Benicia Library to host Readings & Conversations

Yearning to Breathe Free—A Community Journal of 2020
Plan to attend on Sunday, Aug. 28 (on Zoom)

Readings and Conversations from the book:
The Impact of the Times

Sunday, August 28, 3-5 p.m.
Sunday, September 18, 3-5 p.m.
Sunday, October 16, 3-5 p.m.
Zoom link:
To purchase the book, see below.

How this came about in Benicia…

More than sixty writers from diverse ages, backgrounds, and circumstances contributed to the Benicia Herald’s newspaper column “Going the Distance” from April 1 to Election Day, 2020. Those writings appear in the book Yearning to Breathe Free, published by Benicia Literary Arts

Benicia readers of the column called it a 2020 “lifeline,” a “chronicle of our shared history,” with writings that “consistently stir truth…desperately needed truth.”

Collected in the book are the personal responses of a community, presented as they appeared, day by day, during the thick of uncertainty and doubt.

The period spanning the onset of coronavirus restrictions and the 2020 elections is one of the most eventful, demanding, exhausting, scary and scarring in our recent history.  We were not all in  the same boat, but we all lived through the same storm.  “The craving for normalcy growls like an empty stomach,” Poet Laureate Emerita Lois Requist wrote in early April. In October an anonymous twelve-year-old asked, “Dear Future, Will you be there for me?”

Yearning to Breathe Free stands as a historical record from our small corner of America, a raw, unmediated testimony to hope and fear, anger and despair, inspired by events as they unfolded.

The writings are also testimony to the power of poetry and story to encourage individuals, strengthen community, and confront significant issues in a time of multiple crises.

You are invited…

You are invited to attend any or all of three upcoming readings & conversations, sponsored by the Benicia Public Library at 3-5 p.m. on August 28, September 18, and October 16.  Each event will feature a different program of selected readings from Yearning To Breathe Free.  The readings will be presented chronologically, as they appear in the book, providing a perspective on the intense events of 2020 from April 1 through Election Day.

Here’s the link:
Meeting ID: 863 3771 4167
Passcode: 515278

Anticipating the reading in which she will take part, Poet Laureate Emerita Johanna Ely said, “I look forward to hearing the other poems, and joining in a conversation about how it felt to suddenly realize that our lives had changed in a huge way.”

The readings and conversations will offer opportunity to reflect on our shared history, strengthen our community, and support one another. To look back and to move beyond. Please join in the first event on Sunday August 28. For more details, go to


Yearning To Breathe Free—A Community Journal of 2020, published by Benicia Literary Arts, is available at Bookshop Benicia and on the BLA website,  and can be borrowed from the Benicia Public Library.