Pastoral Poets

Award-Winning Authors Read in 'Writers at Sonoma' Series
September 15, 2015

Weeding, harvesting and watering sounds more like farm living than the life of a poet, but those two lives intersected at Southern Wisconsin's "Poetry Farm" in the mid-2000s, where scribes worked the land to tune out distractions of the Internet or urban world. On Oct. 6, Lisa Fishman and Richard Meier, two contemporary poets who were leaders of the farm, read at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University.

The pair comes to SSU as part of the Writers at Sonoma series, which brings internationally renowned writers and poets to Sonoma State University each semester to connect students with the literary world. "They're both terrific readers of their work," said English professor Gillian Conoley, director of Writers at Sonoma.

Fishman and Meier are no strangers to the agricultural setting of Northern California. Their participation in the 12-acre Poetry Farm helped provide a creative retreat for writers during summer internship sessions. Guests of the farm were given food and lodging in return for approximately four hours of labor in the gardens. When not working as farmhands, residents were free to write, often inspired by the landscape as well as their architecturally unique dwellings.

Conoley says the farm's influence on Fishman, who still lives in Wisconsin, is evident in her writing. Fishman's poems "A Scarecrow Grew by Night in the Field" and "Sun Flew Over" were published in issue 16 of Volt, Sonoma State's nationally renowned literary magazine. "Her work is pastoral, lyrical, even erotic," said Conoley, director of the magazine. Fishman's sixth book of poetry, "24 Pages and Other Poems," was published this year by Wave Books.

Meier is a writer-in-residence at Carthage College. His latest effort, "In the Pure Block of the Whole Imaginary," was published in 2012 by Omnidawn. "His new book is concerned with the sentence as a formal element in his poems," said Conoley. "It's very imaginative work."

Writers at Sonoma takes place in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center on Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, parking is $5-$8 on campus. For more information visit