Posted by: wordrunner | May 1, 2016

May 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

Still Time to Catch the Bard!
Shakespeare's Twelfth NightI hope you had a chance this past month to enjoy the many local readings, workshops, and performances in our literary community. It was quite a feast of riches! My own personal favorite was SRJC Theater Arts Production of Twelfth Night with an all-male cast. The transformation of Burbank Auditorium into the Black Friar’s Theater, the young men in corsets, Elizabethan dress, and make-up, the jugglers and musicians, and the double-mind bending experience of watching a young man pretend to be a woman pretending to be a man—all of this was delightfully executed. I’ve seen many productions of Shakespeare, but never with an all-male cast, and this production is a hoot! Twelfth Night plays for one more weekend, May 5, 6, 7 at 8:00 PM;  May 7, 8 at 2:00 PM. And here’s the link to order tickets online: http://theatrearts.santarosa.edu/buy-tickets-online.

Spotlight on Gaia’s Garden
Gaia's Garden interiorLocated at 1899 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa, bordering the SRJC campus, Gaia’s Garden (formerly Govinda’s) is an international vegetarian buffet that has become one of our liveliest venues for musical and literary events. If you’ve followed the Update’s posts and calendar, you know that Gaia’s Garden has hosted the 100 Thousand Poets for Change readings, coordinated by Susan Lamont and friends. Many of you have participated in these. Last March, following the death of Pete Seeger, the venue hosted a tribute sing-along with Dan Imhoff and Cahoots, which was lots of fun.

What you may not know are the many other ways Gaia’s Garden supports local authors and our literary community. For example, the Garden display and sells signed copies of books which appeal to a range of interests – fiction, non-fiction, technical, memoirs, fantasy, children’s books, etc. The collection is organized and distributed by Jeane Slone.

Every other month, Gaia’s Garden offers a “Dine With the Authors Night.” Five or six different authors attend for conversation over a meal, then each reads briefly (5 minutes).  In this salon setting, you can find out more about a specific writer and his or her process and become inspired by the cumulative creativity of the group. Reservations are suggested (with dinner purchase only), and you may request a specific author’s table if you wish.

The Very Veggie Book Club meets at Gaia’s Garden every Tuesday evening from 6-7 for a discussion and social hour with co-hosts Sheryl L. and Paul S. You can just show up—no reservations needed. For more information, you can call Paul at (707) 535-6539.

If you’ve never been, treat yourself to an evening at one of the upcoming May events. On Monday, May 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m. you can dine with local authors Lenore Hirsch, My Leash On Life (pet memoir); Sandra Lee Dennis, PhD, Love And The Mystery of Betrayal (psychology); Inga Aksamit, Highs And Lows On The John Muir Trail (non-fiction memoir); Dan Murdock, Mini Storage Stories (short stories); Arletta Dawdy, Rose of Sharon (historical fiction). For reservations: info@jeaneslone.com or 544-2491. Minimum $5.00 food purchase. Or, if you can’t make that event, on Saturday, May 28, 2:00-4:00 p.m., the Redwood Writers hosts an Open Mic as well as featured author readings with Juanita Martin and Mary Lynn Archibald.

May’s Literary Calendar is brimming with events. Here are two others that caught my attention:

Saturday, May 14, 7:00 p.m. Copperfield’s presents local journalist and Pulitzer Prize Finalist William Carlsen, whose book Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya recounts the arduous journeys of lawyer John Lloyd Stephens and architect/artist Frederick Catherwood into the jungles of Central America on a quest to uncover and understand the lost history of the Maya. At Copperfield’s, 138 N. Main Street, Sebastopol.

Sunday, May 22, 2:00-4:30 p.m. Flight of Poets: Wine and poetry have always made a delicious duet. At this special Sonoma edition of Flight of Poets, happening in the Old Redwood Barn at the Gunlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St. Sonoma, internationally renowned sommelier Christopher Sawyer pairs four talented poets with four exquisite wines, carefully selected to illuminate their work. Readings by: Hollie Hardy, Ada Limón, Dean Rader, and Tess Taylor. $20 entry fee includes reading and a flight of four tastes. Must be 21+.

Celebrating Local Author’s Books
The Literary Update has a directory of Sonoma County authors, and when a writer has a new book out, the directory provides a great place to feature that, along with a link to where the book can be purchased. But we don’t do book reviews. It might be interesting to add that as a special feature or blog, and if any of you are interested in this, please contact me or Jo-Anne Rosen at sonomacountyliteraryupdate@gmail.com.

Recently, we received a review of our new Poet Laureate Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, written by Juanita J. Martin. Jo-Anne and I thought we’d present Juanita’s review as a guest writer’s “featurette” on this post, recognizing Iris’s poetry and her work in the community.

You can hear Iris Dunkle read her work, along with Patti Trimble, on Monday, May 2, 6:15 p.m. at the Aqus Café in Petaluma, and again on Saturday, May 7, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Sitting Room, 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove. Details about both these events are on our calendar page.


There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air
—A Book Review by Juanita J. Martin

There's a Ghost in This Machine of Air. Iris Jamahl DunkleI am haunted, elevated, and enriched by the historical tapestry woven by Sonoma County native, Iris Jamahl Dunkle. She brings the past of Sonoma County alive to this non-native. I can appreciate its weightiness.

In her poetry book, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, she melds historical facts with wet and raw piercings of detailed language and imagery. Such a poem is “A language is a Map of our Failures,” where she talks about the change of the landscape by time and the advancement of society. The first line reads: “At first, the land was covered in thick redwoods, their dizzying tops spindled the wool of low fog.” In the third stanza, line three reads: “No fear drifted on the slack winds, even though this was the day when change would begin to rise, ash-like, into the air, catching and burning in the branches of the tall trees.”

In the poem “The Lesson of Mud and Potatoes,” Iris talks about the stage coach rides from the docks of Petaluma River to the potato mines of Bodega. She speaks of potato blight, winter runs, a barge too full that sunk and where her rusty hull might lie on the muddy roads of history.

In the first stanza, Iris wrote: “What a citizen wants is to peel back history that shields a place: a single story that survives record. Time offers its own flood—washes out roads of thought no matter how deep the ruts run.”

In “Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Sebastopol, CA,” Iris writes about the soil that houses the dead famers is the soil the farmers used to plant and plow. I like how Iris compares and contrast the living with the dead. She describes the “arthritic trees” which are almost dead, bring joy to the living and the dead by bearing fruit after years of neglect. She writes in the last two lines: “The air pulses with the pink confetti of apple blossoms and joy rains down onto graves.”

In “Air,” Iris’ sense of place flows with conviction, depth, and power like a punch. As you absorb the nuances, you move with her through each period of time, holding onto each moment with curiosity, tissue for the tears, and the aftermath of brilliant poetic dissection.


Poem for May
Rebecca FoustIn honor of Mother’s Day, here is a poem by Marin poet, Rebecca Foust, author of Paradise Drive (Press 53, 2015).

Abeyance
by Rebecca Foust

                               letter to my transgender daughter

I made soup tonight, with cabbage, chard
and thyme picked outside our back door.
For this moment the room is warm and light,
and I can presume you safe somewhere.
I know the night lives inside you. I know grave,
sad errors were made, dividing you, and hiding
you from you inside. I know a girl like you
was knifed last week, another set aflame.
I know I lack the words, or all the words I say
are wrong. I know I’ll call and you won’t answer,
and still I’ll call. I want to tell you
you were loved with all I had, recklessly,
and with abandon, loved the way the cabbage
in my garden near-inverts itself, splayed
to catch each last ray of sun. And how
the feeling furling-in only makes the heart
more dense and green. Tonight it seems like
something one could bear.

Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall
equals all I feel, and I remember all the words.

Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Foust.
Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 25, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.


Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | April 2, 2016

April 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

It’s April, and our recent bounty of rain has blessed Sonoma County with a green and blossoming spring. The hills, vineyards, orchards, creeks and rivers are all brimming with color, water, and frog choruses.

AWP National Conference

Once again, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference coincides with the first-of-the-month post for the Literary Update. Among the many featured presenters are Claudia Rankine, Elizabeth Alexander, W.S. Di Piero, Naomi Shihab Nye, Judy Grahn, Juan Felipe Herrera, Joyce Carol Oates, and D.A. Powell. Since the conference this year is in LA, lots of local folk will be attending, and I hope to see many of you there. I’ll send an addendum to the post once I’m there, and Jo-Anne will bring you up to date with her announcements before this post finds its way to you.

More News from Terry at the AWP conference:
2016-04AWPphotoThe 17th annual gathering of the writers is underway in downtown LA. Sonoma and Marin counties are well-represented with Dana Gioia, Greg Mahrer, Iris Dunkle, Gwynn O’Gara, Kathleen Winter, Patti Trimble, Jodi Hottel, Phyllis Meshulam, Jean Heglund, Erin Rodoni, John Johnson and myself (Terry Ehret). There may be more locals I haven’t yet run into, but with 12,000+ poets, novelists, memoirists, playwrights, translators, publishers, academics and wandering bards, we may only have time to wave across the convention lobby or the book fair aisles.

As one presenter reminded us, April is not only National Poetry Month,but also Alcohol Awareness Month, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. Any connection may be purely coincidental.

April is National Poetry Month
Keep an eye out for ways to celebrate this. Here are a few of these from our calendar page, where you’ll find more details and many more events throughout the month.

Saturday, April 2, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Second Annual Sonoma County Local Author Showcase and Symposium at the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library, co-sponsored by Creative Sonoma.

Thursday, April 7, 7:00-9:30 p.m. California Quarterly is sponsoring an evening of poetry, featuring readings by poets whose poems have appeared in recent CQs. The public is invited. Sausalito City Hall/Library, 420 Litho Street, Sausalito.

Sunday, April 10, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Salon on Adrienne Rich at the Sitting Room in Penngrove. Barbara McCaffry and Susan Miller lead a session on Adrienne Rich in honor of National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April  14, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series presents “Rhyme or Reason,” featuring the following acclaimed authors: Amanda Conran, Stefan Kiesbye, Allie Marini, Nayomi Munaweera, Barbara Roether, Kathleen Winter, Katie M. Zeigler. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.; readings begin at 7:15. $10.

Sunday, April 24, 2:00 p.m. Fourteenth Annual ukiaHaiku Festival. At SPACE Theatre, Ukiah.

Saturday, April 30, 1:30-3:30 p.m. On Independent Bookstore Day, Meet & Greet Jo-Anne Rosen, author of What They Don’t Know: Selected Fiction. At Copperfields Books, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma. More information on the book: www.joannerosen.us

NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April. Learn more at: http://www.napowrimo.net/about/

April Celebration of Shakespeare
twelfth-nightApril 23, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. To honor him, SRJC’s Theater Arts Department is presenting a saucy “Shakespeare Cabaret” and one of his most popular comedies, Twelfth Night. You will be transported back to Elizabethan England with this traditionally-staged production—re-creating the custom of male actors playing women. Huzzah!

“Shakespeare Cabaret” will be performed at Newman Auditorium on Mon April 4, 2016 at 5:30 and 8 PM General $15. Students & Seniors $10. Recommended for ages 10 and above.

Twelfth Night performances: April 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, May 5, 6, 7 at 8:00 PM; April 24, 30, May 7, 8 at 2:00 PM. A special 3:00 PM performance is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 as part of SRJC’s Day Under the Oaks.

This production features professional musicians playing Elizabethan music on period instruments, including the lute, hurdygurdy, krumhorn and sackbut.

There will also be an after-play discussion on Sunday, April 24th. Members of the artistic staff and cast will be hosting the discussion surrounding the play, Shakespeare’s world and this “original practices” production. To order tickets online, here’s the link: http://theatrearts.santarosa.edu/buy-tickets-online

Poem for April
IrishRepublic1916-2016April 2016 is also the 100th anniversary of the Irish Easter Uprising. Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly through the crowded streets of Dublin on Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and fired the country’s flame of independence. The uprising was commemorated in poetry by W.B. Yeats, whose “Easter 1916” is our poem for April.

Easter 1916
wb-yeats-gettyW. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute to minute they live;
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse —
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | March 1, 2016

March 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

I’m taking advantage of “leap day” to prepare this post for March, wishing that this were a National Holiday—one when everyone, even those in retail, would have the day off to do whatever joyful thing they wanted. Like the old April Fool’s tradition, or the notion of Sabbath, it seems a very useful concept: a day when we take a break from our own restless pursuits to pause and delight in this miracle of creation, of which we are each a part.

AN HISTORIC LEAP DAY 76 YEARS AGO
Hattie McDanielIf you were watching on Sunday, you know that this year’s Academy Awards ceremony was marked by many speeches acknowledging the absence of black actors/actresses in the running for top awards. In light of this, it’s interesting to note that on leap day in 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. When she arrived at the hotel where the ceremony was held, McDaniel was escorted, not to the table where Selznick sat with the Gone with the Wind contingent, but to a small table set against a far wall, where she took a seat with her escort and her agent. With the hotel’s strict no-blacks policy, Selznick had to call in a special favor just to have McDaniel allowed into the building. Some progress. Not enough. Check out this link to a video of the presentation of the award and McDaniel’s acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7t4pTNZshA.

SONOMA COUNTY POETRY OUT LOUD
Poetry Out Loud participants 2016Leap Day, 2016 is also the date for the California State Poetry Out Loud Competition, held in Sacramento. As I write this, we don’t know the results yet, but Phyllis Meshulam has sent us her feature about the Poetry Out Loud competition and the results of the 2016 Sonoma County competition. Phyllis is a poet-teacher and area co-ordinator with California Poets in the School Program, and has been shepherding this annual event for ten years. Many thanks to her and all the classroom teachers, poet-mentors, fellow judges, emcee Larry Robinson, and to many the volunteers who make this possible. Thanks also to Jerry Meshulam for the photos. And, of course, kudos to all the high school students who participated!

I have included one of the poems recited this year, “The Larger,” by Joanie Mackowski, as our poem-for-the-month at the end of this post.

______________

On February 15, 2016, at the elegant Glaser Center in Santa Rosa, we held the 10th annual Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud competition. 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!

—Phyllis Meshulam

UPCOMING EVENTS TO WATCH FOR
heglandJeanOn Monday, March 7, Sonoma County poet, memoirist, novelist, and teacher Jean Heglund will be launching a three-part series through Santa Rosa Junior College’s Community Education Program calledBringing Fiction to Life.” In addition to exploring important elements of fiction such as character, conflict, plot, and point of view, both beginning and experienced writers can expect to discover inspiration for new stories and/or learn more about stories they are currently working on.  Class fee: $146. You can register at (707) 527-4372 or http://communityed.santarosa.edu.

Jean Hegland’s most recent novel is Still Time (Arcade/Skyhorse, 2015). A film version of her first novel, Into the Forest, premiered at the 2015 Toronto international Film Festival.

