Poet Laureate’s News

September 2019

Pepperwood Preserve, Coddingtown Library, Rivertown, and Beyond

Maya KhoslaBetween the Petaluma Poetry Walk and many other poetry reading events, September is almost another poetry month! If you haven’t yet made it to any of the Pepperwood Preserve readings, please do come over on Sept 7th. My colleagues at Pepperwood Preserve and I are delighted to announce a reading featuring three Sonoma-based poets, Forrest Gander, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Greg Mahrer and Kathleen Winter. Details about the three featured poets are below. The reading will be held at the Preserve’s Dwight Center from 4 – 6 pm. We are hoping for a clear afternoon, so we can gather outdoors under live oaks that experienced the 2017 fires and recovered beautifully. As always, refreshments will be served. Author books will be available for sale. Feel free to arrive a few minutes early to enjoy the view and refreshments before we settle in.  The readings will begin after short introductions.

My colleague Camille Norton and I will be reading at Aqus Café as part of Sandra Anfang’s Rivertown Poets series on Monday September 2, Labor Day (6 – 8:30 pm). And on September 14th (2 – 4 pm)I’ll be happy to share writing tips and writing during a presentation at the Northwest Santa Rosa Library,  Coddingtown Center .

Sitting Room Collage

A big thank-you to Sitting Room Community Library for sponsoring and supporting several events this year – these photos are from our reading during National Poetry Month. And thanks to Jessica Layton Photography for allowing me to use these lovely photos.


OK, now for some sobering news: a poem about deforestation. And it’s not based on the Amazon. It’s based right here – well, in the Sierra Nevada just west of Yosemite.

A Small Gray Fox

gray fox before loggingThe terror: nothing to climb, nothing
to step around or on. No burrow, no cover,
no limb, no woods. Page after page of ecology
slashed. Nothing but rising dust to breathe.

Three months ago, I watched you
scrambling up a trusted slant of trunk, a snag,
springing for another. Sitting down to give
the evening a good, investigative, sniff,
curling that furry black-tipped tail around
your front paws. Young pines dwarfed you.

A mountain lion pugmark in silt, wide
as my shoe. How naïve to spend a moment
believing the lion was the biggest threat
you would face. Can you run faster now.
Could I have given you warnings. Could I have
given someone, anyone, the real story.

To stop the plans, the crashing and shrieking,
metal against metal, a newborn forest turning
to dust, your pillars of home growing cold.
Stockpiles bound for biomass burning facilities.
What will we do with that sort of power.
Have you grown enough to outrun the rising dust.


On August 29, 2019, I watched as acres of forests were torn down and stockpiled for burning in biomass facilities, for the generation of power… Right now it’s all happening in the forest close to aremote dirt road, 1S82. This small gray fox was one of many I documented there. The forests were naturally regenerating after the 2013 Rim Fire burned through Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada. Families of gray foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, weasels, ringtail cats, deer, and over 90 species of birds including northern goshawks were making their living near 1S82 and elsewhere – all over the thousands of acres that were thriving after the fire. I encountered them at every turn…


I almost forgot one more announcement you might have seen already: Nevada County Poet Laureate Emerita Molly Fisk is inviting poets to submit poems by California residents about wildfire, flooding, and other climate crisis events taking place in the state of California. Send up to three poems to californiafireandwater@gmail.comPreviously published work is welcome. Deadline: November 15th. For questions please write to californiafireandwater@gmail.com

Maya Khosla
Sonoma Poet Laureate (2018-2020)


Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  20152016-2017 and 2018-2019.


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