Monday, November 1, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
‘Poet, novelist, and the grande dame of belles letters’
by Frank Robertson
Sonoma West Staff Writer
Published: Friday, July 23, 2010 10:57 AM PDT
A celebration in the Sebastopol Community Center this Saturday (July 24) will pay tribute to Marianne Ware, the West County poet and teacher who died in Santa Rosa on June 21. She was 74.
The cause of death was complications from diabetes, said friends.
Ware was a founding member of the Russian River Writers Guild in the 1980s and became a beloved teacher and mentor to innumerable West County writers who praised her wit, passion, irreverence and progressive political activism.
“She was an outspoken, flamboyant, creative person who really wanted to help other people find themselves through writing,” said Sonoma County writer Simone Wilson, who met Ware in the 1980s when the Russian River Writers Guild held weekly poetry readings at Garbo’s, a bar and community gathering place in a former bowling alley in Guernewood Park.
A Marianne Ware Memorial Page is now accessible online where friends have posted messages in her memory.
“Poet, novelist and the grande dame of belles letters — the epistolary packin’ mama and mentor of countless Sonoma County writers,” wrote writer and Russian River Writers Guild member Maureen Hurley.
Ware was retired from teaching english and creative writing at Santa Rosa Junior College. Her most recent book, “The meaning of Water,” was published this year as part of a Redwood Writers project through the California Writers Club.
The collection of stories “runs the gamut from intense childhood experiences to contemporary satire aimed at genealogists, would-be poetry contest winners and Vegan dietary diehards,” said a Redwood Writers Club description of the book that’s available online at redwoodwriters.org.
The book “was something she was so proud of at the end of her life,” said friend and fellow writer Kate Farrell. “It was a special part of the last years of her life.”
Ware moved to Guerneville with her husband and three daughters in 1969, organized and energized numerous creative writing groups over the years and produced several volumes of poetry and prose of her own.
She received her MFA degree from Vermont College in 1984 and published poetry, fiction and non-fiction in more than a hundred literary magazines, anthologies and tabloids including “Red Diaper Babies: Growing up in the Communist Left” (University of Illinois Press); “Salt Water, Sweet Water” and Cartwheels on the Faultline” (Florient Press). Her work has also appeared in Iowa Woman, the Modularist Review, Green Fuse and many others. She was the recipient of an NEA grant for her fiction. Her poetry chapbook, “Bodies Nearly Touching,” was published by Doris Green Editions. A satiric novel, “The Warzog Era,” followed.
Ware shared her love of writing, along with her enthusiasm and irreverent sense of humor with generations of students over her 21 years as an English teacher at SRJC.
“The only things she loved more than a good book or a beautifully written poem were her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren,” said her family. “Her lively wit and gift with words lives on in them.”
She is survived by her husband of 55 years, David Ware; daughters, Laurie Celli, Wendy Whitson, and Carrie Ware-Kawamoto; grandchildren, Angelo, Vincent, Nicholas, Gabriel, Rosemary, Mia, and Carly; and great-grandchildren, Sofia and Dylan.
She had wanted an “awake” before her death, rather than a wake, said friends.
The July 24 memorial will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Sebastopol Community Center Youth Annex, 390 Morris Street, Sebastopol.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I first met Marianne through Lee Perron—they were coordinating the Russian River Writers' Guild. I was newly arrived to poetry, and before I knew it, I was roped into the Writers' Guild, which became both my teething ring and my training ground.
Little did I know, I was also fresh fodder—grist for the mill—to help run it. And later, I was left holding the bag. But I learned to stick it out for the duration. At the time, I was living out of my car after a bad breakup. She even found me a place to live—at her daughter Laurie's cabins.
Because Marianne was adamant that prose also be represented at the RRWG reading series, and because of her, I learned to dabble in prose. Dyslexic that I am, I discovered what writing—like people—came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Not just poems and stories, but letters, notes, lists. They all served to inform.
Marianne brought the light of writing into the lives of so many of us. She encouraged us to find our own true authentic voice. To spread our wings and to fly close—but not too close—to the sun. She always encouraged the next generation of fledgling writers: Doug Powell, Glenn Ingersoll, Trane deVore. The Guild offered a platform for new and established writers to read together.
