Posted by: wordrunner | April 1, 2023

April 2023

Dear Literary Folk,

Remembering Sher Christian
Sher ChristianJohn Christian wrote to say “I’m sorry to let you all know that my sweetie, Sher, passed away peacefully [last] Saturday afternoon. She had kidney disease and there were late stage complications that led to her declining health. We had 34+ years together and I’m very grateful for the life we shared.”

We all know Sher as the co-host of the long-running literary open mics and music series. She was a passionate member of our literary community. When John has any news about a celebration of Sher’s life, I’ll pass this along in an upcoming Literary Update

Thank You to All Our Literary Hosts
Losing Sher got me thinking about all the members of our literary community who have hosted open mics, reading series, podcasts, etc., and who have helped nurture us all by providing a safe and supportive venue to share our writing.

I think of Fran Claggett-Holland and her Why Poetry project, and Katharine Hastings’s WordTermple Series, which is still vibrant as an online blog, now that Katherine has moved to New York. Then there is Ed Coletti, who hosted SoCoCo and Poetry Azul literary readings, and currently runs a new series at Café Frida. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion gave us the 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Susan Lamont hosted a series and open mic at Gaia’s Garden. Sande Anfang has been hosting the Rivertown Poets at Aqus Café and online during the pandemic. It’s now both live and in hybrid format, and available via streaming on YouTube and at KPCA.FM. Leena Prasad has been hosting “Poets Wanted” on second Sundays. Steve Trennam runs the Poetic License series through Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Dave Pokorny hosts Westside Stories at Sonoma Valley Portworks in Petaluma. Melissa Carr at the Ukiah Library has been curating the LOBA series for many years. Marlene Cullen guides many writers from their first inklings and notes all the way to publication through The Write Spot workshops and readings, as well as the Petaluma Forum events. Our current and past poets laureate all hosted many readings during their tenures, and Elizabeth Herron’s Being Brave workshops and readings are a brilliant example of this. Check out her Poet Laureate News page on the Literary Update for details.

Putting together a reading or hosting a reading series involves a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes effort, as well as poise and flexibility as the reading is under way. I, too, have hosted many readings, literary events, and a reading/workshop series at SRJC, so I know they don’t just “happen.”

Listing everyone who’s had a hand in reading series would take several pages. Fortunately, Jo-Anne Rosen keeps a special page on our website with ongoing series and open mics listed by day. There’s something happening every day of the week! She also puts together the monthly calendar of readings, workshops, and events. Please visit these two pages to get a fuller picture of the literary arts in Sonoma County.

You are all my heroes for all you do and have done to bring our community together through the written and spoken word.


Sixteen Rivers Book Launch at Book Passage in Corte Madera April 2

Songbirds of the Nine Rivers, All Tomorrow's Train RidesPlease join us for a very special reading on Sunday, April 2 at 4pm at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte, Madera, CA. This is the book launch for our newly published authors, Joe Zaccaradi and Matt Monte. They will be joined by Barbara Swift Brauer, twice published by Sixteen Rivers.

In his afterword to Songbirds of the Nine Rivers, Joseph Zaccardi recounts how, during his time as a corpsman in the Vietnam War, he found refuge in a volume of ancient Chinese and Vietnamese poetry. This study, now lifelong, has borne fruit in his present volume of poetry.

Matt Monte’s All Tomorrow’s Train Rides is an odyssey of reading and poetic memory. What begins
as a single day in a worker’s commute morphs into a Möbius loop of literary history and cultural consciousness.

Barbara Swift Brauer’s Rain Like a Thief offers observations of the natural world that serve as a description of the poems themselves. Through lyrically precise and visually evocative language, they allow us see those familiar old containers—pain and loss, love and death—in new ways.

The View from Here: A Celebration of Our Writers April 4
On Tuesday, April 4, 3:30-5:30 PM, The SRJC English Department presents a reading featuring Eric Atkinson, Abby Bogomolny, Claire Drucker, Alfonso Gaitan, and Erica Tom—all members of the faculty at Santa Rosa Junior College. This reading series has been on hiatus during the Covid years, but returns now to Doyle Library 4th Floor Quiet Reading Room, 4520. It is free and open to the public. Parking permits are required.

Newly Translated Poems by González de León at Blue Light at the Gallery on April 7
On Friday, April 7, 6:00 pm, Diane Frank of Blue Light Press and the host of Blue Light at at the Gallery will feature the poetry of Ulalume González de León and her translators: Terry Ehret and Nancy Morales from Sixteen Rivers Press

Nancy and Terry will debut poems from the upcoming third volume of Plagios/Plagiarisms. They’ll discuss their translation process and read some of their own original work.
This will be a virtual event—no need to brave the Friday evening traffic! Just zoom in from the comfort of home. (Note: John Johnson and Terry Ehret will also be reading some of González de León’s poems from volume three at the Freedom of New Beginnings reading on Saturday, April 8. See the notice below.)

RSVP to to get the Zoom link.

