Posted by: wordrunner | October 31, 2022

November 2022

Dear Literary Folk,

As I write this, late on October 30, there’s an autumn chill in the night air; the waxing crescent moon is setting in the west; and the owls are calling to each other across Sunnyslope hollow where I live here in Petaluma. November 1st in the Celtic tradition is Samhain, a festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or darker half of the year. The veil between the worlds is thin at this and the other cross-season days, so a good time to remember those who have left us. In the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican traditions, November first and second are All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, also special occasions for honoring the dead. In many Latin American countries, and especially in Mexico, the two days are part of the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Many of us have our own altars or places of remembrance, and we all have those whom we are especially missing this year.

John JohnsonSonoma County has a rich tradition of celebrating El Día de los Muertos, including an annual candlelight procession in downtown Petaluma, which this year was held on Saturday, October 29. In years past, we’ve also held a county-wide Poesía del Recuerdo/Poetry of Remembrance Community Reading. Because of Covid, the in-person reading has been on hold, though we hope very much to bring it back in 2024. Two years ago, poet John Johnson (photographed by Sande Anfang at the Petaluma procession) created a virtual Poesía del Recuerdo website, which you are invited to visit: There you will find poems, photos, videos, and some history of the Calaveras Literarias poetic tradition, as well as a personal narrative of how Petaluma’s poetry celebration came to be. Click on “videos” to see our Sonoma County poet laureate, Elizabeth Herron, introduce Poetry of Remembrance/Poesía del Recuerdo 2022 with “Samhain” and other poems. Our past poet laureate, Phyllis Meshulam, recorded her poems of remembrance in 2021, and you can listen to these as well. If you are inspired to leave a comment or add your own poem of remembrance, click on “contact.”

And in coordination with the celebrations in Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, and Petaluma, the Petaluma Arts Center invites you to view the final days of an exhibit called “Honoring Life: Love and Remembrance,” curated by Irma Vega Bijou. The exhibit uses the artmaking process to address how different cultures or community groups remember those who have passed away. This diverse set of voices, reflected in the participating groups, as well as PAC Artist Members, will honor loved ones with a celebration of life. The thread uniting these groups focuses on using artistic ritual as a healing process. The exhibit closes on Saturday, November 5. The Petaluma Art Center is open Friday and Saturday, noon to 4:00PM, and is located at 230 Lakeville Street, Petaluma.

Remembering m. a. rasmussen
M.A. RasmussenIn September, the Sonoma County literary community lost a dear member: poet, musician, traveler, and photographer, Mary Ann Rasmussen, known to her friends and family as m.a. (always lower case). More often than not, m.a. was on the other side of the camera, but in this photo, you can see her inimitable smile, which she was quick and easy to share with all. In her obituary, published Sunday in the Press Democrat, her family described her as “a dynamic and creative soul . . . admired for her intelligence, boundless curiosity, and love of learning. And she could be counted on for her irreverent sense of humor.” In past years, she was a regular at poetry events throughout the county, especially the annual New Year’s Poetry Brunch my husband and I hosted at our home. She will be deeply missed. Scroll down to the end of this post to read one of her poems.

November Events:

What an amazing month ahead for readings and literary events! So many now are in-person; others still offer the zoom option, which we’ve come to appreciate. Here are just a few I’m spotlighting, but many more a listed in the November calendar.

Also, please take a moment to see the list of Sonoma County authors with new books to celebrate. You’ll find this on the Sonoma County in Print page.

If you have a new books we haven’t announced yet, or individual poems, stories, essays, and reviews, please send the details along to us at

Writing for Recovery with Susan Bono
Thursdays, November 3 and 17
, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Susan Bono shares writing tips at Writing for Recovery. Free on Zoom. Writing For Recovery
: For more information contact Norma Jaeger:

Dana Levin, Dean Rader, and Iris Dunkle
Thursday, November 3
, 6:00 p.m. A Poetry Reading with Dana Levin, Dean Rader, and Iris Jamahl Dunkle, at Reader’s Books, 130 East Napa St., Sonoma. Details:

The Art of Translation
On Sunday, November 6, Dominican University and Sixteen Rivers Press will host a reading and discussion with poets and translators Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Matthew Zapruder, Marjorie Agosín, Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman, Nancy J. Morales, and Terry Ehret. The event is free, but to make sure seating and refreshments accommodate our audience, please use this link to register with EventBrite:

Uncommon Ground—The Imaginists
On Saturday, November 12, 3-5 PM, The Imaginists will present an afternoon of readings, visual art, and live music created by leading Bay Area creatives. Featured writers include Avotcja, Lorraine Bonner, Charles Dixon, C.K. Itamura, Shizue Seigel, and Kimi Sugioka. Special guests include Sonoma County poet Ernesto Garay, Nicole Zimmerman, and Sachiko Kanebobu. The event will be held at 461 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa. Admission is free.