We booked poets & writers—even musicians from near and far to share their love of the word. Utah Phillips, Rosalee Sorrells, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Ed Balchowski. Some of the writers she encouraged made it to the big stage: Andrei Codrescu, Michael Oandatje, D.A. Powell, Jane Hirshfield come to mind. But the history of the Guild is a whole other story. We are here to honor Marianne today.
It takes a lot of energy to run a poetry & prose reading series. Little by little, Marianne was letting go, transferring the reins of power over to us—as she had set her sights in another direction. She wanted to finish her epistolary novel about growing up red diaper baby.
Marianne was a consummate political activist like her father before her, and her arena was fighting discrimination against women and she was an outspoken spokesperson for people with disabilities. And though she had major health issues, she persevered. She taught me to fight the system and take a stance to redress societal wrongs. She taught me that poetry matters.
Marianne turned that determination to earn a MFA at Goddard. I admired her steadfastness. She became the phoenix, and shed her old self. Resurrected, she was. And it led her to the next significant part of her life's work as an English/ Creative Writing instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College. And despite physical hardship and mounting health issues, she persevered. She empowered another generation of would-be writers to follow their own voice.
I met Marianne during her second life transition—from mother and wife, to that of writer. I also witnessed the next transition from writer to teacher and from teacher to sage. But her reign as sage was cut short too soon. She taught me to live in the moment. We are all here "For the duration" as Marianne would say.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
In The Meaning of Water, Marianne tells us she began distance swimming even before her full adolescence. Whether swimming or rowing, water was always her medium. In the same book Marianne depicts with horrific clarity the roiling waters of adolescent confusion and heart-ache. These were for Marianne really the same waters. She was, finally, the master of both. She mastered the one by swimming thrice weekly in public pools through much of her adult life, and she mastered the other by means of freely flowing ink. Through talking, saying, writing -- with both plaintive voice and a commanding presence -- she always kept afloat. And our swimmer has not drowned even now.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Published in the Press Democrat from July 3 to July 4, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Marianne was my dear friend for 34 years. There are so many stories to tell, so many memories. Where do I begin? A blog is not enough space!
Our friendship was a rare thing. Marianne was a friend, a sister, and a mentor. While I often felt that I was the Sancho Panza to her Don Quixote during our time with the Russian River Writers' Guild, she insisted that I always see myself as a writer before anything else. In addition to her writing, I was in awe of her political activism and her social conscience. A "red diaper baby," Marianne never forgot the downtrodden or disenfranchised. In her eyes, every person had worth, something to say, something to contribute.
And there were funny times, too. She liked to call me her "lesbian lover," despite the fact that neither of us was a lesbian. But I understood her quirky humor: we were soul mates. We'd often have lunch at the Northwood Lodge, just outside of Guerneville, which she referred to it as "our place." She would sneak a hamburger and beg me not to tell Dave. She never fully latched on to the tenets of vegetarianism
So, how do you blog about such deep friendship and love? It's impossible. The Internet could never contain all that was Marianne Ware. All I can say is, how extraordinary my life has been for having Marianne in it "for the duration" (her words). Adiós, mi amor. Te quiero.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Marianne's memorial will be on Saturday, July 24th from 3:30-5:00 p.m., in the Youth Annex of the Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. Please pass this along to anyone else who knew her.
Hope to see you there,
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wait, I remember the poem now! It's in a drawer somewhere, if I haven't burned it. Yes, it truly was crap.
Ah, Marianne, thank you, dear, for your warmth and gentleness. And also, as I came to know you, your candor and your kvetching. But, always, with the light of understanding and a rare generosity underneath.
Marianne Ware taught both in the classroom and by example. She was not seeking fame. She merely loved poetry and kept it in her garden. She gave seedlings to others. She made more than poems. She made a life into which poems would always be welcomed. What a pleasure for me and for so many others to have shared in the bounty of that life.
D. A. Powell
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Both Karen and I encouraged Marianne to co-publish a collection of her short stories with us in 2007. Thankfully, she agreed and her fine book, Meaning of Water, was released in March, 2008.
Last summer and fall, we were again able to promote her book and purchase more copies from the distributing publisher, Unlimited Publishing, and deliver these to Marianne in the nursing home.
