Batja Cates

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Batja Cates

As President of the Healdsburg Arts Council, Batja Cates originated and produced the first Sonoma County Literary Performing Arts Festival, Sonoma Word, in 2007. Sonoma Word was conceived in response to The Community Foundation's Annual Report, which excluded the Literary Arts in its offer of grants to the Performing Arts community. It was created in parallel with the Sonoma County Arts Council's Performance Sonoma event of the same year, with the joint theme: "Crossing Borders." Sonoma Word featured events in eleven towns, crossing borders of literature, art, dance, theater, improvisation and music, as well as nationalities. Healdsburg JHS students explored the Mexican border, crossing grades, subjects and cultures in a huge celebration of the arts. The Healdsburg Senior Center's autobiography writers did a reading, thus crossing age borders as well. Featured were such luminaries as The Kensington Ladies and Healdsburg Poet Laureates Vilma Ginzburg and Doug Stout, who performed with Batja and poet David Beckman in their poetry improvisation group, RoadWriters. Sonoma County Literary Laureate Geri DiGiorno presented her annual Petaluma Poetry Walk and the poetry group QuillPenInk created the first Guerneville Poetry Walk.Batja is also a stand-up poet, doing poetry improvisation at The Healdsburg Center Literary Cafe, which she originated and hosted for five years, as well as at The Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Mamalanda, Coffee Catz, Silver Mine Co., The French Garden, and other venues. She has been a popular emcee for Healdsburg literary events, as well as for The Peace or War Wall celebration at Paradise Ridge Winery featuring its creator, Deborah LeSueuer and author Maxine Hong Kingston with writers from her war veterans group. Local poets Shepherd Bliss, David Beckman, percussionist Kim Atkinson and dancers were also featured. Batja is the author of The Fabrication of Myth and other Healdsburg BizTales, the model for the Healdsburg JHS book of BizTales, which was featured in the Business section of the Press Democrat. The students gave two public readings and donated the proceeds of sales of their book to the Animal Shelter at the Healdsburg Chil Cook-off. Batja is one of the original members of the Healdsburg Literary Guild.

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