski. Acting MC: Kusum Jain. Guest Student poet: Douglas Anderson. More details and registration:

The Satisfaction of Longing
Satisfaction of LongingIn addition to maintaining our Sonoma County Literary Update website and sending out the Update via e-mail each month (both Herculean tasks, if not downright Sisyphean!) Co-editor Jo-Anne Rosen is founder and editor of Wordrunner eChapbooks. Their 46th issue and 24th fiction collection is The Satisfaction of Longing by Victoria Melekian.

These emotionally rich and ethically complicated stories are suffused in longing and loss. The collection opens with the chance encounter of a woman and man who had once endured unbearable tragedy. A fatherless woman with an imprisoned husband has a mysterious benefactor. Two sisters conflict over what to do with their father’s ashes. In the final, thrilling story, a woman and her son flee her estranged husband, who never wanted children.

This collection may be read free online. But do consider purchasing an ebook edition (only $2.99) for your library or as a gift. Authors receive 50% of all royalties. It’s also a way to support our press. These are available on
Amazon or on Smashwords.

Mark Your Calendars for the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, Saturday, October 15, 2022
Enjoy the Strawberry Creek Walk at 10 AM, followed by an afternoon of Poetry, nature writers and speakers, music. Since 1998, this unique gathering of poets, nature writers and environmental activists has challenged people to pay attention to Strawberry Creek, which is tunneled beneath most of Berkeley. The Watershed project is the inspiration of former U. S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who along with Poetry Flash magazine started this annual celebration. Location: Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park, Berkeley. Check the October Literary Update for details, or visit:

Remembering Poet Dean Young
Dean YoungIn August, we lost a wonderful poet and teacher, the amazing Dean Young.

About Young, the Poetry Foundation says, “Young’s poetry is full of wild leaps of illogic, extravagant imagery, and mercurial shifts in tone. Using surrealist techniques like collage, Young’s poems often blur the boundaries between reality and imagination, creating a poetry that is enormously, almost disruptively, inclusive. . . . [S]peaking to the centrality of misunderstanding in his poetry, [Dean wrote],‘I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point.’”

Many knew Dean as an extraordinary generous and inspiring teacher. He taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and the University of Texas-Austin where he held the William Livingston Chair of Poetry.

I knew him as a friend of Sixteen Rivers Press. He served on our advisory board read at our annual benefit in 2015, the year he published his New and Selected Poems, titled Bender. To read more about Dean’s life and work, check this link to the Poetry Foundation:

I’ve selected two poem by Dean Young because I couldn’t decide which of these two best capture’s his unique voice and style. I hope you’ll love these as much as I do.

Delphiniums in a Window Box

Every sunrise, even strangers’ eyes.
Not necessarily swans, even crows,
even the evening fusillade of bats.
That place where the creek goes underground,
how many weeks before I see you again?
Stacks of books, every page, characters’
rages and poets’ strange contraptions
of syntax and song, every song
even when there isn’t one.
Every thistle, splinter, butterfly
over the drainage ditches. Every stray.
Did you see the meteor shower?
Did it feel like something swallowed?
Every question, conversation
even with almost nothing, cricket, cloud,
because of you I’m talking to crickets, clouds,
confiding in a cat. Everyone says,
Come to your senses, and I do, of you.
Every touch electric, every taste you,
every smell, even burning sugar, every
cry and laugh. Toothpicked samples
at the farmers’ market, every melon,
plum, I come undone, undone.

Published in the print edition of the May 18, 2009, issue of The New Yorker.
Copyright © 2011 Dean Young, Copper Canyon Press.

No Forgiveness Ode

The husband wants to be taken back
into the family after behaving terribly,
but nothing can be taken back,
not the leaves by the trees, the rain
by the clouds. You want to take back
the ugly thing you said, but some shrapnel
remains in the wound, some mud.
Night after night Tybalt’s stabbed
so the lovers are ground in mechanical
aftermath. Think of the gunk that never
comes off the roasting pan, the goofs
of a diamond cutter. But wasn’t it
electricity’s blunder into inert clay
that started this whole mess, the I-
echo in the head, a marriage begun
with a fender bender, a sneeze,
a mutation, a raid, an irrevocable
fuckup. So in the meantime: epoxy,
the dog barking at who knows what,
signals mixed up like a dumped-out tray
of printer’s type. Some piece of you
stays in me and I’ll never give it back.
The heart hoards its thorns
just as the rose profligates.
Just because you’ve had enough
doesn’t mean you wanted too much.

Published in the 2013 edition of The Best of the Best American Poetry.
from Bender: New and Selected Poems, Copper Canyon Press, 2015

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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