Featured Local Author:

Monika Rose

​​The daily study of minute details and noting changes, patterns, and moments caught in time, plus commentary on the timeless foibles and simple pleasures of life in a highly philosophical and enquiring meandering way, is still, after all these years, a refreshing and delightful read.

I marvel at how Thoreau describes Walden Pond as the eye of God, with trees lining the shore, eyelashes. The cover of my poetry book likens to that very image, captured by Ron Pickup, photographer. If you turn the book upside down and view the cover, you’ll see what I mean. Thank you, Thoreau."

As a child, and into my teen years, I considered the library my second home.  I would walk to our neighborhood library, a converted mansion, read there for hours, and upon closing time, carry home piles of books, over my limit, my arms aching, or when a little older, stack them in the side baskets of my bike. While it was an added bonus that my mother excused me from some household duties if she noticed I was reading intently and didn't want to disturb my learning, I had a passion for the words, a hunger that could not be filled. 

As a young child, I read books as if I were gulping water. I thirsted for knowledge of the world and of stories—always the stories about people from different lands, historical figures, reading about Pocahantas, Geronimo, Lincoln, pirates, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, and even practical books about crafts and art, and books about animals, horses, nature. I remember getting happily lost in a particular series like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew books, Andrew Lang's Fairy books (every color), the Clara Barton series, Florence Nightingale, the Borrowers, Wind in the Willows, and more.

But I wasn’t content with the children’s section. The kindly, matronly librarian always had to shoo me out of the adult section as children weren't allowed there, but I discovered poetry, history, science, archeology, travel, and so much more. She’d have a twinkle in her eye when she scolded me. Finally, she suggested that I get a note from my mother that gave permission for me to stay on the adult side because she didn’t have time to go in the stacks and search for me every day.  I brought her the note, and she had a few selections already waiting for me.

Later in life, my children enjoyed the same delights in reading—the frequent library visits were integral to our daily routine and joyful journey of educating ourselves. Talk about creating life-long learners, the educational catch phrase—libraries are vital to the goal, and so are librarians, right up there with teachers in high esteem.  

I remember one of my college professors once telling me something that stayed with me the rest of my life. As a young student of literature in my first year of college, probably looking overwhelmed, I met him in the campus library while I was researching a literary topic for his class. He had a couple of books in his hand, and waited to pass in the narrow aisle as I selected my volumes. “Glad to see you picked out the right books,” he said approvingly. “You know, all you need to do is read everything there is to read about a particular subject and you become the professor.” I never forgot that.

Libraries send us into our world so that we can know it, imagine it, play with it—a safe, secure habitat to feed on a diet of words that makes meaning for us in our lives.  The many guides and voices, our friends and wise travelers speaking from the spine, lead the way. I can’t imagine a world without libraries. It would be a silent world indeed. 

Click to read a wonderful poem about libraries & reading by Monika!

More about Monika:

I keep going back in my mind to why I began reading and how it came about.  My first language was German, as an immigrant not born in this country, and until I started school, I picked up English from watching Bonanza, listening to the boarders in our rooming house speak, listening to my parents' attempts to learn the language, and the ethnic children in the Los Angeles neighborhood teaching me what they could. 

My mother gave me one of my first books, the Golden Encyclopedia Volume 1, that she got free at the grocery store with her purchases. It began with the letter A, including wonderful words like Aardvark, and Abalone, and I prided myself on being able to spell the word 'Archaeopteryx' before the age of five. 

That ancient bird symbolized my flight into language, even though the bird itself they said then couldn’t fly (but now they think it was able to fly).  Soon, my mother brought home volumes 2 and 3, but sadly, the special ended abruptly, and I never did have the entire set, satisfying myself in reading the three volumes over and over again, poring over the words and illustrations.

One of my first novels was Black Beauty, and although I only knew a few words, and archaeopteryx wasn't one of them, I looked up the words I didn't know in the dictionary, which didn't help because I couldn't read the explanation, but I didn’t give up. Black Beauty ignited a love for reading about horses—later Walter Farley series with the Black Stallion, and so many more. My love of reading ignited a love for horses and animals that has been a part of me all my life.

I don't ever remember my mother reading to me, but she would tell me stories while she did the endless mounds of laundry and daily cooking for the family and tenants. My parents went to night school to learn English and I remember watching them study in the evening under the soft glow of a light, while I was supposed to be asleep. I would try to read by the crack of light coming in under the doorway. That was when I think my love of reading began. Flashlights hidden under the covers and reading way into the night continued for years. 

Some notable comments posted on Amazon:

"Monika Rose writes of life as a river, ever moving, ever changing as one travels upon it. Her poems speak of nature, of human emotion, birth and death. Her humor sparkles like the sunlight in the shallows as it reveals the smooth, golden river rocks beneath the surface, and the mood of her writing changes as one enters the turbulence of the rapids, the depths of despair and the stillness of grief. This is a lovely work with beautiful photography, one you will surely enjoy." 

​​"A rich collection of poems that hit the mark and reflect many universal human experiences. Rose's "Song for Sisters," for example, illuminates the shifting energies among and between myself and my siblings in a way leading to acceptance of the discomfort of what is and the hope for change. I like taking Rose's poems a few at a time, open for the arrows flying straight to my heart."

​"Rose has earned well-deserved esteem as an advocate of community and regional arts in the northern California area, generally volunteering to support other artists beyond her own personal creative endeavors. Here, one appreciates the opportunity to see her come into her own right or write in this elegant rendition, perceptive both of the human heart and its natural surroundings. Poets such as Mary Oliver in her Pulitzer Prize winning American Primitive come to mind as writers who are able to present a deeply private vision entwined with a more universal perspective of the vital elements of nature."

