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Sacramento/San Joaquin Literary Watershed Project
Documenting the Writers and Writings of Our Region
Fall Quarter 2005 - Special Collections Exhibit
Poet Gary Snyder has written of the "watershed" as being the basic building block for defining natural regions, including the human occupants that shape these regions and are in turn shaped by them. The Sacramento/San Joaquin Literary Watershed Project is an attempt to comprehensively document the literary landscape of this region, delineated in a broad sense by the combined watershed of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their tributaries. The Great Central Valley, and its surrounding mountain hinterlands which make up this watershed, is the home of many writers. Some of these writers were born here, some moved here, some moved away from here, some simply move through. All were affected in some way, large or small, by the region they came to live in.
The Project, which is the basis for this exhibit, attempts to fully document for the first time the entire literary output of the region's many authors and small press publishers. Two years have been spent by the Rare Books Librarian in Special Collections in compiling a major new bibliography of the region's authors and publications and tracking down copies of books from bookstores throughout northern California and from the wide world of the Internet. Many of these books found and described are little known, and for a significant number of books, UC Davis holds the only known library copy. Collectively, they provide a full and rich picture of the lives and experiences of the many writers who have come to live for a time in the Watershed of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
While no single exhibit could adequately display the range of such a project, the intention of this exhibit is to give a sense of the breath, depth and complexity of the region's writers and writings. Examples are drawn from five subcategories of the region's literature, as follows: (1) regional anthologies, (2) fiction of the Central Valley, (3) poetry of the watershed, (4) regional small presses and (5) the region's literary magazines.