Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


We’d love to hear how your writing is going! Please feel free to post your successes, your challenges, your thoughts, your suggestions as you work toward your own word goal for National Novel Writing Month.

–Julie Winkelstein

Just respond to this blog post and we’ll keep the thread going!

November 4 Novel Writing Group

November 4 Novel Writing Group


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On April 7, Albany City Council member, Marge Atkinson, presented a proclamation recognizing National Library Week at Albany Library.  Library manager, Deb Sica, received the proclamation with Library Board members, Alan Riffer and Karen McKeown. Come by the library and dig up a little local treasure from the shelves. Talk with staff. Attend a program.

If you happen to have overdue fines, the county library is sponsoring Food for Fines Week from April 13 to April 19. See flyer below.




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San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon presented their new anthology, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down (Scarlet Tanager Press, 2012). We heard readings by editors and contributors: Andrena Zawinski, Lucille Lang Day and Judy Wells.


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Our featured readers at the November 13 poetry night were Betty Roszak and Murray Silverstein.

A fascinating collection of painted tubes stood to the left of the podium as Betty Roszak read her poems, glowing like a futuristic city. These designs are part of the cover art for her collected poems: For Want of the Golden City.

The art fit the mood of the poems. Just as the decorations on the tubes were reminiscent of a hippie bus, the concepts held under the poet’s scrutiny shimmered in a groovy way as they caught the light. See photos below.

Roszak also stared down the problems of pollution and greed and her poems were a testament to ecological awareness. As Catherine Taylor writes,

“Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and reviews. Her audio-texts, Starbirth and The Crest of the East Pacific Rise, poetic evocations of recent scientific discoveries, have been presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The poem “Global Ocean Flux” was commissioned by the American Geophysical Union.”

Murray Silverstein was the second reader. He read favorites from his collection, Any Old Wolf, reminding the audience how rooted we are in spoken truths. The voice, narrating the passages of family life, is great within us and Silverstein’s voice is particularly clear and strong.

His idiosyncratic poems about a series of buildings in Modesto (with slides of each building) were a delight to hear and see. Not only did we meet the people who lived in the buildings; the structures spoke out–each revealing its own persona. The architectural poems were written for Modesto’s 2012 International Architecture Festival.

Look for Murray’s new book, Master of Leaves, from Sixteen Rivers Press.

Many accomplished poets stepped up to the open mic following the featured readers, a night remarkable for its clear voices. I hope to add video recordings of the featured poets at a later date.

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On September 11, 2012, the Second Tuesdays Poetry Series celebrated labor with poems that addressed social, political, economic, aesthetic, and cultural realities of the 99 percent.

99 Poems for the 99 Percent demonstrates how the aims of poetry are in concert with the aims and ambitions of the vast majority of Americans. It is proof that poetry can speak in a vital, robust, and meaningful way about real issues to real people.  The blog is unique as a collection of poems representing the diverse concerns, experiences, and interpretations of 99 American poets nationwide.

Six poets read their own poems and a selection of works from the blog’s other contributors across the United States. Featured poets: Blog Curator Dean Rader; Dan Bellm; Julie Bruck;  Gillian Conoley; Zara Raab; Tess Taylor

The open mic was a microcosm of our own homegrown 99%!

See more of the blog at link below:

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This Monday’s YMCA/Library Brown Bag Speakers Forum features local East Bay historian, Richard Schwartz. He has a fascinating collection of stories and slides to show how people survived the quake and assisted each other in its aftermath. Solano strollers may like to know their shopping mecca was once called Tin Can Town, after those left homeless by the quake set up tarp and scrap metal shelters in the area.

One surprising detail of local history is related in the link below:


Come to the lecture starting at 12:30, April 16 in the Edith Stone Room.

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On Monday, January 23, the Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum presented Fariba Nawa.

Fariba Nawa is a journalist and the author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan. She also authored the report Afghanistan, Inc., and is a contributing writer to Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands, to be published in spring 2012 by Harvard University Press. She writes for London’s Sunday Times Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous other publications. She holds a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and journalism.

Ms. Nawa wove her own life story into the fabric of Afghani history. Her family comes from a center of learning and culture in the south of the country. The people of the region speak Dari, a variant of Farsi. (The other official language of the country is Pashto.)

She began her talk by describing life in a war zone and her first glimpse of death. This event inspired her to become a war correspondent. (See video below.)  Her family emigrated  from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power, but her early experiences prompted her to return as an adult after the U.S.-led invasion of the country.

Though she continues to bear witness to positive changes in Afghani society. she has zeroed in on the continuing brutality and economic hardships which surround the opium trade. (Though much of the world’s opium comes from the country, it’s full-scale production into heroin and other drugs happens elsewhere.) Nawa describes how children become victims of adult power-relationships; young girls are sold into marriage to settle debts.

Opium Nation documents a global tragedy exacerbated by the greed and ignorance of those who have no concern for Afghanis and little knowledge of Afghanistan. Any audience that hears Fariba speak feels the sadness of her memory-laden journey.  But we also feel her power and sense her determination to educate the world about the causes of the violence and the economic and social remedies needed to restore peace.

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