Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bill Truesdale

If it wasn't for Bill Truesdale's constant encouragement, I would've never thought of my zany email letter to him as a possible prose piece for House on Via Gombito: North American Women Writing Abroad (A broad!). (I had just returned from the USSR; I was abuzz, agog, as well as jet-lagged.)

Bill rejected my Peru travel piece and said—work on the letter. My flabber was ghasted. My shell was shocked. What letter? My email? So, from my emails, I drafted a train piece about traveling across the Russias. First big prose piece I'd ever tackled. Something like 10k words, it went through many drafts, and it also opened up the doorway to writing prose. And here I am, right now, writing prose....

Bill believed strongly in supporting emerging writers, and founded New Rivers Press in an old barn in 1968; Bill picked up lead poisoning from setting type as he set the first books by hand. The legacy press, with some 300 titles in print, is oldest continuously publishing press in the country. It was also the first book publisher to obtain a 501(c)3 nonprofit status, thus changing the role of small publishing forever.

So, yeah, I Bill, New Rivers Press editor extraordinaire. Bill died in 2001, after a long illness. Wherever you may be, Bill, riding that great zephyr in the sky, thanks for reading my zany eleventh-hour emails and seeing a potential story in them.

Nearly fifty women writers from North America contributed to the House on Via Gombito, an extraordinary anthology, published in 1991, long before the likes of Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, and other women traveller-writers came into the limelight. These women writers (and myself) were pioneers exploring the inner emotional landscape of travel, as well as the outer landscapes, in a genre stolidly set in a male-dominated world of heroic adventure writing.

My memoir about traveling across the USSR, Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace was reprinted in Writing the Rails: Train Adventures by the World's Best Loved Train Stories—by a subsidiary of Workman Publishers, Black Dog & Leventhal. It was a great line up (of mostly dead writers), Paul Theroux, VS Naipaul, Edith Wharton... I kept thinking they'd made a mistake including me.

Sadly the book was stood up and remaindered after 9/11. I never did get to do an author reading or book signing at Barnes & Noble. Alas, I do not have an electronic facsimile of my story, it's on the ever-growing 'to do" scan pile. It's done! Visit the page, Writing the Rails: Train Adventures.

C.W. "Bill" Truesdale

Maureen Hurley teaching silkpainting at Pleasanton

Maureen Hurley teaching silkpainting with Living History at the 2011 San Francisco Caledonian Club Scottish Highland Games. See you in the barn at the Alameda Fairgrounds in Pleasanton this Labor Day weekend! Tickets are $12 at the gate. KIds get in free.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Migraine cure

OMG! I've  found a fantastic cure for migraines—lemon curd tart smothered in fresh raspberries. Be sure to really push the berries into the curd for best results.

Fan o' the Week

Monday, August 20, 2012

CPITS Poetry & Writing Symposium

California Poets in the Schools

Passing the Gift Forward

A Poetry and Writing Symposium

September 14 - 16, 2012 Institute of Noetic Sciences Petaluma, California

California Poets in the Schools is a statewide writers- in-residence program, one of the oldest and largest in the country. Since 1964, CPITS has been bringing professional poet-teachers into classrooms to bring the joy of poetry and the excitement of creative writing to K-12 students in schools, community centers, afterschool programs, and programs for students at risk. In recent years, CPITS has also proudly served as the poet recruitment arm and the fiscal agent of the California Poetry Out Loud program, coaching high school students in recitation. A hallmark of the CPITS program is an annual anthology of student and poet- teacher poems, essays, and lesson plans.


Susie Terrence Lorca Meets Neruda for Lunch - Literally (Food Provided). Blend the flamenco rhythms of Lorca’s Andalusia with the sensual food odes of Pablo Neruda and you’ll have the tastiest poems you and your students will produce this
side of Sevilla or Isla Negra. Susie Terence, a San Francisco CPITS poet teacher for 25 years, is a novelist, poet, and actor who loves Neruda, Lorca, and flamenco.

Michelle Bitting The Artful Practice of Scratching - Everything is a Remix. The artful practice of “scratching” citing a variety of artists from multiple disciplines who find their way into the muse and the beginning of any particular project by scraping and gathering what’s already around them and making, shaping, bending, molding, enhancing, shredding, reconfiguring, etc. it into something new and wonderful. Theories and practice will be discussed and some handy tools and exercises for digging into new poetic territory, both for the teacher/writer and the student/writer. Michelle Bitting has taught poetry in the U.C.L.A. Extension Writer’s Program and is proud to be an active poet-teacher at CPITS. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon. Visit her at:

Karen Lewis Poetry + Math = Haiku. Creating curriculum - How to link poetry writing work- shops to basic standards in Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, Environmental Studies, and more. When poets demonstrate the value of poetry to reinforce other subject areas, teacher, school districts and students are excited to engage. The visiting poet becomes a team player in awakening students’ intellectual curiosity, creative problem solving skills, and healthy self-expression using language. Karen Lewis has been teaching with CPITS since 1996 and is a 5-time recipient of California Arts Council-Artist in Schools grants. She is a curriculum consultant for the Arts Council of Mendocino County.