Sons of NoirOn Sunday, March 20, 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  Occidental Center for the Arts Book Launch: Sons of Noir: Murder and Mayhem by San Francisco North Bay Writers. Edited by Ed Coletti and David Madgalene, readings from the short story anthology by contributing writers, Jonah Raskin, Pat Nolan, Ed Coletti, David Madgalene, Gary Brandt, and Waights Taylor Jr. Q&A, book sales and signing. Refreshments served. Free admission, donations gratefully invited. OCA: 3850 Doris Murphy Way, Occidental, CA. For more info: occidentalcenterforthearts.org or 707-874-9392.

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Private Lives Private LiesLooking ahead to April, mark your calendars for the upcoming performances of  “Private Lives Private Lies,” an original play by Sonoma County author Dianna L. Grayer about the struggles and joys from the perspective of eight LGBTQ characters. The show will take place during the weekend of April 1 – April 3, 2016, at the Graton Community Club, Main & N Edison, Graton, CA. Friday and Saturday performances are 7 PM, Sunday matinee at 2 PM. Tickets are $20 and are available online at Brown Paper Tickets –http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2510068 – and at the door.

And on Saturday, April 2, plan to drop by an all-day literary event (10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.), the Second Annual Sonoma County Local Author Showcase and Symposium at the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library, featuring a wide variety of local authors who work in many genres, ranging from romance to investigative reporting, poetry to fiction, children’s literature to local history, plus a panel on The Business of Writing, hosted by Creative Sonoma. A list of authors (speakers and exhibitors) and more details are at: https://sonomalibrary.org/SCLASS2

Terry Ehret
Co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

____________________________________

A POEM FOR MARCH

The Larger
by Joanie Mackowski

I don’t know how it happened, but I fell—
and I was immense, one dislocated arm
wedged between two buildings. I felt some ribs
had broken, perhaps a broken neck, too;
I couldn’t speak. My dress caught bunched
about my thighs, and where my glasses shattered
there’d spread something like a seacoast, or maybe
it was a port. Where my hair tangled with power lines
I felt a hot puddle of blood.
I must have passed out,
but when I woke, a crew of about fifty
was building a winding stairway beside my breast
and buttressing a platform on my sternum.
I heard, as through cotton, the noise of hammers,
circular saws, laughter, and some radio
droning songs about love. Out the corner
of one eye (I could open one eye a bit) I saw
my pocketbook, its contents scattered, my lipstick’s
toppled silo glinting out of reach.
And then, waving a tiny flashlight, a man
entered my ear. I felt his boots sloshing
the blood trickling there. He never came out.
So some went looking, with flares, dogs, dynamite
even: they burst my middle ear and found
my skull, its cavern crammed with dark matter
like a cross between a fungus and a cloud.
They never found his body, though. And they never
found or tried to find an explanation,
I think, for me; they didn’t seem to need one.
Even now my legs subdue that dangerous
sea, the water bright enough to cut
the skin, where a lighthouse, perched on the tip
of my great toe, each eight seconds rolls
another flawless pearl across the waves.
It keeps most ships from wrecking against my feet.
On clear days, people stand beside the light;
they watch the waves’ blue heads slip up and down
and scan for landmarks on the facing shore.

Source: Poetry (October 2003).

Joanie MackowskiJoanie Mackowski’s (b. 1963 ) collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). A teacher at the university level for many years, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She currently teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Her poetry is marked by precise details and attention to the sounds of language; the lines of her poems echo with slant and internal rhymes. Sometimes eerie and often grounded in scientific facts, her poetry scrutinizes insects, plants, animals, and the self.

Posted by: wordrunner | February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

Poet Laureate News
Dana GioiaIn celebratory news, we have two Poet Laureate announcements. First, Sonoma County poet Dana Gioia was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve as California’s State Poet Laureate. In recent interviews, Gioia said, “As a poet and a Californian I’m honored and delighted to represent this beautiful state. It’s very emotional for me. I was born in California. My place has asked me to serve my art.”

Gioia said that he hasn’t decided on a specific project yet, but he’s toying with the idea of visiting the 44 counties that promote the California Poetry Out Loud program, which he spearheaded during his time as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The program encourages high school students to compete in reciting poetry, exposing them both to creative expression as well as public speaking. See the information below about the upcoming Poetry Out Loud Competition on February 15 where Gioia will be one of the special guests.

Dunkle18-photo 2-3Dunkle19-photo 1-2Dunkle1-16-photo 4-3Second, Iris Jamahl Dunkle was formally installed at the ninth Sonoma County Poet Laureate at a reception Sunday at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Katherine Hastings did the honors of crowning Iris with her laurel wreath and giving her a warm, gracious, and insightful introduction; Iris then read from her newest publication, There’s a Ghost in the Machine of Air. Iris will be giving a number of readings locally (check the calendar page for details), including a reading with former Poet Laureate Mike Tuggle at Occidental Center for the Arts on Friday, February 5.

Check the Poet Laureate News page for Iris’s monthly updates, and check out her feature called “Poet’s Corner,” which will appear bi-weekly in the Press Democrat.

Poetry Out Loud
Mark your calendars for Monday, February 15, 6:30-9:00 PM for the annual Poetry Out Loud Competition, featuring winners of Sonoma County high school contests in oral poetry recitation. The event will be held once again at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Dana Gioia will be one of the special guests.

Poetry of Love
The annual Healdsburg Literary Guild-sponsored Poetry Valentine will be held at the Healdsburg Regional Library, Center and Piper Streets, in the Forum Room on Wednesday, February 10, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The event is free, and open to the public. This annual festival of love-poetry and chocolates, the Guild’s literary love-gift to the community, will feature the love-poems of 21 poets, whose poems will appear in a chapbook, Textures of Love, published by the Guild for this occasion, and available for purchase at the event. For more information, see February’s Calendar of Events.

Rumi’s Caravan
For an experience of poetry, passion, live music, and dervish dancing performed in the ecstatic tradition, join Rumi’s Caravan on Saturday, February 6 at the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa. The first event is at 2 PM “An Afternoon Delight” (tickets $25); the evening program ,“Rumi by Night ($35) begins at 7 PM. Tickets can be purchased at Many Rivers Books and through Brown Paper Tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com/events/2473190. The event benefits The Center for Climate Protection. For more information, check this link: www.rumiscaravan.com/events.

Farewell to Two Great Souls!
Last month, we lost two stellar figures in the literary world: CD Wright and Francisco Alarcon.

C.D. Wright was born in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, the daughter of a judge and a court reporter. She published over a dozen books, most recently ShallCross (2016). Wright’s writing has been described as experimental, Southern, socially conscious, and elliptical. Though her work is deeply connected to the Ozarks, Wright spent significant periods in New York and San Francisco before moving in 1983 to Rhode Island, where she taught at Brown University. With her husband, poet Forrest Gander, she founded and ran Lost Roads Press for over 20 years.

A prolific writer for adults and children, Francisco X. Alarcón was born in California and grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico. Alarcón returned to the United States to attend California State University at Long Beach, and he earned his MA from Stanford University. His most recent collection is Canto hondo/Deep Song (2015). Latino and gay identity, mythology, the Nahuatl language, Mesoamerican history, and American culture are all portrayed in Alarcón’s writing. Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation became a source for many of my own lessons, especially for the California Poets in the Schools. Suzanne Matson, reviewing the book in the Harvard Review, commented: “Alarcón foretells a new American poetics—an all-encompassing ‘eco-poetics’ in which a common language of the elements, plants, and animals is recited and celebrated.” Alarcon taught for many years at UC Davis, and was a special guest at Petaluma’s El Dia de los Muertos Poetry of Remembrance Community reading. He was also a generous supporter of writers and, among his many volunteer services, he was an advisor to Sixteen Rivers Press. He will be greatly missed.