Isabelle Allende and Michael Krasny
Sunday, November 20,
5:00 p.m. Sebastopol Community Cultural Center presents Isabel Allende in conversation with Michael Krasny. SCCC, Main Hall, 390 Morris St, Sebastopol. Details/tickets:

Conversation with Ada Limón
The Santa Rosa JC’s Fall 2022 Arts & Lectures series will culminate with a conversation with Ada Limón, the 24th, and current U.S. Poet Laureate, on Tuesday, November 22 at 12 pm. On stage in the Studio Theatre in the Santa Rosa campus’s newly renovated Luther Burbank Auditorium, the discussion will be simulcast to the Petaluma campus and available as a webinar to those unable to attend in person. A native of Sonoma, Limón has authored six books of poetry, teaches at Queens University of Charlotte, and hosts The Slowdown, a critically acclaimed podcast devoted to poetry. Her book The Carrying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2018, just three years after her book Bright Dead Things was a finalist for the same prize. On July 12, the Library of Congress announced her appointment as the nation’s 2022-2023 Poet Laureate. In the announcement, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said, “Ada Limón is a poet who connects. Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with. They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward.” Visit
Arts and Lectures website for more information, and for links to both upcoming webinars and previously recorded events in the archives.

Jamie Hendrix and John McDermott Pay Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
Tuesday, November 22
, 7:00 p.m. Copperfield’s Books welcomes Janie Hendrix and John McDermott for a virtual conversation about her beautiful new book – Jimi. JIMI is the ultimate tribute to the greatest guitar player in rock and roll history, celebrating what would have been Jimi Hendrix’s 80th birthday on November 27, 2022. The discussion will be followed by a Q&A. This is a free event. Details

Chester Arnold and Bart Schneider—The Daily Feast
Wednesday, November 30, 6:00 p.m. Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in Sonoma. Painter Chester Arnold and poet Bart Schneider read from their recently published book, The Daily Feast.

The Daily Feast is the fruit of a joyous collaboration between two old friends, painter Chester Arnold and poet Bart Schneider. In the midst of the pandemic, unable to eat at their usual lunch spot in Sonoma, they decided to make a book entirely based on food and drink. Arnold brings his wit and old master fidelity to droll paintings of TV dinners, oysters on the half shell, and pineapple upside cake. Schneider’s odes to garlic, gefilte fish, and Green Goddess Dressing are both personal and imaginative. The series of conversations across disciplines becomes a double memoir of eating.

California Poets in the Schools Seeks New Poet-Teachers
So many of the poets you read and admire have taught as poet-teachers with California Poets in the Schools (CalPoets): Sonoma County Poets Laureate Phyllis Meshulam, Mike Tuggle, Iris Dunkle, Gwynn O’Gara, Maya Khosla; local luminaries like Jane Hirshfield, Sande Anfang, Penelope La Montagne, Arthur Dawson, Maureen Hurley, Meg Hammill, Jackie Huss Hallerberg, and many more.

If you think you might like the opportunity to inspire young poets, CalPoets seeks independent contractors to work in Sonoma County. CalPoets’ Poet-Teachers are professional writers who choose to share their skills and knowledge with their communities as Poet-Teachers. They should have demonstrated experience in the literary arts and be passionate about teaching school-aged youth in public school settings. New CalPoets’ Poet-Teachers are paired with experienced mentors to prepare for classroom placement. This is a great opportunity for poets at all stages of their careers. Find out more about CalPoets on the Sonoma County News page of the Literary Update.


Poem for November

[selection of segments from “Traces”]
by m.a. rasmussen

rocks stop still

waters cease

weather is no more

no city rings

as bells are peeled

of all their sound

and clouds compound

white hen clouds

plow the sky

furrows of blue

displace grey

on each side

time moves in

concentric circles

natural rhythms



there are no wants in trees

and hardly any buts or hurts

heart wood and clear heart

nary a saw of sighs


does wood cry as

nails pierce her flesh

can she recall

her treeness when all

the world was green


autumn browns give way

after rain to soft white fungus

winter’s velvet pillow


slanted trees

yellow leaves

asphalt path frames all


does the blind cat see

the wren hop along the fence

in is mind’s ear


is the disparity among

sacred, scared and scarred

more than an orthographic act


the sanderlings return

surge in and out

flow like feathered water

a mechanical wave of black & white


when the fruit is ripe

I will pluck it from the tree

make you tasty jam


Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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