Friday, July 23, 2010

Sonoma West Obit

Founding member of Russian River Writers Guild Marianne Ware dies from diabetes complications

‘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

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.

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