On the subject of love, and in tribute to CD Wright and Francisco Alarcon, here are poems by each.

from Of Dark Love
By Francisco X. Alarcón
Translated By Francisco Aragón

there has never been sunlight for this love,
like a crazed flower it buds in the dark,
is at once a crown of thorns and
a spring garland around the temples

a fire, a wound, the bitterest of fruit,
but a breeze as well, a source of water,
your breath—a bite to the soul,
your chest—a tree trunk in the current

make me walk on the turbid waters,
be the ax that breaks this lock,
the dew that weeps from trees

if I become mute kissing your thighs,
it’s that my heart eagerly
searches your flesh for a new dawn

Francisco X. Alarcón, from “Of Dark Love” from From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche. Copyright © 2002 by Francisco X. Alarcón. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche? (University of Arizona Press, 2002)

_____

Everything Good between Men and Women
By C. D. Wright

has been written in mud and butter
and barbecue sauce. The walls and
the floors used to be gorgeous.
The socks off-white and a near match.
The quince with fire blight
but we get two pints of jelly
in the end. Long walks strengthen
the back. You with a fever blister
and myself with a sty. Eyes
have we and we are forever prey
to each other’s teeth. The torrents
go over us. Thunder has not harmed
anyone we know. The river coursing
through us is dirty and deep. The left
hand protects the rhythm. Watch
your head. No fires should be
unattended. Especially when wind. Each
receives a free swiss army knife.
The first few tongues are clearly
preparatory. The impression
made by yours I carry to my grave. It is
just so sad so creepy so beautiful.
Bless it. We have so little time
to learn, so much… The river
courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.
Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.

C. D. Wright, “Everything Good between Men and Women” from Steal Away: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by C. D. Wright. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Steal Away: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)

____

Terry Ehret
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | January 2, 2016

January 1, 2016

Dear Literary Folk,

As we begin another year together, Jo-Anne Rosen, co-editor, and I wish you a happy, healthy, creative 2016, and we invite you to consider the Literary Update as your vehicle for promoting the shared literary life in your circle and beyond.

We’d especially like to encourage short features by our readers, highlighting the groups or events you know of. Just send a short article (150 words or so) and a photo, if you have a relevant one, to the SoCo Literary Update by the end of each calendar month. Use the key word “featurette” in the subject line.

Do you have a new book coming out this year? Let us help you celebrate! Your publication will be included on the Sonoma County in Print page of the website. While you’re at it, you can add yourself to our growing directory of writers. You can send a short bio, photo, a description of the book and an image of the cover to us at sonomacountyliteraryupdate@gmail.com.

If you have a publication in a literary journal or anthology (within the last 30 days) you’d like to announce, send the following information to Ed Coletti at edcoletti@sbcglobal.net: Your name, title of the piece, name of the journal and date of publication (issue/volume), link to journal’s or publisher’s website (if available). This list of journal publications will be posted monthly and archived. Ed would appreciate receiving submissions prior to the final week of the month.

Thank you to Katherine Hastings!
Katherine HastingsFor two years, our literary community has been very fortunate to have poet, publisher, and WordTemple’s founding director Katherine Hastings leading us in her role as Sonoma County Poet Laureate. Her project “Digging Our Poetic Roots” culminated in the publication of a wonderful anthology of poems featuring writers across the county and across generations. We thank Katherine for her continued and profound inspiration, and for her dedication to bringing poetry to life through her reading series, her radio interviews and broadcasts, her support of fellow writers, and most of all for the lyrical vision of her poetry.

We honor all past Poets Laureates, along with this year’s nominees and finalists for their achievements and for their commitment to the literary arts in the county.

Poet Laureate Selection for 2016-17
In October, Katherine joined the Sonoma County Poet Laureate Selection Committee to consider nominees for the new SCPL for 2016-17. The Committee narrowed the field to five outstanding finalists: Ed Coletti, Nancy Dougherty, Iris Dunkle, Crystal Ockenfuss, and Larry Robinson. As you can imagine, with such a talented group, the selection was very difficult.

Iris Dunkle

Congratulations to our newest Poet Laureate, Iris Dunkle! Some of you are familiar with Iris’s book discussions and writing workshops at Jack London State Historic Park. Others may know her from her work with young writers as a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools and the Poetry Out Loud Program. Or you may know her through the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference and her many public reading throughout the county. Iris’s latest poetry book, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, about the untold history of Sonoma County, comes out this month. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, won the 2012 Trio Award, and her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013.

Iris gave her first unofficial reading in her new role at the New Year’s Poetry Brunch my husband and I host each year at our home in Petaluma. She will be formally introduced, first at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, and then at a gala reception and reading, to which you are all invited.

Please join us in honoring Iris on Sunday, January 31, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.

Upcoming January Literary Events
For a complete list of January events, along with a peek at February listings, visit the calendar page: https://socolitupdate.com/current-calendar-of-literary-events/. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

Rivertown Poets: A Muse-ing presents Bay Area poets Peter Carroll and former Sonoma County Poet Laureate Gwynn O’Gara, followed by our usual open mic. The reading is on Monday, January 4, 6:30 p.m. Details: http://www.facebook.com/RivertownPoetsAMuseingMondays.

The Sitting Room in Cotati hosts a Read Aloud Evening on Saturday, January 9 at 2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove. Join the Roberts Road Readers for a pot luck and evening of shared literary favorites. Bring up to ten minutes of your own writing, others’ writing, fiction or non-fiction, serious or humorous. Questions? E-mail Clarice Stasz: cmstasz@gmail.com

Off the Page Readers Theater presents “Turning Points.” 10 local writers’ works: short plays, stories and poems that connect to the theme. Featuring: Sandra Anfang, Sheila Bender, Susan Bono, Sher Christian, Robert Feuer, Craig Harris, Lynn Millar,Susanna Solomon, Susan Starbird, Michelle Wing. The performance-readings begin at 7:30 PM and will be held two consecutive weekends: January 22 and 23 (at Mockingbird Books, Sebastapol) and again on January 29 and 30 (Church of the Oaks, Cotati). See facebook: Off the Page Readers Theater for more info.

Poem for January
LongfellowFor the new year, I offer this beautiful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, composed in Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet form. Longfellow lived from 1807-1882. “He was a traveler, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with the great traditions of European literature and thought. At the same time, he was rooted in American life and history, which charged his imagination with untried themes and made him ambitious for success.” For more information, on his life and work, visit the website of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow project: http://www.hwlongfellow.org/.

Holidays

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;— a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

Blessings and New Year’s Wishes,
Terry Ehret and Jo-Anne Rosen, co-editors

Posted by: wordrunner | December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015

Dear Literary Folk,

There’s a chill in the air and frost in the morning. After what seemed like an endless summer, the leaves of the apple, cherry, maple, and plum have turned and are falling with the quiet grace of snow. Thankful for the richness of this literary community, I am pleased to highlight some of the December events coming up.

Literary Events for the Holiday Season

Iota Press Open House
Iota letterpress shopOne of Sonoma County’s creative hives is Iota Press and Printshop, tucked away in Sebastopol, but humming and buzzing with activity. Iota Press is an authentic letterpress printery which makes poetry chapbooks, broadsides and graphic Although it is a private press it is also the site of a co-operative of printers and artists who share the type and presses. Eric Johnson offers classes in printing at the shop, and it is possible to commission work such as chapbooks, posters or business cards. Iota-logo2If you’re looking for a unique holiday gift, you may want to mark your calendar for Sunday, December 13, 2:00-6:00 p.m. for the seventh annual December Open House.There will be unique letterpress gifts for sale, many new things to see… and a chance to meet the printers and talk about their work. In addition you can tour the shop and take part in demonstrations of the old printing presses. Wine & food… and a rare moment of solemnity as we celebrate the art of the typo with the winterprinter rite of Elddim. Iota, 925d Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol.