Ulalume González de León (1928-2009) was born in Uruguay and became a Mexican citizen in 1948. In the 1960’s and 70’s, she was an inspirational leader of a generation of women writers experimenting with language. Her poetry earned her many awards, including the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, the Flower of Laura Poetry Prize in 1979 from the Center for International Studies, and the Alfonso X Prize. Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz called her “the best Mexicana poet since Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,” recognizing the visionary quality of her work. She also translated the work of H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes, Lewis Carroll, and e.e. cummings.

Come Dance with Onye and the Messengers and Celebrate the Freedom of New Beginnings!
Onye and Messengers, Freedom of New BeginningsThe Sebastopol Community Center hosts an extraordinary evening of poetry and music, featuring current and past Poets Laureate along with contributors to the anthology The Freedom of New Beginnings. Readers include Phyllis Meshulam, Gwynn O’Gara, Bill Vartnaw, Maya Khosla, Terry Ehret, Elizabeth Herron, Gail King, and more!

Saturday, April 8
Doors 4 pm, Event begins at 4:30 pm
General Admission: $15
Students:$5 (students of all ages!) Children 10 & under free!
Click the link for more information and to purchase your tickets today!

Celebrating Fran Claggett-Holland April 15
Here’s our chance to honor one of Sonoma County’s literary treasures, Fran Claggett-Holland. The event will take place on Saturday, April 15, at 1:00 pm at the Finley Center, 2060 West College Avenue in Santa Rosa.
Celebrate Fran Claggett Holland

Napa Valley Writer’s Conference Deadline April 17
Napa Valley Writers ConferenceThere’s still time to apply to the 2023 Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, if you haven’t already!

Applications are open until April 17! The 2023 conference will take place from Sunday, July 30, to Friday, August 4, on the Napa campus of Napa Valley College.

Apply to the Conference! Applications will close on Monday, April 17. Please read our new admissions policy for returning applicants.

April 27 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day for National Poetry Month
One of the many projects the Academy of American Poets has sponsored over the years is the Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day. Poem in Your Pocket Day takes place every year on a day in National Poetry Month. Poem in Your Pocket Day 2023 will take place on April 27.

Ways to Participate
It’s easy to participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day from a safe distance. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:
* Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem. 
* Print a poem from the
Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space, or use the instructions on pages 57–58 of the PDF to make an origami swan. 
* Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use. 
* Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
* Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
* Add a poem to your email footer.
*Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space. 

Discover more ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in the classroom, or at home or online!

Our current Sonoma County Poet Laureate Elizabeth Herron has some recommendations for this year. From the email stream of one of the Being Brave Poetry Workshops:

Let the walls soften & crumble
Let light in, let love in
An explosion of opera pink!

A torch to light the way 
Carrying the empty bowl
To the life spring

These and other short poems gleaned from longer poems written in my Being Brave Poetry Workshops are perfect Pocket Poems to distribute on April 27th, official Poem in Your Pocket Day, part of April’s National Poetry Month.

Wishing you well.
With gratitude,
Elizabeth Herron

Orchard Street Press Call for Submissions Deadline April 30
This March-April, The Orchard Street Press is conducting its sixth annual Poetry Contest: $500 first prize, $300 second, $200 third. Prize-winning and other submitted poems will appear in Quiet Diamonds, our annual poetry journal, and select entrants will be invited to submit chapbooks for possible publication. This year, we are publishing 10 chapbooks from entrants to the 2022 Contest. We expect to publish a similar number from the ‘23 Contest.

Entrants should submit poems and the $15 fee to: The Orchard Street Press; P.O. Box 280, Gates Mills, Ohio 44040. Entries can also be submitted via our website,

Submission details: Submit up to four original, unpublished poems (no translations and no single poem longer than two pages). Poems should be typed and should not include the poet’s name on the page. The poet should also send a cover letter (listing the poems and the poet’s contact information–including phone and email) and a SASE for results.

Deadline for submissions is April 30 (postmark).
The Orchard Street Press,
Visit for details

Poem for April
I recently watched a very fine documentary about the life and work of poet Ruth Stone. It’s called Ruth Stone’s Vast Library of the Female Mind and it aired on PBS last week. You can find out more at this link: Here is a poem by Ruth Stone for April.

Ruth StoneAlways on the Train
Ruth Stone1915-2011

Writing poems about writing poems
is like rolling bales of hay in Texas.
Nothing but the horizon to stop you.
But consider the railroad’s edge of metal trash;
bird perches, miles of telephone wires.
What is so innocent as grazing cattle?
If you think about it, it turns into words.
Trash is so cheerful; flying up
like grasshoppers in front of the reaper.
The dust devil whirls it aloft; bronze candy wrappers,
squares of clear plastic—windows on a house of air.
Below the weedy edge in last year’s mat,
red and silver beer cans.
In bits blown equally everywhere,
the gaiety of flying paper
and the black high flung patterns of flocking birds.

From This Art: Poems on Poetry edited by Michael Wiegers. Copyright © 2003 by Ruth Stone.


Terry Ehret, Co-Editor
Sonoma County Literary Update


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