Pamela Singer The Gift. This workshop will discuss how first through third grade students are introduced to metaphor and simile through a discussion of the five senses. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students learn to write poetry through a lesson on rhythm inspired by Native Americana poetry and chants. High school students under- stand the power of poetry through exposure to poems written by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who etched poems into Styrofoam cups with pebbles. Pamela Singer has been a CPITS poet- teacher for more than two decades, and a Poetry Out Loud poet-coach for the past four years. One of her poems was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize. She has been published in numerous poetry jour- nals. Her book “Teaching Compassion” instructs educa- tors and parents in ways to teach compassion to children through their relationship with animals.

Dana Lomax Experiments Across Disciplines: Poetry in Conversation. Every artistic discipline offers its own vision and version of experience. What can we learn from other art forms that can extend our writing and teaching practices? We’ll discuss poetry in conversation with other visual, literary, and performing works. We’ll consider visual art, dance, film, and music in relation to writing exercises that spur imagination in new directions for ourselves and our students. She is the author of several books of poetry and is the co- editor of Letters to Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics, and Community. She is currently completing an experimental anthology for kids entitled Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, & Stories for Children and teaches writing at San Francisco State University.

Claire Blotter Gifting Poetry Out Loud to Ho Hum High Schoolers. How do you enthuse uninterested teens into reciting great poetry- and convince them that POL participation will help them fulfill their dreams? Through short DVDs, partner work and performance practice, you will leave with tools that give students a deeper understanding, appreciation and skill for communicating the spoken word. Claire Blotter, Teacher/ Coach is a two time SF Poetry Slam Winner, competing in National Finals in Boston and Chicago.

Michael McLaughlin Twelve Bar Blues Poetry. Based on the transliterative work of Langston Hughes, you’ll quickly learn how to write Blues poetry and how to facilitate “classic Blues” poetry workshops. A sure-fire approach, whether working with 4th-12th graders, in prisons, jails, juvenile detension centers, or mental health facilities. Michael McLaughlin, a CPITS member for 21 years, has recently completed his 2nd novel, Gang of One, and was 2003 Poet Laureat of San Luis Obispo.

Alice Pero Rhythm and Metaphor in Action: the Magic Mixture. How to communicate the basics of poetry to children and get them writing right away through the use of rhythm and pretend, rhythm practice, and rhythm phrase practice. Discover the magic of describing and then changing. The Gift: What the Child Already Knows Restored. Alice Pero, flutist, dancer, poet, poetry teacher to children since 1991. Kenneth Koch praised her work as having “clarity/surprises.”

Jackleen Holton Poems of Oneness and Compassion. Though the writing and reading of poetry are often solitary acts, like meditation, poetry deepens our sense of being a part of something larger than ourselves, and allows us to share and experience oneness with our fellow beings. In this workshop, we will read and discuss contemporary poems of compassion and unity, and mine our own lives for those simple transcendent moments that we can translate from the personal to the universal. Jackleen Holton’s poetry is upcoming in RATTLE, Pearl, and Bayou.

Terri Glass How the Lyric Essay Informs the Poem. In this workshop, I will discuss how the essay and the poem are fluid strands that can pour into one another, informing, extenuating lines, or condensing language to make your writing juicier. Please bring 2 paragraphs of your own prose and one poem that you will work with to reshape in surprising ways. Terri Glass, a long time teacher with CPITS, served as their Program Director from 2008-2011. She is the author of two books of poetry, the most recent The Song of Yes. Her specialty is environmental/nature writing.

Dan Levinson Last Day on Earth. If today were your last day on earth, what would you miss? How would you want to be remembered? What is your legacy? Inspired by “In the Museum of Your Last Day” and other poems, this lesson makes us aware of what we have now and can offer to the future. Dan Levinson joined CPITS in 1998 and is Humboldt County Area Coordinator. He teachers as many as 1000 students each year.

Daryl Chinn Demystifying the CPITS Program (New Poet-Teachers’ Workshop). This workshop will provide new teachers with the information they need to become a field poet. Training, marketing techniques, paperwork, information of Poetry Out Loud, and an overview of the organization will be discussed. Each poet will receive sample lesson plans for different grade levels. Darryl Ngee Chinn is the former President of the Board of Directors of CPITS, and writes and creates books about tango, food, relationships, love, and death.

Tree Bernstein Play it Forward: Writing Rengas in a Round. This Japanese form is perfectly suited for a large rowdy romp of poeteers, or select few serious scribes. Taking off from Haiku and Senyru, this poetry game challenges the poet players to create sharp images and see subtle connections from stanza to stanza. Tree Bernstein, a.k.a. Ms. Metaphor (, graduated from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodies Poetics with an MFA in Writing and Poetics.

Fernando Castro Multidisciplinary Writing Workshop. Poems can be born from listening to a song, eating a slice of pizza or the aroma of a fruit-just to mention a few stimuli. Once they are language on a page, poems render other transformational possibilities to be expressed in other media such as visual arts, drama, and other forms. Workshop will invite participants to these possibilities through writing and other media experi- ences. Fernando Castro’s work has appeared in more than a dozen anthologies, and he is responsible for 25 anthologies of creative writing by youth and adults. He is the winner of a City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs COLA 2010 fellowship in Literature.