UP not only kept Marianne's book, Meaning of Water, in distribution, but prepared a hard cover edition as a legacy for her and her family and featured it as Book of the Month. This book, Marianne's only published work of her own short stories, was very important to her and did improve the quality of her life in her last months. She received a final shipment of both hard cover and paperback books last fall and was thrilled to open their pages.
Anyone who would like to own a copy of Meaning of Water: it is available online through the Redwood Writers website: http://redwoodwriters.org/publications-products/redwood-writers-pod
Or the publisher's website: http://www.unlimitedpublishing.com/ware
All royalties go to Marianne Ware; I'm in touch with the publisher to have the royalties paid to her surviving widower.
Redwood has a limited number of copies that we will sell at our meetings; all proceeds to go to Marianne's family.
Our branch is planning to honor Marianne at our August 8th meeting with readings from her book and some brief testimonies by her friends. Details still in the works.
I am so glad that our club was able to participate in Marianne's work and her lively, creative spirit!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I had the honor of belonging to a critique group with Marianne, Donna Champion and Karen Batchelor. During that time, Marianne was working on her novel The Warzog Era. I helped chauffer her and solve some of the stickier computer issues.
Her alter-ego, Stella Warzog, roars through the pages, letting others describe the amazing Stella, until see speaks for herself in the end. Stella wins her court case in the novel. (How sweet is fiction.)
Marianne ached for herself and all other downtrodden souls from the cruelties of life, but she had a wicked on-target humor too.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse of The Warzog Era by Marianne Ware. —
Preamble: The Decision
Attorney at Law, Daniel Vastwind, awoke early on the morning of August 10th in a highly agitated state. He’d been dreaming about his most difficult client, Stella Warzog, who’d shown up in court wearing a purple velvet hat and an iridescent turquoise dress. Then she’d bellowed at her own colleague and witness, Irina Magnanopolis, who was already on the stand. “Don’'t forget to tell how our sexist pig of a Department Chair called me a ‘fat assed crone’.”
Stella’s outburst in Daniel’s dream was typical of the woman in real life. At the drop of an opportunity she’d open her mouth and reveal everything to anybody: former students, strangers in restaurants, inquiring reporters (of all people), though Vastwind had told her, adamantly, “DON’T discuss the case with anyone!”
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For Gerrye Payne, The Midwife
I remember when we lived on 112th Street in New York City
During the sousing shortage of the late 1940s.
We shared one room, the three of us, in a decrepit old building,
Just half a block and around the corner
From the famous Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Our beds were nearly touching,
A community kitchen down the hallway,
I’d get lost in the corridors looking for the showers,
My father, a dyed in the blood-red radical,
A believer in, “The nobility of the common man,”
Reveled in that atmosphere:
The inconveniences and lack of privacy,
Our beds nearly touching.
My mother swore it was a privilege to live with him,
Down among the multitudes,
We saw twisted, legless wonders
Trussed in carts along the sidewalk, selling pencils.
And I asked to give them money,
But he said, “No! We have to change the system;
Charity perpetuates the scourge of Capitalism.”
“Oh Please,” I begged. “It’s cold; right now it’s cold.
My God they must be hungry.”
Which made him turn his wrath on me, to rage
That Heaven would be made on earth, in time, by men like him,
And I must never take that name in vain (the Lord’s)
Because it meant I thought He lived, was not a myth.
Angry Father, righteous Father,
Spewed his doctrine, leftwing gospel , on the pavement,
Struck me blind and mute and once more unaccountable
In the chill of my eleventh winter,
A Baptism, then, of ice instead of fire,
Down the street, a half a block, around the corner
From the famous Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Frigid, rigid, pious Father,
Was there forgiveness in his teachings,
Opiates for someone small and weak and disenfranchised?
Not until I took communion:
Bit the hook, the Party line and the Manifest with the wafer.
Then I could worship him at midnight
When his fellows had departed,
Wise yet furtive in their travels,
See him haloed in the half-light
As he strained against my mother,
While our beds were nearly touching.
I remember in the ’50s on the West Coast
Where we’d come to escape from a tribunal
Led by someone named McCarthy,
How my Father, martyred Father
Gave his relatively young life
For the true Cause and to cancer,
How my mother, sainted mother,
Seemed resigned and then unburdened at his passing,
How it took me so much longer
To become a disbeliever
See our beds no longer touching.
Now I’m older, cured of visions
Of a true church up the block, around the corner,
Or a great and holy Father
Turning chaos into order.
