Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poetry Readings in the Foothills

March is the month for poetry readings in the Foothills. On March 4, 2011, I introduced elementary school students at the Pacoima Charter School to the "Chopin with Cherries" anthology (I discuss these two classes, the fifth grade and the second grade, in my Chopin with Cherries Blog).

On March 9, 2011, just before the Ash Wednesday services, I spent 15 minutes reading my poetry inspired by art, and accompanied by the wonderful Dr. Blues, who created different music for each poem. The program, entitled "Imagine Poetry," was presented by the Art, Culture, and Recreation Committee of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council as entertainment for the monthly STNC meeting, at North Valley Neighborhood City Hall, in Tujunga. It was a great experience to rehearse the poems with Dr. Blues and see him creating these accompaniments to fit the different mood and imagery of each poem. We went in a circle from art to poetry to music.

I read poems inspired by the art of Phyllis Doyon, Henry Fukuhara, Minoru Ikeda, Saralyn Lowenstein, Stephen West, and the music of Patsy Cline ("Always). I also made photographs and photo collages for some of these poems. Since it was an Ash Wednesday evening, I picked several melancholy and spiritual poems, with only a hint of my trademark "love stories." Here's one example:


you too will find the way into the orchard
where green fruit ripens among late blossoms
I found the path, I'm waiting there already

the birds chirp and frolic among the branches
they fly - cheerful in the orange sun

you too -
the path is not too narrow
the gate too distant

will find -
the most amazing jewel
of deep peace

the way -
will open soon
you will see

into the orchard
of love's riches
you will come

(c) 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk

At the STNC Meeting, I ended my reading with "Always" - a poem inspired to the same degree by the painting of Minoru Ikeda ("With You Always") and by Patsy Cline's unforgettable interpretation of Irving Berlin's love-song of the same title. I actually cite two lines from the refrain at the end of the poem; that part has to be sung. The audience typically joins in humming "I'll be loving you always" and everyone lives happily ever after. At the STNC Meeting the audience was silent, though. Having an excellent guitar player at my side, I was transformed into a singer for that occasion. I was later complemented for my lovely voice. Perhaps, I'll start yet another career...

"Consolation", published in my book Miriam's Iris, or Angels in the Garden (2008), though ready for presentation on March 9, was actually not included in the reading at the STNC Meeting. Instead, I will include it among the poems presented during the next Village Poets Reading at Bolton Hall, featuring the Spiritual Quartet of four poets.

The Spiritual Quartet consists of four female poets - Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Taoli-Ambika Talwar, and Maja Trochimczyk. We will appear in a structured program at the Village Poets Reading, on March 27, 2011, at 4:30 p.m., at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga.

Each poet comes from a different spiritual background, while sharing the focus on compassion, beauty, enlightenment, and a creative expression of positive energy. We weave poems around the themes of light, love, forgiveness, hope, and friendship. We contemplate nature, mountains, birds and gardens, and draw inspiration from the poetry of Rumi, Rilke, and from our own spiritual traditions. More information about the Spiritual Quartet and samples of our work may be found on the Village Poets Blog.

The Rilke inspiration for my "Consolation" came from his astoundingly rich, intense, and comforting Sonnet XVII from Book 2 of The Sonnets to Orpheus (cited in a translation by Robert Hunter, 1993):


Where, in what blessed garden of eternally flowing waters,
on what trees, in the cups of which tenderly leafless flowers,
ripen those exotic fruits of consolation ?
Those delicious rarities, of which you may discover one,

in your meadow's trampled poverty. Often, in wonder,
you stand marveling at the size of the fruit,
over its soundness and unblemished exterior,
perfectly amazed that some careless bird or jealous worm
away beneath the root

has not deprived you of it. Are there indeed such trees,
where angels slide, tended mysteriously in slow degrees
by obscure hands, able, though not ours, to sate our hungers?

Could we ever, the lot of us but shadows and shades,
through any act of ours (too soon ripe- too soon decayed,)
disturb the calm composure of those blissful summers?

Since I first knew this masterly work in Polish, it still sounds strange to my ears in English. Knowing the words in two languages, it is possible to detect the undercurrent of the original German. This is one of those poems that touch you deeply, the lines flowing with an overabundance of grace. Everything else I can say about this poem will sound quite silly...

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