Laureate Archive 2018-2019

October 2019

Rising from the Ashes: The Heart of Poetry — A Commemoration 

Maya Khosla

You are invited to a poetry reading and gathering at Sebastopol Center for the Arts on Sunday, November 10, 2019, 2-4 pm. The afternoon will mark two years after the “Rising from the Ashes,” a reading sponsored by Word Temple and organized by Poets Laureate Emerita Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Terry Ehret, Katherine Hastings, and by Larry Robinson, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and the Poet Laureate Selection Committee. Over 20 people shared poems, music, scratch-notes, and thoughts gathered in the haste of a moment — after the October 2017 fires. This time, our gathering will mark two years after the first Rising from the Ashes reading.

The 2017 reading inspired me to continue with a reading series, gathering places for poets and their audiences. Thanks to so many of you who have participated in many of the events and workshops since that time, we have been exploring themes centered on the rebuilding process and on lands advancing through the stages of vigorous post-fire rejuvenation — the oaks, bays, redwoods, the chaparral plants and wildflowers and animals. I hope you will make it to the November 10 2019 reading.

Refreshments will be served.

Sonoma trees

Maya Khosla
Sonoma Poet Laureate (2018-2020)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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)

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August 2019

Fall Plans…

Maya Khosla

Summer is flying by! The Legacy Project will continue through the fall, with support from the California Humanities Program and continued support from The Sitting Room Community Library. During the fall of 2019, I am planning to bring nature poetry to several Sonoma schools.

Legacy Project at Munroe Elementary

Students from Munroe Elementary School who participated in the Legacy Project, Spring 2019

Teachers and I will also be able to take students out into the field. If you’re interested taking your students out to Sonoma’s open spaces, or in bringing those spaces to your writing class, please let me know. We’ll have to plan well ahead, so do contact me soon – the website address below has a page where you can contact me.

Best wishes,
Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)

http://creekshade.wixsite.com/mayakhosla/copy-of-poet-laureate-project

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

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May 2019

Poetry Walks Through Sonoma’s Open Space Areas

Maya Khosla

What an intense, nonstop National Poetry Month! Hope you had fun celebrating. For many of us, the celebrations began and ended with readings at The Sitting Room Community Library. On April 5th, Brenda Hillman and Bob Hass read from their work (I’ve never seen the library so full of people!) and on Sunday, April 28th, we concluded the month with a series of poetry readings. Once again, JJ Wilson and Karen Petersen generously offered the Sitting Room for the readings. We took a chance, held the event in the garden framed by redwoods, and were reasonably lucky with the weather (JJ had a stack of hats and blankets for the sun and wind). A California quail and an American robin made cameo appearances during the readings.

Sandra Anfang read from her new book, Xylem Highway, and Tim Nonn from his new collection, The Path Worn by Love. Many thanks to the poets, audience members, JJ Wilson, Karen Petersen, and Jenny Blaker, who set up all the refreshments!

OK – now that the events went smoothly, I have a confession. On Saturday, April 27th (a day before the Sitting Room readings), I was up in Grass Valley, Nevada County, at the Sierra Poetry Festival (reading and giving a workshop about poetry and film)! The festival featured Forrest Gander, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Matt Zapruder, Karen Terrey, Marcello Hernandez Castillo, Blas Falconer, Molly Fisk, Sarah Borjas, Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan (co-editors of Fire and Rain, a new anthology of California poetry), and Chris Olander, who became the new Nevada County Poet Laureate!

Driving down from the Sierra foothills on Sunday morning, straight into preparations for the April 28th readings, was slightly nerve-wracking! Anyway, all went well.

Fairfield Osborn PreserveOK, a couple of announcements for May 2019. As part of my Legacy Project, I am hosting two poetry walks. I will be so pleased if you can join me at Fairfield Osborn Preserve on the evening of Friday, May 10th. The event is called Poetry for a Changing Landscape, a continuation of an event that was held last November. If you’d like to go to the Preserve, please send an email to creekshade@gmail.com and I will send you directions and details. The second event on Sunday, May 12th is an afternoon walk through Glen Oaks Ranch. Between 2 and 5 pm, I will be leading a walk exploring the land and responding to it with writing. Parts of Glen Oaks that burned during the 2017 fires are now making a comeback. You are most welcome to attend both walks!

Best wishes,
Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)

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April 2019

Grandmother Oak’s Daughter

Maya Khosla

“Why do you think people call this Grandmother Oak?” I asked 30 sixth-grade students from James Monroe Elementary School. We were standing under a dome of dark leaves, the 700 square-foot canopy of a coast live oak, by the side of a sloping trail in Pepperwood Preserve. The entire hillside burned during the 2017 fires; many of the oaks are alive.

“Because she’s old.” “Huge…” “Like – really old!” “She made it through the fire?”

