It’s book season!
Here in Wine Country, most associate autumn with the grape harvest. But we at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference are celebrating a different bounty — the wealth of local literary festivals this month and next, often featuring Napa faculty, attendees and staff.
The word harvest began with last weekend’s Petaluma Poetry Walk, which gave participants the opportunity to stroll from location to location around downtown Petaluma and hear different poets and perspectives at each stop along the way. According to a 2010 article on Examiner.com, the poetry walk began sixteen years ago when founder Geri Digiorno and friends decided to organize an event to increase the popularity of poetry locally.
Digiorno, Sonoma County’s poet laureate for 2006-2007, has not only written several books of her own verse, but she co-edited the Petaluma Poetry Walk 10-Year Anthology: 1996 to 2005 to mark the festival’s first decade. Conference fiction director Lakin Khan introduced her and other poets at the Apple Box at the Mill, a homey cafe with views of the Petaluma River; while frequent faculty member Jane Hirshfield read from her new book, Come, Thief, at Copperfield’s Books.
Hirshfield will be back in the North Bay this Saturday, Sept. 24, for the Sonoma County Book Festival, which takes place in and around Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square and features dozens of readings, panels and book booths. According to the Press Democrat, the twelfth year of the festival will feature an expanded lineup of activities for teens and grade-school children, including a teen poetry slam.
In addition to Hirshfield, the conference is represented by 2008 faculty member Ann Packer, whose latest book is Swim Back to Me, and at least two attendees who are published authors: Michael David Lukas, who attended the conference in 2009 and returned to introduce Daniel Alarcón this year, will read from his book The Oracle of Stamboul, and 2011 poetry attendee Judy Halebsky, who will read from her work, Sky = Empty.
Capping the literary event trifecta is LitQuake, slated for Oct. 7 – 15 in San Francisco. This cornucopia of literary events offers everything from a “lit crawl”, with authors presenting on a Saturday night at a series of coffee shops and watering holes, to panels on self-publishing, Scandinavian crime fiction and more. Elise Proulx, who has participated on our conference publishing panel, is on the organizing committee, and Hirshfield, Packer, and Lukas are all on the roster of hundreds of authors. We also spotted 1980s conference faculty member Jane Smiley on the list — and there are bound to be others with conference connections. Who did we miss?