But there are children, little children
Always looking for a Savior
As they tremble in the corridors.
Suffer children, suffer children;
He is risen in the Jungle
Where they’ve fallen with their bodies nearly touching.
On the road to Delano
in the late 1960s
the atheist’s daughter
(a tarnished young woman)
ponders this question:
“What was his name
on the road to Damascus,
Saul something or other?”
A curious thought
for a wanton blasphemer
heading north on the highway,
up from Los Angeles,
over the Grapevine
in a blue station wagon
covered with slogans:
“Viva la Causa!”
Raised as a cynic,
she is secretly lusting
to give herself up to
someone who is worthy,
a cause that has meaning.
She’s a penitent,
this journey a pilgrimage.
Not Jesus her Savior
but a poor campesino
Cesar Chavez the leader
of the Farm Worker’s Movement.
San Joaquin is her holy land,
Delano is Calvary;
redemption for bad girls,
salvation for gringos.
“And what was her name,”
[comes another odd question]
“the harlot who washed him,
sponged dirt from his ankles,
she who was pardoned for all indiscretions,
the sins of the fathers
no longer her burden?”
Back home from Delano
in the late 1960s
comes the atheist’s daughter
who’s paid homage to Cesar
(his love like a mother’s).
Now bathed in the aura
of that pacifist martyr,
she’s become a believer.
THEY’RE STILL DRIVING
(I’m Still Crippled)
Confused at the Interachange,
he went all the way to Glendora;
90 miles in the opposite direction
away from home.
Then, miraculously off the Freeway
parked, but with the motor running,
he had one of his seizures.
Luckily a kind man found him,
called his family instead of the Authorities:
a diagnosed epileptic
having no business behind the wheel.
Soon enough, it didn’t matter;
In ’56, brakes and steering gone,
his engine stopped. Lights out!
Obviously he’d gone over the side,
though no one mentioned a crash.
She’d begun lessons immediately,
mateless, then, chauffeurless.
But her musculature betrayed her;
stiffening in tight corners;
five times she was tested.
After a year Allstate dropped her
for damaging parked vehicles.
The CHP said she held their record
for slow moving violations.
Back to riding busses
she let other men take her.
In my dreams, though, they drag on the Highway,
playing “Chicken,” “Pardon My Dust,”
and “Crinkle Fender.”
She careens, he swerves;
the road narrows.
First I’m with one, then the other.
“Slow down! Let me out!”
I begin crying, and then--
“Stop, please, you’re trying to kill me--
for Gerrye Payne and Richard Welin
When asked how it’s done,
We, the artfully married,
Hats full of ready homilies,
Pull out predictable allusions
To ourselves as: barnacles,
Still clinging to a ship in drydock,
Or a stubborn pair of apples
Withering on a bare November tree.
More cunningly we’ll move
To conjure clowns
Cavorting in an empty arena
After the circus leaves town,
Or old war horses galumphing
In the aftermath of the big parade.
Shrewdly, we will never show the hand
Revealing us as: cannibals,
Stranded by a sudden winter,
Donner-passing the time,
Our hunger, and storms away.
Then, by a not so clever sleight of mind
We could delude ourselves the most
If we forget to say
The whole routine is done with mirrors:
When either face shines back a likeness
Of the other’s private yearning.
And, in that fast-shuffle of illusion,
As we respond to what we call,
“Our partner’s desperation,”
That’s how we work our special magic,
The hocus-pocus of this long time coupling.
MARIANNE WARE, born in New York City on March 24th, 1936, now lives in the country near Guerneville, California. She is a 1976 graduate of Sonoma State University. She has coordinated a successful prose and poetry reading series in Sonoma County for a number of years and is the co-founder of the Russian River Women Writers' Workshop. She is also a member of The Poetry Organization for Women, and The Poetry Society of America. She is currently at work in her novel-in-progress, Real Writing.
Special Thanks to Pat Nolan and Doris Green Editions for the facsimile of this book.
Monday, June 21, 2010
An introduction by Donna Champion
Marianne Ware is many things to many people: daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and friend. From these numerous and varied roles has emerged a unique and gifted writer. Marianne's writing draws on her New York Jewish roots, life in California and the intricate weavings of the family structure.
After a thunderous midnight argument,