Posted by: wordrunner | January 2, 2023

January 2023

Dear Literary Folk,

Contrary to all the long-range weather forecasts for this winter, we’ve been blessed with several good drenchings and this current atmospheric river, filling creeks and rivers over their banks. Behind my house, Thompson Creek is singing and rising and rushing headlong toward the Petaluma River. Flooding from the rain has closed access to our cabin in the Sierra, and now snow is falling there, too. We’re staying safe at home this New Year’s Eve with a fire in the fireplace, supper and a movie with a friend.

I wish you all, my dear literary community, a safe New Year’s Day, however you celebrate it, and a creative year ahead.

Poems and Music for Social Justice/Earth Justice
whale engravingI saw many of you at the extraordinary evening of poetry and music on December 16 at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, called “In View of the Whale: Songs and Poems of Social Justice.” Special thanks to choir director John Maas for organizing this event, and for bringing us together alongside Joe Sances’ monumental 51 ft. long whale, embodying myriad historical images relating to social justice and environmental degradation. Sances’s Or the Whale will be on display at SCA until February 2. Don’t miss it!

Here’s a link to a Youtube video of the talk Sances gave about this art piece at SCA:

Two Central Valley Poets Read at Rivertown on Monday, January 9
Indigo MoorWilliam O'DalyRivertown Poets will gather virtually to celebrate the poetry of William O’Daly and Indigo Moor. You won’t want to miss this reading with two fine California poets, both with recent books. The reading starts promptly at 6:15. Open mic follows the features. The first twenty poets to sign up will read for up to three minutes apiece. Please sign up quickly; the list can fill in a few days. Email Sande Anfang at Zoom in to listen at

Peter Omer at Book Passage on Sunday, January 22
Book Passage presents Peter Orner in conversation with Tom Barbash at 4 pm. Featured book: Still No Word from You, a new collection of pieces on literature and life by the author of Am I Alone Here? Covering such well-known writers as Lorraine Hansberry, Primo Levi, and Marilynne Robinson, Orner’s highly personal take on literature alternates with his own true stories of loss and love, hope and despair. In person at the Corte Madera Store, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd. Details:

Poet Laureate Elizabeth Herron at OCA, Sunday, January 29
Occidental Center for the Arts Literary Series is thrilled to open the New Year with current Sonoma County Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Herron, as she continues her Being Brave Poetry Project with a reading of recent poems about courage and poems from In the Cities of Sleep, her newest collection (Fernwood 2023) centered on life in a warming world. The program starts at 2 PM. Free admission, Q&A, book sales and signing. OCA: 3850 Doris Murphy Way, Occidental. OCA’s facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. For more info: or 707-874-9392.

Calls for Submission
Sixteen Rivers Press Announces Call for ManuscriptsFrom November 1 2022 to February 1, 2023, Sixteen Rivers Press is open to submissions for full-length poetry manuscripts. The press is on a three-year production cycle. A manuscript accepted in this cycle would be published in April 2025. You can read the submission guidelines on the website at:

We hope you’ll consider sending us your work!

Call for Submissions for SCW’s Women Artists DatebookOne of my favorite publishers is the Syracuse Cultural Workers in New York state. I’ve promoted their work here before because it is rare to find a group so committed to the creative folk who move our collective vision forward, and so inclusive in their promotion of artists.

The deadline for submissions to their Women Artists Datebook is January 15, 2023. You can submit these at Guidelines are at:

Wordrunner eChapbooks’ annual themed anthology
Sonoma County-based Wordrunner seeks submissions to its next anthology, from January 1 to February 28, 2023. Online publication will be mid-April. 2023. The theme: Salvage or Salvaged (interpreted broadly, whatever can be rescued or saved from anything at all, be it relationships or ships at sea). More details and submittal link:

Poem for January
In the years before Covid, my husband and I hosted a New Year’s Poetry Brunch for over 20 years. Before we began reading our poems for the new year, I would ask everyone to write down on a slip of paper something they would like to let go of or to realize in the year ahead. These were burned in a smokeless blue flame. Thus we all inhaled each other’s invocations and carried them out into our lives. The ashes went into our garden at the spring planting. I miss this ritual, and so give you instead a poem about a similar New Year’s tradition.

Burning the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995.

Here is a short list of New Year’s poems to call on after the clock strikes midnight on December 31:

Classic Poems for the New Year

A Song for New Year’s Eve” by William Cullen Bryant
Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay…

 “The Old Year” by John Clare
The Old Year’s gone away…

 “Song for the New Year” by Eliza Cook
Old Time has turned another page…

In Tenebris” by Ford Madox Ford
All within is warm…

At the Entering of the New Year” by Thomas Hardy
Our songs went up and out the chimney…

 “The Passing of the Year” by Robert W. Service
My glass is filled, my pipe is lit…

In Memoriam [Ring out, wild bells]” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky…

The Year” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
What can be said in New Year rhymes…

Contemporary Poems for the New Year

 “A New Law” by Greg Delanty
Let there be a ban on every holiday…

 “For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet” by Joy Harjo
Put down that bag of potato chips…

I Want to Save This Whale” by Lisa Olstein
The one right in front of me…

Resolution” by Lia Purpura
There’s the thing I shouldn’t do…

 “Te Deum” by Charles Reznikoff
Not because of victories…

A House Called Tomorrow” by Alberto Ríos
You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen…

Elegy in Joy” by Muriel Rukeyser
We tell beginnings…

Duet” by Lisa Russ Spaar
Two sisters side by side…

See more at:

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update


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