A Press Democrat Blog


Dan Taylor on the fine arts scene.

Katherine Hastings named Sonoma County Poet Laureate

Katherine Hastings, to be proclaimed Sonoma County’s new poet laureate by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, will be honored at a public reception at 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. Hastings is the founder of her own WordTemple publishing company, as well as the local poetry reading series and KRCB radio series of the same name. She also has written two poetry collections, published by Spuyten Duyvil of New… Read More »

Sonoma County seeks its next poet laureate

Petaluma native Bill Vartnaw, a lifelong writer and one-time San Francisco cab driver, is finishing his two-year term as Sonoma County’s seventh poet laureate. The time has come to pick a successor, and nominations are open now. The job description is simple enough: Promote poetry in general and local poets in particular. Each poet laureate sets his or her own specific agenda. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 31, 2013 and the new poet laureate will be announced in December.… Read More »

100 Thousand Poets for Change returns Sept. 27-29 to Santa Rosa

In 2011, Guerneville poet and web site editor Michael Rothenberg came up with the idea of staging poetry readings all over world on the same day, coordinated via the Internet. He called the project “100 Thousand Poets for Change.” While the idea grew that first year to include 700 events in 550 cities in 95 countries, its local presence was rather small — just a poetry reading in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square. Now, in its third year, “100 Thousand… Read More »

Artist, poet and jazz star Oliver Lake performs June 29 in Healdsburg

Healdsburg Jazz presents Oliver Lake, poet, painter and and musician, in two performances, and 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts. Lake will play flute and saxophone solos and recite his poetry. His artwork is part of the current exhibit at the art center, “Flying Home/Inspired By Jazz: A Visual Exploration of Jazz.” A co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, Lake has composed composing major commissioned works for the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra… Read More »

Poet Dana Gioia to speak in Sebastopol

The WordTemple Poetry Series will present Swedish poet, novelist and literary historian Kjell Espmark, and Dana Gioia, Sonoma County poet and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, in a reading Saturday, April 13, in Sebastopol. The program starts at 7 p.m. at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. A former professor in comparative literature at University of Stockholm, Espmark has published 13 volumes of poetry. Goia, who has published four poetry collections,… Read More »

Santa Rosa celebrates ’100 Thousand Poets for Change’

Last year, Guerneville poet and web site editor Michael Rothenberg had an idea. He wanted to use the Web to instigate a loose aggregation of poetry readings all over the world, all devoted to fostering peace and protecting the planet. That idea became the first “100 Thousand Poets for Change” last September, with some 700 events held all on one day, in 550 cities in 95 countries. Now he’s staging the second annual “100 Thousand Poets for Change.” The local… Read More »

Ferlinghetti art and poetry show in Sonoma

Best known as a Beat era poet and co-founder of San Francisco’s City Lights book store and publishing company, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 93, is also a lifelong artist. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art opens “Cross Pollination,” an exhibit of his writings, paintings and graphic works, on Saturday, June 23. The show also includes some of his notebooks and sketchbooks, on public display for the first time. Ferlinghetti’s first collection of poems, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” published in 1958… Read More »

Student poets recite and read at French Garden

Think poetry is tired old stuff from centuries past, repeated only by aged professors? Here’s something fresh. Young students, from second grade through high school, will recite great poetry, and read their own work aloud, at “Voices of Youth,” from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the French Garden Restaurant, 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol. Among the student presenters will be finalists from the Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Competitions, who have memorized some of the greatest poems written… Read More »

Santa Rosa poet comes out with a new book

Aside from occasional public poetry readings, Santa Rosa poet and playwright David Beckman, former New York professional actor and retired advertising writer, has been a relatively quiet presence in the community since he settled here in 2003. But some of his neighbors took notice when his play, “Becoming Walt Whitman,” a drama about a more famous poet, ran for a month at the 6th Street Playhouse Studio Theater in 2010. Now Beckman is coming out with a new book of… Read More »

Bill Vartnaw named Sonoma County Poet Laureate

Petaluma native Bill Vartnaw has been named Sonoma Couty’s seventh poet laureate, and will be honored at 3 p.m.  Jan. 29 at the county’s Santa Rosa Central Library, Third and B Streets. Vartnaw has been writing poetry for more than 35 years. He founded Taurean Horn Press in 1974, and has published 14 books, including his own “In Concern: For Angels,” in 1984. The poet laureate is chosen by a committee including representatives from every Sonoma County supervisor district, Sonoma… Read More »