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WordTemple Poetry Series

The WordTemple Poetry Series takes place at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts

282 S. High Street, Sebastopol, CA.             All events are free.


The next reading takes place on:

Saturday, February 20, 2016         7:00 p.m.


Troy Jollimore is the author of several books of poetry.  His most recent collection, The Syllabus of Errors, published by Princeton University Press, was named one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2015” by The New York Times.  His first collection, Thom Thompson in Purgatory, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.  Born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Jollimore, a Ph.D. in Philosophy, has lived in the United States since 1993 and is Professor of Philosophy at California State University Chico.  He has been an External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Stanley P. Young Fellow at Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and a Guggenheim Fellow.  He has authored three books of philosophy that concern everything from ethical issues connected to personal relationships to the ethics of terrorism to the nature of happiness, and more.

Heather Altfeld will be reading from her collection, The Disappearing Theatre, winner of the 2015 Poets at Work Prize, judged by Stephen Dunn.  Her poems “Blueprint for the Infinite” and “Two Pockets” won the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry with Nimrod International Magazine.  She is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center. She lectures in English and the Honors Program at California State University Chico and at Butte Community College.

Kathleen Winter’s collection Nostalgia for the Criminal Past won the Antivenom Poetry Prize from Elixir Press, as well as the Texas Institute of Letters 2013 Bob Bush Memorial Award.  Her poems have appeared widely in journals, including Tin House, AGNI, The New Republic, Poetry London and Gulf Coast.  Awarded fellowships at the James Merrill House; the Dora Maar House and elsewhere, Winter was the Ralph Johnston Fellow at the Dobie Paisano Ranch, selected by the University of Texas and the Texas Institute of Letters.  She teaches at Napa Valley College and lives in Glen Ellen, CA.


Saturday, January 9, 2016


Jane Mead is the author of four full-length books of poetry, most recently MONEY MONEY MONEY | WATER WATER WATER, from Alice James Books. Her poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals and she is the recipient of grants and awards from the Whiting, Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations. She has taught at many colleges and universities including Colby College, The University of Iowa and Wake Forest University. She now manages the ranch her grandfather purchased in the early 1900’s in Northern California, where she grows zinfandel and cabernet wine-grapes. She teaches in the Drew University low-residency MFA program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s just-released collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, is about the untold history of Sonoma County, CA. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013.  Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College.She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference and co-facilitates a book discussion group at Jack London State Historic Park.  IRIS IS THE NEW POET LAUREATE OF SONOMA COUNTY! (2016 — 2018)

Jodi Hottel opens the evening with Through a New Lens, a chapbook of poems based on the memoirs of Frank Schueler.  Born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1933, Schueler grew up during the Third Reich and was sent to a youth camp at the age of ten.  He dedicates Hottel’s poems to his mother, one of several relatives killed in a bombing raid.  Hottel is the author of Heart Mountain, her chapbook of poems about the Japanese internment.



DIGGING OUR POETIC ROOTS!  This may not be a “WordTemple” reading, but you don’t want to miss it!  Come celebrate the anthology Digging Our Poetic Roots — Poems from Sonoma County at the third and final reading (so far!):

Thursday, October 15, 2015       7:00 p.m.     Healdsburg Center for the Arts

Many poets who have work in the anthology will be on hand to read.


Saturday, September 12, 2015     7:00 p.m.

Stephen Kessler with Forbidden Pleasures — New Selected Poems by Luis Cernuda.   Devereaux Baker.    Michelle Wing.

Stephen Kessler is a poet, prose writer, translator, and editor.  He is the author of ten books and chapbooks of original poetry, sixteen books of literary translation, and three collections of essays.  His most recent books (spring 2015) are Where Was I? (prose poems/memoirs), Need I Say More? (essays) and Forbidden Pleasures (new selected poems of Luis Cernuda, translation).  He is also the author of a novel, The Mental Traveler, the editor and principal translator of The Sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges, and from 1999 through 2014 was the founder and editor of The Redwood Coast Review, four-time winner of the California Library Association’s PR Excellence Award.  His other awards include a Lambda Literary Award and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets for his previous translations of Luis Cernuda, Written in Water and Desolation of the Chimera.