Healdsburg Reading and Book Open House
For those in the north county, the Headsburg Center for the Arts invites you to a reading and book open house on Sunday, December 20, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Reading & Book Open House at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, Holiday Gift Gallery. Stop in, meet the authors, hear readings, do some shopping, share the season’s joy with us. Books for all ages and on many topics. Author list: Sandy Baker, Camille Picott, Jo-Anne Rosen, Penelope La Montagne, Susan Bono, Jeanne Jusaitis, Shonnie Brown, Cynthia Helen Beecher, Marie Butler, Arlene Miller, Sherrie Lovler, Billie Payton-Settles, Bonnie ZoBell, M. M. Allen, Tiana Krahn, Phyllis Meshulam, Dr. Patrick Taylor. Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 130 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, www.healdsburgcenterforthearts.com.

100 Years in the Life of an American Girl
Come dine with local authors while you hear about chasing horse-drawn fire engines in New York City, riding to school on horseback in Montana in the 1930s, going to Woodstock at 12, and much more. On Monday, December 14, Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa hosts a reading by women featured in 100 Years in the Life of an American Girl. Location: Gaia’s Garden International Vegetarian Buffet, 1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa.

More Inclined to a Quiet Writing Retreat?
If you are looking for a winter writing retreat, join poet Patti Trimble for a weekend of writing new poems, story, and short prose at Point Reyes Field Institute. The retreat begins on Friday, December 11, 6:00 p.m. and runs through Sunday, December 13, 2:00 p.m. More details on Conferences/Retreats page or at www.ptreyes.org/camps-classes-programs/field-institute/classes/winter-weekend-writing.

Invitation to Coffee Catz Open Mic
Perhaps instead it’s a literary audience you crave. Consider joining the supportive group of friendly and witty writers on Sunday, December 20, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for the third Sunday Literary Open Mic at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol. Grab a refreshing drink and tasty treat and enjoy the cozy comfort of the back room or patio, depending on weather. Round robin open mic: share a poem or short story by you or someone else. Listeners welcome. Donation: $5 to $10. Scent free event.

Two holiday classics: A Christmas Memory and A Child's Christmas in WalesPetaluma Readers’ Theater
Treat yourself to a delightful and heartwarming pair of Christmas stories to get you in the mood for the holidays. The performances are on Friday, December 11 & Saturday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. Location: Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville, Petaluma. To order tickets, use this link: http://petalumareaderstheatre.com/index-5.html

Eugene Ruggles Memorial Reading
GeneRugglesMany of you remember Petaluma poet Eugene Ruggles, whose poetry struck the deepest chord of humanity. After the recent attacks in Paris, I thought about how Gene would have been on the phone to all the writers he knew as soon as he heard the news, creating an event that would give support to our friends, solace to the grieving, and the music of words to lift us out of our fear. For fans of Gene’s poetry, and especially for those who don’t know his work, this coming Sunday, December 6, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the Redwood Café in Cotati hosts the Eugene Ruggles Memorial Reading; poets TBA, emcee Carl Macki. Location: 8240 Old Redwood Highway. Here’s a sample of his work.

BE HERE
For Glenn Ruggles

My dear children,
I address this to both of you.
It is not how much you own or
control,
but how much you
contribute,
that will say
if you were here or not.
So, when a grief comes to you
do not ask, why me
instead of someone else,
rather ask, why not me
instead of someone else—
And when a blessing comes to you
break it into pieces
to give more of it to those
who have never had one. Be here.

Eugene Ruggles, 10/12/89
Travers City, Michigan

For more information about the life and work of Eugene Ruggles, visit the website at http://eugeneruggles.com

Blessings to you all,
Terry Ehret, Sonoma County Literary Update Co-editor

Posted by: wordrunner | November 1, 2015

November 1, 2015

Dear Literary Folk,

What a beautiful rainy day, this Day of the Dead, following one of those wild Petaluma-style Hallowe’ens and an extra hour to sleep or dream … or crank out the monthly Literary Update. Terry is away in some blissfully non-cyber woodsy space celebrating her 60th birthday and, no doubt, the rain. It’s a fitting salvo for the winter season. All is relatively quiet on the Sonoma literary front in November, unless you are a novelist participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which case we can only hope it will be quiet for you. Here are some highlights of upcoming events.

Of note on the poetry scene: Tonight and tomorrow, poetry readings at Redwood Cafe and Aqus. First Sunday Poetry & Music, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Redwood Cafe in Cotati, features Renée Owen, accompanied by musician Brian Foster on shakuhachi, mandolin & harmonica. Iris Jamahl Dunkle and Rebecca Foust will also be reading. The Rivertown Poets: A Muse-ing Mondays (Monday, November 2, 6:30 p.m. at Aqus in Petaluma) reading features Bay Area poets Joel Fallon and Clara Hsu, followed by an open mic.

On Friday, November 6, 7:00 p.m., there are readings in Sebastapol and Santa Rosa:  Pat Nolan will read from his new book Poetry For Sale, a selection of linked poetry written over thirty years with a variety of poets including Keith Abbott, Gloria Frym, and Maureen Owen. Many Rivers Book & Tea, 130 S. Main Street, Sebastopol. And in Santa Rosa, 7:00-8:00 p.m., a reading features writers from Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence. At Stepping Stones Books & Gifts, 2075 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa.

Thursday, November 12, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center presents Books on Stage with poet Rebecca Foust, author of Paradise Drive, and essayist writer Dani Burlison, author of Dendrophila and Other Social Taboos: True Stories. Free. At the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, 209 North Cloverdale Boulevard, Cloverdale.

There are two readings to choose from on Sunday, November 15: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Healdsburg Literary Guild Third Sunday Salon, featuring novelists JC Miller & Marsh Rose. The Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg. An open mic follows. And at 2:00 p.m.  an Occidental Center for the Arts book launch for A Poetry Crossing: Celebrating California Poets in the Schools with Editor, Phyllis Meshulam. Students and adults read their poems.

Saturday, November 28, 5:00 p.m. Opening Reception for Healdsburg Center for the Arts’ holiday show/gift gallery, which, in addition to art and crafts, will include books by more than a dozen Sonoma County authors.  To name but a few: Sandy Baker, Susan Bono, Anne Chadwick, Jeanne Jusaitis, Phyllis Meshulam, Camille Picott, Jo-Anne Rosen, Patrick Taylor. Authors will be at the opening reception to meet and greet and sign books. Location: 130 Plaza St, Healdsburg. The show is open until December 31.

For a list of all the calendar events across the county and beyond, visit the calendar page, which is updated every few days: https://socolitupdate.com/current-calendar-of-literary-events/.

Last but not least: Authors, consider submitting your poems, stories or memoir to the Sonoma County online lit journal, Wordrunner eChapbooks. OK, I’m the publisher and am making a pitch! We publish collections by one author at a time and once a year, a themed anthology by multiple authors. Submissions open on November 15 for the next anthology, whose theme is “Devices.” Read about it in the Calls for Submissions section or here: http://echapbook.com/submissions.html. Do check out the current issue, Family Ties by Ellyn Bache and mid-November, look for the latest echapbook fiction collection, The Marriage Bed by Elaine Ford.