Registration Deadline to register is August 31, 2012.

Includes Friday dinner and reading; Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner, workshops, and read- ing; Sunday breakfast, workshops, and closing.


September 14-16, 2012
Friday, September 14 (pre-symposium)

Writing Intensive with Camille Dungy. Includes lunch at IONS at 12:30 p.m. followed by the writing intensive from 1:30 - 5:30 p.m. Writing Intensive: Dear Poet, Dear Reader, I’m Writing These Letters to You: How to read and write the epistolary poem. The letter form shrinks the distances between speaker-reader-audience. The triangulation creates a point where the reader becomes also the speaker and the audience. During the workshop, we’ll look at several letter poems, taking note of how they work their magic, and you’ll come away with prompts you can try at home.

Camille Dungy Writing Intensive Teacher & Featured Reader

Camille Dungy is a two- time recipient of the Northern California Book Award (2010 and 2011), a Silver Medal Winner in the California Book Award (2011), and a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee (2010 and 2011). She was a 2011 finalist for the Balcones Prize, and her books have been shortlisted for the 2011 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, the PEN Center USA 2007 Literary Award, and the Library of Virginia 2007 Literary Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

Kathy Evans Featured Reader & Honoree

Kathy Evans has worked for several years at The Grove Consultants International, a consulting firm with a unique niche in the area of organizational training and development, using visual tools for facilitation, pro- cess management and strate- gic planning. Her emphasis is in the area of education, healthcare, and non-profit organizations, and the arts. She began at the Grove Consultants writing some of the training manuals for Stra- tegic Planning, and then progressed to coordinating the workshop series. She trained as a graphic facilitator and recorder, traveling the country for various clients.

Friday–Sunday, September 14-16

Check-in time at IONS begins at 4 p.m. on Friday. The symposium begins with a 6 p.m. dinner followed by a 7:30 p.m. reading by our writing intensive teacher and featured reader Camille Dungy and our honoree Kathy Evans. Saturday begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast, with a special welcome and keynote speech at 9 a.m. Workshops will run all day from 9:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Saturday evening will include an open poet-teacher reading and celebration at 7:30 pm. Sunday workshops will begin at 9 a.m. and the symposium will end by noon. There will be time throughout the weekend for relaxation and to enjoy the new hot tub!

Optional College Credit

Teachers are eligible for continuing education credits. An optional credit of one (1) semester unit of Cal State San Marcos is available for an additional fee of $80 per unit and $12 for transcript fee. Extension credits appear on official transcripts and assist in teachers satisfying professional growth requirements. Registration and payment is separate from symposium fees and will be available at the symposium.

Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma is located just 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge off of Highway 101. IONS hosts educational activities and workshops that focus on health, personal growth, and transformation. The IONS Retreat Center is perched upon 200 acres of beautiful rolling hills. It offers such gifts as pristine live oak woodlands, meandering hiking trails, an endless panoramic vistas of the California landscape. Also on the grounds is a newly built hot tub, a teepee, a stone labyrinth, and an organic garden. IONS is located at 101 San Antonio Road, Petaluma, CA. Please visit

Mail Registration to:
California Poets in the Schools
1333 Balboa Street, Suite 3
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-4201

For registration question or concerns please contact CPITS at (415)221-4201 or 1333 Balboa St. #3, San Francisco, CA 94118

Here's the website of the retreat. 
Google maps didn't work with attached IONS link 

Use this one if you actually want to get there: 
Drive up 101 past Novato, past Olompali, the  the dump, a ranch, as you reach the gentle crest of the hill make a LEFT across highway—that's San Antonio Road. Don't go down the grade on 101—that's too far. First fire road on your left is Burdell Drive. Wind your way up the hill. If you miss the first San Antionio Rd turnoff, there's a 2nd loop at bottom of hill on 101, near the airstrip—wind your way back veering left.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Maxfield Parrish sunset like no other

Did anyone catch the sunset tonight? My weenie flip cellphone (with serious technical issues) decided it wasn't gonna turn on, no matter what. So, sadly, no photo. I took mental pictures. What an incredible silhouette of Mt. Tam and the Bay replete with clouds that were etched straight out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. Weirdly there was also a hint of rain in the air—so we also had angel wings and buttermilk clouds lit from behind, glowing in shades of alizarin and woad. I raced home to get my cameras but I was too late. The sky had turned to dull pewter.

Susan Wooldridge said that were beams of light streaking out from "bimulous" clouds—it looked like a William Blake! Nothing like a little display of Godlight refracting through a sieve of clouds. Or smoke. So do ya think all that Chevron pollution is a contributing factor to that glorious sunset? It surely set the imagination afire. Jack Glider managed to get a photo from San Francisco but his fine photo was nowhere near as intense as what I witnessed.

Nice photo Jack Gilder! Did you snap any others? 
Tonight, I'll be at the ready
with my camera in hand. 
But no sunset was ever as grand
as last night's cloud confetti.

from a FB post, somewhat revised. Added 8/19