Devereaux Baker will read from her latest collection, out of the bones of the earth.  Previous collections include the award-winning Red Willow People; Light at the Edge; and Beyond the Circumstance of Sight.

out of the bones of the earth is a fiery melange of longing and grief, of body scars and scars from wars leavened by dreams, the balm of the natural world, and love.  Baker has the soul of a gypsy dervish, leaping and whirling from California to New Orleans to Houston to Rome to Greece to Iran and more…Baker’s is a powerful voice, a wise voice.  Listen carefully.” — Pamela Uschuk

Opening Sonoma County poet Michelle Wing will read poems from her book Body on the Wall, as well as newer poems. You won’t want to miss the deeply felt work of experience and survival presented in Body on the Wall or the perfectly centered space in which they are presented.  There is harm, but beyond that harm lies a whole world of abundance and love delivered word by word, line by line.

“These poems are like swallowed charcoal, purifying the toxins they’ve ingested.  Brave, bracing, tender and true.” — Janet Fitch


Saturday, August 29, 2015     7:00 p.m.



Come help celebrate the release of the anthology that is the culmination of my Poet Laureate project!  Many poets in the anthology will read their work.  Included in the book are:  Terry Ehret, Maya Khosla, Patti Trimble, Nancy Cavers Dougherty, Fran Carbonaro, Gregory W. Randall, Janine Canan, Dave Seter, George Stenger, Amy Trussell, Jodi Hottel, Lisa Shulman, Michelle Wing, David Beckman, Jane Green, Clara Rosemarda, Thomas Ziemer, Rebecca Patrascu, Carol Keig, Andrea Granahan, Susan Weinstein, Elizabeth Herron, Sandy Eastoak, Lucille Friesen, David Madgalene, Kay Webb, Patrice Warrender, Julia Vose, Hannah Maggiora, Mimi Whittaker, Gary McLaughlin, Jean Wong, Cecelia Belle, Scott Sibary, Liz Brennan, J.R. Brady, Roxanne Trujillo, Paula Koneazny, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, contributing editors Jennifer K. Sweeney, Lee Slonimsky and Patrick Cahill, and editor, Katherine Hastings.


Saturday, May 16, 2015   7:00 p.m.


Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). What makes this book so interesting? This, and more: “Storm Toward Morning moves fluently between the rigors of inherited forms and the openness of free verse with an uncompromising precision. By turns tender, anguished, meditative, celebratory and defiant, Black’s poems transcribe the contours of human consciousness… “

Mark Jarman says: “To be both visionary and accurate, true to physics and metaphysics at the same time, is rare and puts the poet in some rarefied company. Black, like a few other younger poets, is willing to include all the traditional effects of the lyric poem in his work, but he has set them going in new and lively ways, with the confidence of virtuosity and a belief in the ancient pleasures of pattern and repetition…”

A recent Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University, Black is a recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, as well as grants and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and others. His work was featured by Mark Jarman in the Academy of American Poets’ American Poet magazine, and his work has been set to music several times. He is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of San Diego.


Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas is celebrating his latest book, Bridge, a work of poetic fiction published by BOA Editions. His first book, Door to Door, was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize and published by Fordham University. His second book, Dragging the Lake, was published by Carnegie Mellon. Thomas has received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has won a Pushcart Prize.

Set in modern-day San Francisco, this obsessive work…probes the stormy life of a young woman, real and hallucinated relationships, and more. “In lyrical prose, Bridge exposes a raw, brilliant, and furious mind as it treads the jagged terrain of mental illness, murder, and suicide – to be or not to be.”

Bridge has the lucid spacious interiority and intensity of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and a prose style hypnotic and brilliant enough to earn that comparison. Thomas’s combination of sheer lyricism and incisive edginess in each swift poetic chapter keeps the reader leaning forward to hear what our wounded, brazen narrator…is going to say next.” – Tony Hoagland


Maya Pepperwood

Maya Khosla is a wildlife biologist and writer. Her poems have appeared in Munyori, Poem and other journals, collected in her book Keel Bone (winner of a Dorothy Brunsman Award), nominated for Pushcart Prizes by World Literature Today, and featured in films including Village of Dust, City of Water (2007 Lion Award, Wildlife Asia Film Festival). Two awards from the Save Our Seas Foundation gave her a chance to document sea turtles of India and to work her poems into the screenwriting. Maya plans to film and write about saving rare woodpeckers of the Sierra Nevadas, with awards from Audubon Society and Patagonia.