County News Archive


The Update welcomes announcements of interest to the Sonoma County literary community. Send text only (no attachments or PDFs please) by noon on the last day of the month to: No workshops, classes or readings, please. (Those are posted on the calendar or workshops pages.)

Who Will Be Sonoma County’s 10th Poet Laureate?

Deadline for nominations: November 7, 2017

Nominations are now open for Sonoma County’s 10th Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate is a Sonoma County resident, whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence, who has produced a critically acclaimed body of work, and who has demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts in Sonoma County. The Poet Laureate often participates in official ceremonies and readings. The Sonoma County Poet Laureate serves for two years (2018-2019).

The Poet Laureate Selection Committee is made up of representatives from each of the five County Supervisory Districts, and from Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma County Library, and Sebastopol Center for the Arts, the Literary Arts Guild and the previous poets laureate. Each member of this panel has demonstrated knowledge of and an active commitment to, the life of poetry in our county.

The Selection Committee is pleased to announce that starting this year, the Poet Laureate will be awarded a $1,000 stipend in addition to his or her title.

The new Poet Laureate will be announced in December, 2017

Consistent with tradition, the Sonoma County Poet Laureate will not have a formal job description but will be encouraged to develop an agenda promoting poetry and the literary arts in Sonoma County. Organizers of various community events in Sonoma County may invite the poet laureate to participate in their events.

Please download the submission requirements and application form from the Center for the Arts’ website at

For more information contact Cynthi Stefenoni at or call the Sebastopol Center for the Arts at 707-829-4797.

WTAW Press Inaugural Chapbooks

WTAW Press has published its inaugural chapbooks, February 8, 2017. All four limited edition chapbooks are available on the website at Interviews with chapbook authors Jenny Wu and Amelie Prusik may be read at WTAW Press has also announced its first full-length titles to be published September 8, 2017. Submissions will open for the 2017 reading period on June 15. To learn more about WTAW Press and stay up on current developments, sign up for the newsletter at WTAW Press is a 501(c)nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, the publishing arm of Why There Are Words, a national neighborhood of reading series founded in 2010 in Sausalito with branches in New York City, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Austin, and Portland (with more to come in 2018).

A Message for Sonoma County Poets and Writers

Poet Christopher Soto is researching the life of Sonoma poet Paul Mariah. He’s been working with the Poetry Foundation and they have created a page for Paul’s bio. Some of you may remember Paul as a gentle, kind and energetic soul who often read at the Russian River Writer’s Guild in Sebastopol. He was generous with advice and support. Paul created one of the first gay presses, Manroot, in the 70s. Christopher is also in process of finding a home for Mariah’s work, and has possibly found one at Brown University.

Any of you who have any of Paul Mariah’s works, or if you have any reminiscences, or any other information that might add to the archive at Brown or the Poetry Foundation page, please do contact Christopher at

Littoral Press Poetry Prize

Sonoma County poet Carol Ciavonne’s poem “The Bird Life” has won the Littoral Press Poetry Prize, judged by Troy Jollimore. Suzanne Maxson of Sebastopol received an honorable mention for her poem “Movement.” The prize is 50 broadsides by Lisa Rappoport, a book artist and letterpress printer who has sponsored this contest for nine years.

Sonoma County author places 2nd in EVVY Literary Contest

Charles Markee’s middle grade novel Maria’s Beads just took 2nd place as a junior fiction category book in the prestigious Colorado Independent Publisher’s Association (CIPA), 22nd annual EVVY literary contest. See EVVY is a nickname for Evelyn Kaye, the woman who founded CIPA.

Juniper Prize awarded to Sonoma County author Joan Frank

University of Massachusetts Press’ Juniper Prize for the Novel has been awarded to Sonoma County author Joan Frank for her novel All the News I Need. Joan Frank is the author of five books of fiction and a book of collected essays. Her novel Make It Stay won the Dana Portfolio Award. Her story collection, In Envy Country, won the Richard Sullivan Prize, the Gold ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, and was named a finalist for the California Book Award. Frank’s essay collection, Because You Have To: A Writing Life, won the Silver ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award.

Sonoma County Poet Honored

Donna Emerson will read her winning poem “First Day of Kindergarten and Eleven Years Later,” on February 6th at the annual Allen Ginsburg 2015 awards ceremony at the Poetry Center in Paterson, New Jersey.

Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Contest

On February 15, 2016, the 10th annual Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud competition took place at the elegant Glaser Center in Santa Rosa. POL is a nationwide poetry recitation program for high school students. It’s implemented first at the classroom level, then school-wide, county-wide, state-wide contests take place. It works much like a spelling bee, and winners eventually progress to the Nationals and compete with other champions from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Melissa Lozano of Rancho Cotate HighEvery year our county-wide contest becomes more expert and competitive. This year’s winner is Melissa Lozano of Rancho Cotate High. There was actually a tie for first place in terms of raw scores. When that occurs, we look at the “overall performance” score. Shea Dorrell of Piner High School came in just one point behind, using that metric. Our third place winner was Arthur Timpe of El Molino and fourth was Victoria Ward of Maria Carrillo.

By the time this goes to press, the statewide competition will have already taken place. But if you would like a taste of this rich experience, consider coming to Word Temple on March 26. Dana Gioia, our new California Poet Laureate and founder of POL during his leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts, will be presenting, accompanied by two of our county finalists!

The schools involved this year are: Analy, Casa Grande, Creekside, El Molino, Elsie Allen, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Piner, Rancho Cotate, Rincon Valley Christian, Roseland Collegiate Prep, Roseland University Prep, Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy and Tech High.

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