For a few moments we counted the number of sounds, dominated by Pepperwood Creek in full flow. Further along the trail, while we took turns sitting on the low branch of a younger, “bench” oak, one of the students said, “This must be Grandma Oak’s daughter!”

Many thanks to Phyllis Meshulam (CPITS), Nikki Winovich and Mike Persinger, teachers at James Monroe Elementary School, and all their students for coming over to hike and read poetry in Pepperwood Preserve. Mike Persinger’s students were enthusiastic despite the rain, and created their own film based on the trip). Thanks also to Creative Sonoma and The Sitting Room Library for supporting the field trips.

Poetry month is here! We’ll be celebrating poetry all month, with public events on April 25th at Readers Books, Sonoma and on April 28th at the Sitting Room Library. The April 28th afternoon readings will begin at 2:30 and conclude by 5:00 pm. Please feel free to arrive by 2:00 so you have time to enjoy the refreshments! We will be celebrating many Sonoma poets, new books by Sandra Anfang (Xylem Highway) and by Tom Nonn (The Path Worn by Love). The Sitting Room has an announcement online (www.sittingroom.org/events.html; please scroll down to April 28th for the description). The April 25th reading at Readers Books in Sonoma will feature readings by new poets from Sixteen Rivers Press. Barbara Swift Brauer, Camille Norton and I will be reading.

Best wishes,
Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)

http://creekshade.wixsite.com/mayakhosla/copy-of-poet-laureate-project

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February 2019

The Good Work of the Seasons

Maya Khosla

The Legacy Project continues — with the sounds of rain and poetry! On the afternoon of January 13th, a bright afternoon between rain events, several Sonoma writers got together to read and to hear others at Pepperwood Preserve’s Dwight Center Gallery. The poetry was intense and powerful. The film project is beginning to take shape

More readings will follow — there’s one planned for April 28th at the Sitting Room Community Library. With a little more than another full year as Sonoma’s poet laureate, I continue to invite people to attend or be a part of the reading series. It’s become a habit. Spontaneously, I answer questions with:

What I’m doing? I’m working on the Legacy Project, a series of gatherings and filmed poetry readings that began with responses to the 2017 Sonoma Fires. Given time, the themes have broadened naturally. Some poems focus on healing and renewal at personal or landscape levels (or both), some reflect on the fires; still others venture beyond those themes. Do attend one or more of the events* …

Legacy Project

The Legacy Project collage shows a growing number of voices that are a part of the reading series…

Annadel State Park

A glimpse of Annadel State Park

On a related note, we’re stepping out into the field on February 23rd. The Petaluma Arts Center is offering a field-based program called From the Land to the Page. Beginning with an introduction at the Petaluma Arts Center, we will take off — bound for Annadel State Park. The park and neighboring lands are experiencing an astonishing level of post-fire renewal — giving us a chance to understand the way they have been shaped by rain, wind and fire since long before the dinosaurs. Scores of trees with fire scars are leafing out, while the standing dead trees support nests and dining areas for birds and other animals. All will be invited to absorb the landscape, pen down their thoughts and share them in a supportive environment.

*The Sitting Room Community Library is sponsoring many of the upcoming events — a big thank-you to the library!

Best wishes,
Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)

http://creekshade.wixsite.com/mayakhosla/copy-of-poet-laureate-project

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December 2018

As you bustle through the holiday season,

Maya Khosla

do spend a moment thinking of a powerful poem that caught your attention this year. My poet laureate project, The Legacy Project, has given me opportunities to record many powerful Sonoma voices in film. The materials will continue to grow with plans to continue filming Sonoma poets in 2019. While I’m thinking about it, I would like to thank all who made the 2018 events happen and all who attended them –  at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, The Sitting Room Community Library, Armstrong Woods, Aqus Café, Santa Rosa Junior College, Petaluma, the Petaluma Poetry Walk, Rohnert Park Public Library, Munroe Elementary School, Sebastopol Regional Library, the Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Fairfield Osborn Preserve and Pepperwood Preserve. Wow – and the list is expected to grow next year!

And before I forget: please keep a January event in mind…On January 13th, 2019, a poetry reading will be held at Pepperwood’s Dwight Center. More details will be listed here and on the Pepperwood Preserve website (www.pepperwoodpreserve.org) in January.

Best wishes,
Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)

http://creekshade.wixsite.com/mayakhosla/copy-of-poet-laureate-project

2018 Owl Family
time stops for stars, while
a soft unheard rush of wings
brings winter nights home

– Maya

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November 2018

The Beginning of a Poetry Series

Maya KhoslaThe month of October 2018, one year after the October 2017 fires, was marked by many moments of silence, commemorations, poetry, music, and art events across Sonoma County. On October 14th many writers gathered at Pepperwood Preserve to read from their work dealing with the evacuations, the losses, the luck, and major realizations.* It was the beginning of a poetry reading series that will continue through 2019 and will broaden to include formal readings, informal gatherings, and walks through lands advancing through the stages of rejuvenation — the oaks, bays, redwoods, the chaparral plants and wildflowers and wildlife – even black bears — making a comeback (http://radio.krcb.org/post/filmmaker-and-poet-brings-art-fires).