​"This delightful book is on my Kindle-friendly collection so that I can access it often. The imagery and composition style are whimsical yet critical to the message delivery. It's an honor to all of us Calaverasians to have this caliber of artist in our midst. World, take note! We have awesome talent in the Motherlode and here's outstanding proof! Thank you, Monika, for sharing your work, and for the photography utilized! Stunning production."

Monika's story of becoming an author:

I initially studied poetry at CSU Long Beach, with a drama and English emphasis, and then really got interested in fiction as well when I took some courses in film and short story writing. My primary love was writing poetry, though, and I spent years studying and writing poetry.

I think that poets like Theodore Roethke, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, and so many influential poets that I’ve studied, lit the spark. I shared my love of literature and writing with my high school students over the years and honed my craft by studying personally with poets and writers such as Sharon Olds, Robert Hass, Jane Hirshfield, Gary Snyder, Len Roberts, Gary Short, Pattiann Rogers, with the Squaw Valley Community of Writers at their conferences, like Art of the Wild, and the summer writing conferences, attending other conferences and workshops across California, teaching AP literature courses and college English, and in my Masters program back in the 90s where I studied with Mary Mackey for fiction and Dennis Schmitz in poetry.

I sent my work out sparingly, but it was printed in several publications, and then through networking, meeting other poets and writers, attending readings and sharing my work, I built a readership.  I revised the poems and shaped up a collection, and when my editor and publisher, Ron Pickup, GlenHill Publications out of Soulsbyville, wanted to publish my body of work in its entirety, he thought it was time to bind it into one large collection and get it out into the world. He helped me immensely, selecting those pieces that would resonate and reflect my best work.

It’s a 212-page volume titled River by the Glass, available on Amazon, through Small Press Distribution, as an eBook and print book, with copies available at Manzanita Arts Emporium and local book stores. It’s going into a third printing now, so that’s nice to know it’s out there and being read.

The last few years have been filled with short story and novel writing projects, with another poetry collection getting readied, and two novels in progress as well some children’s books getting polished. Editing projects for others have taken precedence, as that’s my job, but watch for a debut novel coming in the near future. VISIT MONIKA'S WEBSITE!

Monika's story of coming to Calaveras:

My husband and I relocated our little family up to the Valley Springs area in 1983 from an adventurous, rugged life near the Kings Canyon wilderness area east of Fresno, and before that, from Southern California and its beaches and crowds.

Raised in the Los Angeles basin, but inspired by our family mountain cabin, I relished the escape from an urban asphalt and cement to a rural environment in Calaveras County. We found a larger plot of land with more acreage outside of San Andreas and settled there, built our own home with on-the-job training and a lot of labor, and my husband developed a small cattle ranch, as well as creating large hard-edge design wall sculptures in his studio.

I continued my teaching career as a high school and Delta college English teacher, obtained a Masters Degree in English in the 1990s, and commuted down to Lodi for over 30 years.

I formed Writers Unlimited in 1984, editing chapbooks and publications with other writers who felt as I did, that writing needs readers, and we honed our craft over the years, meeting weekly for critique sessions and organizing inspiring writing events.

The group evolved into a small publishing company called Manzanita Writers Press, formed in 2009, in order to promote and publish local writers. You can find us hanging out in our Community Arts Center and gallery at 1211 S Main Street in downtown historic Angels Camp. VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

"I think Henry David Thoreau’s 'Walden' is still an important work to read, especially for those who live in our nature-rich region. ​​

Monika Rose is author of River by the Glass, a book of poems. She is also editor for a number of poetry collections, including: 

  • Wine, Cheese & Chocolate

  • Wild Edges

  • ​Manzanita: Poetry & prose of the Mother Lode & Sierra, ​volumes 1 - 5

Monika's work appears in numerous publications, such as Shadows of Light, an anthology of poetry and photography of the Sierra, and in a Yosemite poetry anthology by Scrub Jay Press, Yosemite Poets. Also: 

  • Tule Review 

  • Rattlesnake Review 

  • Poetry Now 

  • Mindprint Review 

  • Squaw Valley Review 

  • The Journal 

  • Refrigerate After Opening 

  • Mokehillion Review

  • Wild Edges

  • Wine, cheese and Chocolate 

  • Your Daily Poem 

  • Medusa’s Kitchen 

  • Pieces: Melding Memory Out of the Fire 

  • Writer Interview Series 

  • Calaveras Enterprise, and more...

A few of Monika's favorite (local) things:​​

Festival or Event- Mark Twain's Wild West Fest, Gold Rush Writer's Retreat, and the Celtic Faire in Sonora (used to be in Calaveras).

Historic Figure - Mark Twain, of course, but also John Muir.
Tourist Attraction - Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California Caverns, and our lovely rivers (Stanislaus, Mokelumne, and Calaveras).

Food & Drink - Murphys Hotel alligator appetizers, when they have them; wine tasting at Camp's or other locales (like Murphys), and great food at Crusco's Italian restaurant in Angels Camp!
Museum or Gallery - Angels Camp Museum, and our County Courthouse Museum. Also, of course, our own Manzanita Arts Emporium in Angels Camp - such a relaxing and pleasant place!

  Open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00-4:00  

"I love to write poetry near a river, creek, running water – my best work comes out of writing outside, on the deck with the oaks and pines waving me on, or by a riverside. The kinetic energy of water and wind moves me."