That’s it for November,

Jo-Anne Rosen
co-editor, Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015

Dear Literary Folk,

Geri Digioro HonoredGeri Digiorno Honored at Petaluma Poetry Walk
Geri Digiorno Big thanks to Geri Digiorno, Bill and Bridget Vartnaw, Michelle Baynes, and a cast of dedicated volunteers for last month’s 20th Annual Petaluma Poetry Walk. Petaluma Mayor David Glass was on hand at the Apple Box to honor Geri for her contributions to the county’s literary arts with a city proclamation. Her ingenuity and leadership as creator, founder, and director of the Walk has given us all a great gift, and the Sonoma County literary community salutes you!

Special Feature: Off the Page
My co-editor, Jo-Anne Rosen, and I invite members of the Sonoma County Literary Community to help us create the monthly posts. If you’d like to take on a month’s full post or offer a “featurette” (150 words) about a writing group, reading venue, or upcoming event, please send your contribution along to me at tehret99@comcast.net.

Last month we asked, and Hillary Moore answered with this month’s feature of Off the Page. Hilary Moore is one of the group’s founders. She directs, acts, and writes. Before joining Readers Theater she performed as a stage and Improv. actor.


WHO/WHAT IS OFF THE PAGE?

Off the Page

Jeff Savage, Pat Hayes, Hilary Moore, Lynne Hollander, Spencer Sherman

Off the Page is a newish [since 2013] Readers Theater group in Sonoma County, dedicated to showcasing works of local writers performed by local actors.  All kinds of writing comprise our shows: poems, essays, narratives, plays, memoirs, sketches, songs.

WHAT IS READERS THEATER?
The performances can be gleaned from any type of writing. There is usually no set. Some pieces are slightly scripted to allow for presentation by multiple actors.

The performance style is sometimes called “dramatic reading” [the Actors are sometimes called Readers] It’s acting from the waist up…though the actor stays mostly in one place, the acting is dynamic. We perform a wide range of material: comic, tragic, dark, light, and beautiful.

Our new 2016 show, “Turning Points,” will be on Fridays, Jan 22 & 29 at Mockingbird Books, Sebastopol, and Saturdays, Jan.23 & 30 at Church of the Oaks, Cotati. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Writers: Sandra Anfang, Sheila Bender, Susan Bono, Sher Christian, Robert Feuer, Craig Harris, James Howe, Lynn Millar, Susanna Solomon, Susan Starbird, Michelle Wing

Actors: Pat Hayes, Lynne Hollander, Hilary Moore, Jeff Savage, Spencer Sherman

Please visit our facebook page, Off the Page Readers Theater or contact director Hilary Moore: hilary@monitor.net

Here’s a poem inspired by our theme:

Turning Points
by Hilary Susan Moore

Sometimes we see
them coming
but often
they are
known
only in retrospect
Sometimes they are
the results
of choices we make
but often
they are
choices that make us
However they come
they matter
They turn us in
new directions
They find us on
new paths
They shape the journey


Digging Our Poetic Roots — Poems from Sonoma County

If you missed the first two spectacular readings from Digging Our Poetic Roots, you have another chance on Thursday, October 15, 7:00 p.m. This is the anthology conceived and edited by our Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings, featuring writers from across the county. The event will be at Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 130 Plaza Street, Healdsburg.

Jean Heglund, Still TimeHealdsburg’s Jean Hegland Has a New Book and a New Film!
Into the Forest,
the story of two sisters struggling to survive after the collapse of technological society, has been adapted to the big screen. Directed by Patricia Rozema, the film stars Ellen Page (who also serves as co-producer) and Evan Rachel Wood. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last month. And on Sunday, October 18, 1:00 p.m. Jean Hegland will read from her new novel, Still Time, at Book Passage (51 Tamal Vista Blvd. Corte Madera).

Larry Robinson’s New Collection of Poems
LarryRobinson-with-coverFor years, many of us have been enjoying the daily e-mail poems sent to us by Sebastopol poet Larry Robinson. Larry is a proponent of the oral tradition as well, hosting oral poetry salons and participating in the Rumi’s Caravan events. Now Larry has a new book: Roll Away the Stone, featuring 40 poems written over the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon.

Let Us Help You Celebrate Your Publications!
Do you have a new book or poem, story, essay or review recently published? Send us your publishing news, and we’ll feature it on our Sonoma County in Pring page: https://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print.

Matthew Zapruder and Dean Young—Exclusive Bay Area Reading
Author Dean Young, Austin, TxZapruderSixteen Rivers Press invites you all to join us on Saturday, October 17, to celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of our founding with a reading by Dean Young and Matthew Zapruder. Tickets are priced at four levels, beginning at $25, and proceeds will go to the support of Sixteen Rivers Press and the publication of our books. The event goes from 3 to 6 p.m.

The benefit will help sponsor the publication of new books and launch a national first book contest, named for the poet Carolyn Kizer, one of our advisors, who passed away last October. Tickets are available from Brown Paper Tickets. Here’s the link to order your ticket: http://sixteenriversfundraiser2015.brownpapertickets.com/

For a list of all the calendar events across the county and beyond, visit the Calendar Page: https://socolitupdate.com/current-calendar-of-literary-events/.

Nominations for Sonoma County Poet Laureate
The Sonoma County Poet Laureate Selection Committee is seeking nominations for our 2016-18 Poet Laureate. Candidates must be residents of Sonoma County, whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence, who have produced a critically acclaimed body of work, and who have demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts in Sonoma County. If you know someone you’d like to nominate, or if you’d like to be considered for this prestigious post, we welcome your nominations. Nominations must be received via email by October 31, 2015. If you have questions, contact Linda Galletta at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts: lindag@sebarts.org.

Previous Poets Laureate of Sonoma County:
Don Emblen, 2000-2001
David Bromige, 2002-2003
Terry Ehret, 2004–2005
Geri Digiorno, 2006-2007
Mike Tuggle, 2008-2009
Gwynn O’Gara, 2010–2011
Bill Vartnaw, 2012-2013

Poem for October
Special thanks to Larry Robinson for this poem-of-the-day, by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Autumn

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, are holding up all this falling.

– Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated by Robert Bly)

Terry Ehret, co-editor
Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015

Dear Literary Folk,

Poetry Flash Needs Our Help
Many of you know that the inspiration for the Sonoma County Literary Update came from Poetry Flash, Joyce Jenkins’s journal of Northern California and West Coast literary happenings, which is nothing short of a miraculous labor of love. A recent $600 rent increase for the Flash’s home has come at a time between essential grants, and contributions are needed to keep the Flash flashing until the grant monies come through. If you’ve ever had occasion to consult the Flash, either in its original print form or its current web-based format, please consider making a donation. It’s easy to do: just send check for any amount that suits your budget to Poetry Flash at 1450 Fourth Street, #4, Berkeley, California 94710, or use this link to make a Paypal contribution: http://poetryflash.org/give/.

Guest Writers Invited
My co-editor, Jo-Anne Rosen, and I would love to share our post space with members of the Sonoma County Literary Community. If you’d like to take on a month’s full post or offer a “featurette” (150 words) about a writing group, reading venue, or upcoming event, please send your contribution along to me at tehret99@comcast.net.

Kudos to Katherine Hastings on the publication of Digging Our Poetic Roots!
Digging Our Poetic RootsSaturday evening, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts to celebrate the culmination of Katherine Hastings’s poet laureate project anthology, Digging Our Poetic Roots — Poems from Sonoma County. Katherine gives a full report on her Poet Laureate’s News Page (https://socolitupdate.com/poet-laureates-news/). And if you missed this lively gathering, you have two more chances: Wednesday, September 16, 7:00 p.m., at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, and Thursday, October 15, 7:00 p.m., at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts.

