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It’s Official! I’m Poet Laureate

fountain-pen-1851096_1920On Monday, June 26th, I was sworn in as the City of Livermore’s fourth Poet Laureate. The Commission for the Arts notified me of its selection a few weeks ago, but I wanted to wait to make the announcement until the appointment was official. Well, it’s official. My term starts on July 1, 2017, and lasts two years (with a possibility of a two-year extension).

To kick off my first week, I read my first official poem to the City Council, hosted the Whistlestop Writers Open Mic, now in it’s fourth year, and on Sunday, July 2nd, will host a cowboy poetry event at the Heritage Guild’s community open house at historic Hagemann Ranch, located at 455 Olivina Avenue in Livermore. I’ll be showcasing poems from two local poets: Lynn R. Owens (Livermore’s “Poet Lariat,” now deceased) and Lauren DeVore, who owns a ranch on Morgan Territory Road. Plus I’ve collected some fantastic examples of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry, including a fair number of female poets!

The poetry readings will be split into two 30-minute segments: one at 3:00 p.m. and the other at 4:00 p.m. The event runs from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and will include a 4-H horsemanship demonstration, square dancing, glass blowing, antique farm equipment, presentations by local ranchers, games for kids, the El Ranchero Vaquero Team (Mexican horse dancing) at 1:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., plus free food!

It’s going to be an exciting and fun event, and I’m happy I could help out my dear friend Barbara Soules and the Heritage Guild. Barbara is already planning to make this an annual event! I hope you can join me.

For those of you that missed my first official poem, here’s what I read to the Livermore City Council on Monday night after I was sworn in.



That’s what we used to say as bored
high school students eager to escape.
It was different then: no hip restaurants,
no outlet stores, no wine bars,
or even coffee shops. We bucked

hay in the quad for Homecoming.
I dreamt of a fast-paced career paired
with big city lights, far from a sleepy
hometown. I got them—for awhile—
but by thirty I found myself, inexplicably,
here, in the one place I’d sworn to avoid.

Which changed more, the place or I?
The Vine serves wine; we have fireworks
downtown. The cowboy bar is gone, replaced
by yoga studios, French bakeries, craft beer.
Now when I climb Pigeon Pass at night,

see the Valley cupped like a sea of stars
in the Earth’s hands, I feel blessed. I hike
Brushy Peak in the shadow of windmills,
mark seasons with vineyards. I pass
Baughman’s and the Donut Wheel, feel
something twist in my head-strong heart.

For both the place and I, things were lost
in the passage of time, but much was gained.
The roots I once sought to sever sink deeper,
drawing me close, weaving a cloak
that shelters in life’s inevitable storms.

 Livermore—it’s good to be home.


For the next few weeks, I’ll be talking to key constituents, making plans, and settling into my new role. If this first week is any indication, it’s going to be a busy two years!

What new tasks are you tackling this summer?

Until next time,

Second Guest Post on A Writer’s March

This year, in addition to participating in A Writer’s March, I contributed two guest posts. Here is the second of my posts: Fallow Fields

Image 4-6-17 at 1.54 AM

The writers who have participated in A Writer’s March over the years are an amazing bunch. I’m honored to be a part of this inspiring crowd and grateful that I could help with the blog.  Go check it out!

Until next time,

Poetry in a Test Tube

Isaac_NewtonKevin Gunn, the current Poet Laureate of Livermore, decided last month he wanted to celebrate science before his term expired. So he created a contest called Poetry in a Test Tube. It was open to any resident regardless of age. He wasn’t sure how many people would enter, and because I know how it feels to sit at an open mic with only a few people in attendance, I wrote a science poem and sent it in.

Originally I planned to do a poem about Albert Einstein because he was Swiss like my grandparents, but as I conducted my research, I was increasingly distracted by Sir Isaac Newton. Eventually I wrote a poem about him instead.

It turns out Newton many have suffered from bipolar disorder and also could have been on the autism spectrum. Yet he made countless scientific discoveries until his death at age 84. He developed calculus and didn’t consider it important! Just a convenient way for him to think numerically. In short, the man was pretty freaking amazing.

Here’s the poem I entered:

 SIR ISAAC NEWTON, 1642-1726

Calculus, optics, laws of motion,
the first estimate of the speed of sound.
So many discoveries buried like seeds
in a premature infant, waiting to root
in a mind’s fertile soil, waiting for
the spark that would ignite the world.

Prisms, physics, universal gravitation,
color spectrums and reflecting telescopes.
Did he know he was brilliant? Taste
the sweet mead of genius as he untangled
thorny knots? Or was it craving, an obsession
to discover what others never dreamed?

