(March 2014) Ransom Stephens, left, Susan Bono, center, and John Crowley are the brains behind a new literary series featuring guest authors and an open-mike session for writers to share their work. Photo by Terry Hankins.

Sampling the Written Word: Quarterly Literary Reading Series

by Yovanna Bieberich,  Argus Courier


For one evening, Aqus Café Foundry Wharf will turn into a saloon — the kind that quenches the thirst for the written word.

Petaluma author Ransom Stephens, Tiny Lights editor-in-chief Susan Bono and John Crowley of Aqus Café have teamed up to create “Speakeasy: A Quarterly Literary Saloon,” in an effort to showcase published writers and encourage others to share their writing.

The first literary saloon (in a play on words, the organizers are calling it a “saloon” instead of “salon”) will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, featuring guest writers Gwynn O’Gara, Patricia Volonakis Davis and Dan Coshnear, along with Stephens and Bono.

“This is in line with my goal of wanting Aqus to be a literary and cultural center for Petaluma,” said Crowley. “I’ve known Ransom and Susan for a long time. The three of us came up with this idea for a literary saloon and have finally started to move forward with it.”

The quarterly series offers new or experienced writers a chance to meet published authors and hear their work. There will also be a few open mike slots for people to share their own writings.

“It’s a bit unique,” said Stephens. “The plan is to invite writers, whoever may be in town, to talk about their work. We didn’t want the saloon to be too pretentious, so we thought we’d have a couple open-mike slots that will be raffled off.”

“We wanted to start with people with a solid following,” added Bono of the guest speakers. “We also wanted to offer a warm, exciting, varied program, and I think that’s what we’ve got happening.”

O’Gara is the current Sonoma County poet laureate and is the author of “Snake Woman Poems,” “Fixer-Upper” and “Winter at Green Haven.” She has taught with California Poets in the schools for 20 years.

Davis is author of the cross-cultural memoir, “Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece,” and founder of Harlot’s Sauce Radio.

Coshnear is author of “Jobs and Other Preoccupations” and is editor of “95 Percent Naked.”

Stephens is a Petaluma resident and professor of particle physics who introduced his new novel, “The God Patent,” last year.

Fellow Petaluman Bono is a writing teacher, publisher and editor-in-chief of “Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative.”

In addition to filling a need for writers to network with each other, Bono added that the admission fee will go to a worthy cause.

“We’ve decided that the admission fee, which is also on a sliding scale, will be used to benefit the Phoenix Theater’s after-school tutoring program,” said Bono. “It was our idea that through this we could also help John Crowley out by having the saloon at Aqus, and support literary events and projects in the community.”

Admission to the saloon is $5, or free with the purchase of a meal. The next quarterly literary saloon is scheduled for July 22.

For more information, visit www.aquscafé.com.