Time to Nominate Our Next Sonoma County Poet Laureate
The Sonoma County Poet Laureate Selection Committee is seeking nominations for our 2016-18 Poet Laureate. Candidates must be residents of Sonoma County, whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence, who have produced a critically acclaimed body of work, and who have demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts in Sonoma County. If you know someone you’d like to nominate, or if you’d like to be considered for this prestigious post, we welcome your nominations. Nominations must be received via email by October 31, 2015. If you have questions, contact Linda Galletta at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts: lindag@sebarts.org.

Previous Poets Laureate of Sonoma County
Don Emblen,  2000-2001
David Bromige,  2002-2003
Terry Ehret,  2004 – 2005
Geri Digiorno, 2006-2007
Mike Tuggle,  2008-2009
Gwynn O’Gara, 2010 – 2011
Bill Vartnaw, 2012-2013

Terry Ehret and Caitlin Ehret MoeThree Poets Laureate at the Redwood Café
I don’t know what the collective noun is for poets laureate—quiver? murmur? persuasion? clowder?—but whatever it is, you have a chance to hear three past laureates read at the Redwood Café on Sunday, September 6 from 5-7 PM. The evening event features Mike Tuggle and Gwynn O’Gara. I’ll be the third, performing a poetry/music duet with my daughter Caitlin. Hope to see you there! Location: 8240 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati.

PetPtryWlk2015Petaluma Poetry Walk on Its Way
Once again, downtown Petaluma will be host to a day of poetry readings on Sunday, September 20, starting at the Seed Bank at 11:00 a.m. and ending at Aqus Café from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. You can check out the full list of locations and featured readers at this link: http://petalumapoetrywalk.org/2015_poetrywalk_schedule.html

Watershed FestivalWatershed Poetry Festival
The 20th annual Watershed Poetry Festival takes place this year on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Civic Center Park (MLK Jr. Way at Center Street, Berkeley). This FREE, day-long event features local and national poets, musicians, students, publishers and vendors. This year’s outstanding lineup of poets and writers includes former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Malcolm Margolin, Francisco X. Alarcón, and Novella Carpenter (Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer).

Sixteen Rivers Annual Benefit Reading and Anniversary Party
Sixteen Rivers Press invites you all to join us on Saturday, October 17, to celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of our founding with a reading by Dean Young and Mathew Zapruder. Tickets are priced at four levels, beginning at $25, and proceeds will go to the support of Sixteen Rivers Press and the publication of our books. The event goes from 3 to 6 PM.  Tickets will be available from Brown Paper Tickets on September 7.

For a list of all the calendar events across the county and beyond, visit the Calendar Page: https://socolitupdate.com/current-calendar-of-literary-events/.

Congratulations to local authors who have had their work published recently in books or journals. You can discover more on our Sonoma County in Print page (https://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print). Special thanks to Ed Coletti, who keeps our announcements of local writers publishing in literary journals up to date.

Poem for September

Home
by Bruce Weigl

I didn’t know I was grateful
for such late-autumn
bent-up cornfields

yellow in the after-harvest
sun before the
cold plow turns it all over

into never.
I didn’t know
I would enter this music

that translates the world
back into dirt fields
that have always called to me

as if I were a thing
come from the dirt,
like a tuber,

or like a needful boy. End
Lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
and unraveling strangeness.

From The Unraveling Strangeness by Bruce Weigl, published by Grove/Atlantic. Copyright © 2003 by Bruce Weigl

Terry Ehret, co-editor
Sonoma County Literary Update

Posted by: wordrunner | August 1, 2015

August 1, 2015

Dear Literary Folk,

Many thanks to Jo-Anne Rosen for all she does to keep our Sonoma County Literary Update alive and well, and especially for filling in on short notice when I was away last month.

I want to extend congratulations to our local writers who’ve had their work published recently. Clara Rosemarda, Phyllis Meshulam, and Rebecca Patrascu all have new poetry chapbooks debuting this summer. Jonah Raskin has a new book out, A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature (scroll down for details about his upcoming reading). And kudos to Dan Coshnear, whose new novella, Homesick Redux, was selected by Fiction Fix guest editor Raleigh Rand to win its second novella award. You can discover more on our Sonoma County in Print page (https://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-in-print). Special thanks to Ed Coletti, who keeps our announcements of local writers publishing in literary journals up to date.

I also want to put in a plug for our local creative writing teachers, who month after month offer great workshops, writing circles, critique groups, and individual writing consultations. I’ve highlighted just a few here, but I encourage you to explore our website page of Sonoma County Teachers/Consultants (https://socolitupdate.com/sonoma-county-writers-offering-workshops-and-consultations-2/) and our Workshops page (https://socolitupdate.com/current-and-upcoming-writing-workshops/).

Sonoma County Poet Iris Dunkle will be teaching a Poetry Writing Workshop at Napa Valley College: ENGL 203 – Poetry Workshop this Fall Wednesdays 6 – 8:50 PM beginning August 19.

Local writer and teacher Abby Bogomolny, will be offering a new class at SRJC, English 36: LGBT Arts and Literature. The course studies significant LGBT writers and artists and their works from antiquity to present, including poetry, short stories, novels, plays, cinema, music, biographies, coded texts, and political essays. You can check it out at this link: https://portal.santarosa.edu/SRWeb/SR_ScheduleOfClasses.aspx?Mode=text&TermID=20157&CourseDiscipline=ENGL&Course=25509.

SRJC’s English Department has also selected Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness as the fall semester’s Work of Literary Merit. There will be lectures and panel discussions open to students, faculty, and the general public. For more information, you can check out the department’s website: http://english.santarosa.edu/work-literary-merit.

I have two spaces open in each of my Sitting Room Workshops. The Monday Workshop, which begins September 14, focuses on creative revision techniques for poets. The Friday Workshop, beginning September 18, is a reading and discussion of Dante’s Inferno, with creative writing prompts cued to Dante’s work, and an opportunity to present new work in supportive critique sessions. Both workshops run for ten weeks. For more information contact me at tehret99@comcast.net.

Here are some other highlights of the literary events coming up this month in our calendar.

Monday, August 3, 6:30 p.m. Rivertown Poets: A Muse-ing Mondays August reading features poets Katharine Harer and Maya Khosla, followed by an open mic. Open mic signups begin at 6:00 p.m. 189 H Street in downtown Petaluma.

Saturday, August 15, 2:00 p.m. Author Jonah Raskin will read from his new book A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature, which explores the work of major American poets and novelists and environmental writers: Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Willa Cather and more. Sonoma Valley Regional Library, 755 West Napa Street, Sonoma.

Saturday, August 29, 7:00 p.m. Reading from Digging Our Poetic Roots (edited by Katherine Hastings), at Sebastopol Center for the Arts. See the Poet Laureate’s News Page for details about this culmination of Katherine’s Poet Laureate Project, and all the upcoming readings she’s scheduled: https://socolitupdate.com/poet-laureates-news/.

Remembering Stanley Kunitz and James Agee

I have often used this monthly post to recognize great poets and writers who have recently left us. This month, I want to celebrate two writers: Stanley Kunitz, a writer who passed away in 2006 at the age of 100; and James Agee, who passed away in the year of my birth, 1955, at the age of 45.