He marveled at the night sky, saw sequenced
equations sailing through stars, watched
an apple fall, and in its descent found gravity.
He calculated trajectories of comets, the push
and pull of tides, composed in furious formulae,
made melodies of math and motion.

For eight decades he swam in the ocean
of knowledge, rode tidal waves of euphoria,
fought undertows of despair, struggled with
conversation, never savored love nor friendship.
Some might call this failure, but I see imperfect
perfection, the most human trait of all.

The numbers sang arias as he crafted infinite
theories, ordering the universe with metered
precision. Was the music enough to fill
his life? Three hundred fifty years later,
its transcendent tune flows through ours—
a scientific refrain echoed around the globe.


Kevin had over 30 entries in the first-ever science poetry contest. Last weekend, he held a reading and the poems were terrific. (There was a seven-year-old and a thirteen-year-old—both girls—who knocked it out of the park.) They announced the winners, and my poem was selected for first prize! I was grateful and pleased—who wouldn’t be?—and really, really surprised.

Nate, however, shrugged and said, “I knew you’d win.”

My daughter listened to the poem, then asked me to turn on the music.

I hope this contest becomes an annual tradition.

Until next time,

Guest Post on A Writer’s March

This year, in addition to participating in A Writer’s March, I’m doing two guest posts. I’ve joked with friends for years that writing is much like online dating. Well, A Writer’s March founder Samantha Tetangco challenged me to prove it in an essay. So here’s my post: If At First You Don’t Succeed: How Writing Resembles Dating


The writers who have contributed over the years to A Writer’s March are an amazing bunch. I’m honored to be a part of this inspiring group and thrilled to be helping with the blog.  Go check it out!

Until next time,

Tomorrow I’m Reading at the Valona Deli Poetry Series

Tomorrow I, along with Kirston Koths, will be featured at the Valona Deli Poetry Series. I’ll be reading from my debut poetry collection, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism.  The event takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. in funky Crockett, California. An open mic will follow the featured readers.


It’s an honor to have my work selected for this long-running poetry series, which is hosted by Connie Post.

If you are in the area, please plan to attend.

Until next time,

Featured Reader at the Valona Deli Poetry Series

I’m excited to announce that my debut poetry collection, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, will be featured at the Valona Deli Poetry Series on Sunday, January 8, 2017.  The event takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. in funky Crockett, California. Kirston Koths and I will be the featured poets, followed by an open mic.


It’s an honor to have my work selected for this long-running poetry series, which is hosted by my friend and fellow autism mom, Connie Post.

If you are in the area, please plan to attend.

Until next time,

Release Party Scheduled for Across An Aqueous Moon

logoAfter a year and a half of waiting, Finishing Line Press released my first book, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, last month. I am over the moon (no pun intended).

I have scheduled a book release party (aka book launch) on Sunday, December 4, 2016, at Swirl on the Square, 21 South Livermore Avenue, in downtown Livermore, one block from Lizzy Fountain.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. A  reading from the book is planned, followed by a book signing. Copies will be available for sale at the event.

The flyer for the event is below. Feel free to share it and help me spread the word!

Book Release Party2.001

Please plan to attend and bring all your friends. I look forward to seeing you there!

Until next time,

Pre-Sale Orders Now Shipping

If you pre-ordered a copy of my new poetry chapbook, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, Finishing Line Press will begin shipping this week!


So check your mailbox. It will be there soon!

Thank you for your ongoing love and support through my publishing journey.

Until next time,

It’s Here!

At long last, my first poetry chapbook, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, is here!

Yes, it’s a few months late. But does that really matter at this point?

I can honestly say, no, it does not. Any pain and suffering is forgotten once the book is in your hands.


As soon as I opened the box, I sat down and read the book cover to cover. Thankfully, I found no typos! But mostly what I realized is that I am so, so proud of my work.

It was a long, strange journey to arrive at this place, starting with a nasty thumb infection and a random text. Nearly two years later, I have a book. A tiny book, but a book nonetheless. My first.

This is such an exciting time!  I hope it’s a sign of good things to come. Now I need to learn all I can about book promotion….

Until next time,

Final Galleys Are Here!

The final galleys for Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism have arrived!!

For those of you that don’t know, galleys are the publisher’s layout of a forthcoming book. It’s kind of like the publishing version of a draft.


About six weeks ago I reviewed the first set of galleys for typos, errors, and any missing stuff. Then the  Finishing Line Press editors made the necessary changes, and now we are doing another (final) round of review. So far I have only found one minor typo on the back cover–which I did not review last time. Still, I am being extra careful.

This is both an exciting and terrifying time for me. Across An Aqueous Moon goes to print in about a week!

Next week I will be done with my obsessive re-reading of the book and will return with a new installment of An Unplanned Life. Thank you for your ongoing love and support.

Until then,

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