Related to making a comeback, I would be pleased if you could join me for Poetry for a Changing Landscape in Fairfield Osborn Preserve on Sunday November 11th (https://conta.cc/2ofJ3Eo; please scroll down to the final event and click on Sunday, November 11th) And there’s one more informal gathering for the fall at the Sitting Room on November 29th, 4-6 pm (http://www.sittingroom.org/events.html; please scroll down to the final event). I’m delighted so many have gained from our fall 2018 gatherings – more are being planned!

For the future readings on January 13th 2019 (Pepperwood Preserve**), the end of April 2019 (The Sitting Room) and other future readings, I am hoping to gently shift the focus towards healing and renewal at both personal and landscape levels. My hope is that the readings can progress thematically over time. With permissions from poets, the readings will be filmed so I can begin to create a film featuring Sonoma poets. Do let me know if you’d like to participate.

Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)
www.mayakhosla.com

* ”Rising from the Ashes: The Heart of Poetry,” a gathering held at Sebastopol Center for the Arts a month after the October 2017 Wine Country Fires, inspired me to continue with a reading series, a gathering places for poets and their audiences. Over 20 people walked up to share their poems, music, scratch-notes, thoughts gathered in the haste of a moment. “Rising from the Ashes” was sponsored Word Temple, and organized by 2016-2018 Poet Laureate Iris Jamahl Dunkle, and by Terry Ehret, Katherine Hastings, Larry Robinson, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and the Poet Laureate Selection Committee.

** Pepperwood Preserve in the News:
www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-pepperwood-preserve-rebound-20181023-story.html
www.pressdemocrat.com/specialsections/8419117-181/rebuilding-sonoma-county-revival-underway

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September 2018

Note how the Summer Light Turns

Maya KhoslaSo much of this year has been full of new beginnings. If you have a moment, stop and think about one snapshot. It could be a photo you took with your phone or camera, or it could be in an image that has remained with you. You might have been in a rush, but for some reason that moment, that image, was important. And you hoped to keep in mind.

Consider the details of that image and take a moment to write about it. Perhaps you can simply create a short sketch in words, a sketch that expresses just a few details of that image. Or perhaps it can go a little beyond that moment – how you felt, why it was important, who else was present, and who was absent. There’s no pressure here – the minute you put yourself under pressure to write is the minute the words tend to escape like so much water in a stream. So begin small and simple, just a few words to celebrate that image. Your lines don’t have to follow any rules – just as long as they recapture that moment…

Maya Khosla
Poet Laureate, Sonoma County (2018-2020)
www.mayakhosla.com

California buckeye, sprouting after the 2017 wildfires

California buckeye, sprouting after the 2017 wildfires. Photo taken on Jan 3 2018.

https://boomcalifornia.com/2017/10/20/heating-up-california-spotted-owls-and-wildfire/
KRCB TV Sonoma fire update

 

 

 

 

 

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Iris Dunkle

January 2018

Let’s Poem a Day our Way into 2018!

For most of us in Sonoma County, 2017 has been a challenging year with the most dramatic and devastating event being the wildfires that blazed through and forever changed our lives this past October. To begin 2018 on a positive note, I’m leading a free, online poem-a-day group on Nicenethttp://www.nicenet.org. Each morning, I will post a prompt and you will have all day to write a poem in response to it and post it under the day’s prompt. You will also be able to see all your fellow group member’s poems posted and you can leave brief comments on these poems if you like. (We try to stay positive though in a poem-a-day environment though because let’s face it it’s tough to write a poem in a single day!) Many of the prompts will be about the Sonoma and Napa county wildfires: remembering and reflecting on all that we lost and all that we gained as a community from this tragedy.

All are welcome to join! (There is no age limit!) So, please tell a friend! Also, if the idea of writing a poem-a-day terrifies you, don’t worry! You can join and only write a few poems.

Here are the instructions to join:

Go to http://www.nicenet.org
Set up an account.
Find our class: Poem a Day January 2018
Enter the key: 838ZZ63P36

I look forward to writing with you! Please feel free to send me an email (iris.dunkle@gmail.com) if you have any questions!

Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Sonoma County Poet Laureate 2016-2017

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Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s  poetry collections, Gold Passage (2013) There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air (2015), and Interrupted Geographies (2017), are available at: www.irisjamahldunkle.com.

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Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  2015 and 2016-2017.

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