Stanley KunitzThe first time I heard of Stanley Kunitz, it was because a statement of his about poetry caught my attention: “The poem has secrets the poet knows nothing of.” I had been teaching a poem called “The Secret” by Denise Levertov, and my students didn’t understand how a writer could be unconscious of a poem’s intent or meaning. Kunitz’s quote tied in with another profound description of poetry as the “Unsayable Said,” by Donald Hall. In 2000, Kunitz was appointed US Poet Laureate (he was 94!), and his work became more widely known and celebrated.

About his own work, Kunitz has said: “The poem comes in the form of a blessing—‘like rapture breaking on the mind,’ as I tried to phrase it in my youth. Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable. Does one live, therefore, for the sake of poetry? No, the reverse is true: poetry is for the sake of the life.”

At the end of this post, I have included one of Kunitz’s poems and a link to the Poets.org website where you can learn more about this shy, visionary, remarkable writer.

James AgeeThe second writer, James Agee, is someone whose work I have often read about—Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, his account of the Great Depression, and A Death in the Family, published posthumously in 1958, and the work which won him a posthumous Pulitzer. This summer, two coincidences brought his work to my attention. One is the film Night of the Hunter, which I put on my Netflix cue because I was looking for films that came out in the year I was born. The film is a visual poem that is haunting in its fairy-tale, dreamlike exploration of innocence and evil. What I didn’t know was that Agee wrote the screenplay. He was also the screen writer for The African Queen, which I’d also recently rewatched. Then, just this week, a friend read me Agee’s prose poem, “Knoxville: Summer  of 1915,” which was, according to the author, written in an hour and a half in 1938, but which wasn’t published until 1958 as the prologue to A Death in the Family. I have also included it here in its entirety—a moving, lyrical evocation of summers past. The composer Samuel Barber set a portion of this to music, in 1947, and I’ve included a link to a Youtube video so you can hear it yourself.

Terry Ehret
Sonoma County Literary Update Co-Editor

________________________

The Layers, by Stanley Kunitz, 1905 – 2006
http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/stanley-kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

From The Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz (W. W. Norton, 2000). Copyright © 1978 by Stanley Kunitz.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915
by James Agee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un7l-CxvdEg

We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child. It was a little bit sort of block, fairly solidly lower middle class, with one or two juts apiece on either side of that. The houses corresponded: middle­sized gracefully fretted wood houses built in the late nineties and early nineteen hundreds, with small front and side and more spacious back yards, and trees in the yards, and porches. These were softwooded trees, poplars, tulip trees, cottonwoods. There were fences around one or two of the houses, but mainly the yards ran into each other with only now and then a low hedge that wasn’t doing very well. There were few good friends among the grown people, and they were not enough for the other sort of intimate acquaintance, but everyone nodded and spoke, and even might talk short times, trivially, and at the two extremes of general or the particular, and ordinarily next door neighbors talked quiet when they happened to run into each other, and never paid calls. The men mostly small businessmen, one or two very modestly executives, one or two worked with their hands, most of them clerical, and most of them between and forty-­five.

But it is of these evenings, I speak. Supper was at six and was over by half past. There was still daylight, shining softly and with a tarnish, like the lining of a shell; and the carbon lamps lifted the corners were on in the light, and the locusts were started, and the fire flies were out, and a few frogs were flopping in the dewy grass, by the time the fathers and the children came out. The children ran out first hell bent and yelling those names by which they were known; then the fathers sank out leisurely crossed suspenders, their collars removed and their necks looking tall and shy. The mothers stayed back in the kitchen washing and drying, putting things away, recrossing their traceless footsteps like the lifetime journeys of bees, measuring out the dry cocoa for breakfast. When they came out they had taken off their aprons and their skirts were dampened and they sat in rockers on porches quietly. It is not of the games children play in the evening that I want to speak now, it is of a contemporaneous atmosphere that has little to do with them: that of fathers of families, each in his space of lawn, his shirt fishlike pale in the unnatural light and his face nearly anonymous, hosing their lawns. The hoses were attached at spigots that stood out of the brick foundations of the houses. The nozzles were variously set but usually so there was a long sweet stream spray, the nozzle wet in the hand, the water trickling the right forearm and peeled-­back cuff, and the water whishing out a long loose and low­curved and so gentle a sound. First an insane noise of violence in the nozzle, then the irregular sound of adjustment, then the smoothing into steadiness and a pitch accurately tuned to the size and style of stream as any violin. So many qualities of sound out of one hose: so many choral differences out of those several hoses that were in earshot. Out of any one hose, the almost dead silence of the release, and the short still arch of the separate big drops, silent as a held breath, and only the noise of the flattering noise on leaves and the slapped grass at the fall of abig drop. That, and the intense hiss with the intense stream; that, and that intensity not growing less but growing more quiet and delicate with the turn the nozzle, up to the extreme tender whisper when the water was just a wide of film. Chiefly, though, the hoses were set much alike, in a compromise between distance and tenderness of spray (and quite surely a sense of art behind this compromise, and a quiet deep joy, too real to recognize itself), and the sounds therefore were pitched much alike; pointed by the snorting start of a new hose; decorated by some man playful with the nozzle; left empty, like God by the sparrow’s fall, when any single one of them desists: and all, though near alike,of various pitch; and in this unison.

These sweet pale streamings in the light out their pallors and their voices all together, mothers hushing their children, the hushing unnaturally prolonged, the men gentle and silent and each snail-like withdrawn into the quietude of what he singly is doing, the urination of huge children stood loosely military against an invisible wall, and gentle happy and peaceful, tasting the mean goodness of their living like the last of their suppers in their mouths; while the locusts carry on this noise of hoses on their much higher and sharper key. The noise of the locust is dry, and it seems not to be rasped or vibrated but urged from him as if through a small orifice by a breath that can never give out. Also there is never one locust but an illusion of at least a thousand. The noise of each locust is pitched in some classic locust range out of which none of them varies more than two full tones: and yet you seem to hear each locust discrete from all the rest, and there is a long, slow, pulse in their noise, like the scarcely defined arch of a long and high set bridge. They are all around in every tree, so that the noise seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, from the whole shell heaven, shivering in your flesh and teasing your eardrums, the boldest of all the sounds of night. And yet it is habitual to summer nights, and is of the great order of noises, like the noises of the sea and of the blood her precocious grandchild, which you realize you are hearing only when you catch yourself listening. Meantime from low in the dark, just outside the swaying horizons of the hoses, conveying always grass in the damp of dew and its strong green-black smear of smell, the regular yet spaced noises of the crickets, each a sweet cold silver noise three-noted, like the slipping each time of three matched links of a small chain. But the men by now, one by one, have silenced their hoses and drained and coiled them. Now only two, and now only one, is left, and you see only ghostlike shirt with the sleeve garters, and sober mystery of his mild face like the lifted face of large cattle enquiring of your presence in a pitch dark pool of meadow; and now he too is gone; and it has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt; a loud auto; a quiet auto; people in pairs, not in a hurry, scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually, the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk, the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber. A street car raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints ; halts, the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten. Now is the night one blue dew. Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose.Low on the length of lawns, a frailing of fire who breathes. Content, silver, like peeps of light, each cricket makes his comment over and over in the drowned grassA cold toad thumpily flounders.Within the edges of damp shadows of side yards are hovering children nearly sick with joy of fear, who watch the unguarding of a telephone pole. Around white carbon corner lamps bugs of all sizes are lifted elliptic, solar systems. Big hardshells bruise themselves, assailant: he is fallen on his back, legs squiggling. Parents on porches: rock and rock: From damp strings morning glories : hang their ancient faces. The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums. On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts.

We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there. First we were sitting up, then one of us lay down, and then we all lay down, on our stomachs, or on our sides, or on our backs, and they have kept on talking. They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of night. May god bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am.

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