Sunday, January 20, 2013

Karen Klingman In Memoriam

Karen Klingman at Susan Dobay's Scenic Drive Gallery in Monrovia, 2011

warmth of lit candles
an uninvited guest 
whispers to the host
is no one else coming

Tanka by Karen Klingman inspired by a painting by Susan Dobay, 2012
published in Poets on Site anthology, On Awakening: The Art of Susan Dobay 
(Kathabela Wilson, ed., Poets on Site, Pasadena, 2012, printed by APC Gallery)

Poets on Site said their farewells to Karen Klingman (1942-2012), a delightful, witty, brilliant poet whose presence will be sorely missed. On Saturday, January 19, 2013, her friends - Sharon Rizk, Mina Kirby, Erika Wilk and Kathabela Wilson - organized a memorial gathering dedicated to Karen's art at Sharon's home. 

Rick Wilson played a specially selected set of melodies, including traditional hymns, pieces by J.S. Bach, Amazing Grace, etc. Karen's poems were printed on different colors of paper (green, blue, purple, pink, yellow and white). The poems were posted on the wall and poets picked the ones they liked to read. The printed program listed colors of Karen's poems and poets shared them in-between flute melodies. Poems were previously published in anthologies by Poets on Site (edited by Kathabela Wilson) dedicated to the art of Susan Dobay, Manzanar Plein Air Workshops, Poetry and Cookies (Edited by Pauli Dutton, Altadena Public Library), San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, and collections by Emerging Urban Poets (edited by Don Kingfisher Campbell).

Of my choices on yellow and white paper, I'd like to copy two poems here, as they resonate with some of my most favorite moods and poems.  

Poets on Site in the park,with Rick and Kathabela Wilson, Just Kibbe, 
Cindy Rinne, Sharon Rizk and Karen Klingman

Afternoon Delight

by Karen Klingman

orange blossoms burst
spray the yard with fragrance
insect voices hum
salute the afternoon

I sip my chamomile
watch a red winged blackbird
bathe in warm slats of sunshine
trellised on the lawn

rare the moment do I spend like this
just breathing
gazing at nothing special
yet brilliant in its everything

(c) 2008 by Karen Klingman

Karen Klingman reads her poem at APC Gallery in Torrance, 2010

Thoughts on Manzanar, Apple Orchard, Pine Trees by Henry Fukuhara

Sunshine melts purpled blue scars
along the western slope 
silencing the pain

patches of emerald foliage
crown the white turbulence
offering up a bouquet of hope

(C) 2010 by Karen Klingman. Published by Poets on Site, Pasadena, in Kathabela Wilson, ed. "On the 12th Annual Henry Fukuhara Workshop "Observations & Interpretations" (2010)

I wrote about the same painting, also noting the two colors, yellow and purple that predominate in this surreal landscape seen by a blind painter (assisted by Chiz de Queiroz).


By Maja Trochimczyk

                              for Henry Fukuhara in memoriam

everything falls apart
in the last hour – shapes,
colors reduced to primal hues
of coagulated blood
and sunlight – everything

memories cleansed of pain
by art, carefully crafting
each painted detail
until it stops being seen
contours no longer matter

when the final surge of energy
erases words of praise
for the unjust world that promises
not to deliver eternal happiness
and keeps its promise

wanly smiling over
vanities of vanities

everything disintegrates
even the sweetness
of the mango juice
dripping down the chin,
the tongue and fingertips

already stained by blueberries,
on the first day of the summer
after the war ended
and all was supposed
to be well but was not

Karen participated in many poetry workshops with me and wrote witty, insightful comments on my pages, sometimes praising the beauty of the idea, at other times taking apart the weak, disordered words that captured it.  When I think of her, these workshops first come to mind, so my farewell to Karen Klingman is a poem about them.

Maja Trochimczyk, Erika Wilk and Karen Klingman at APC Gallery in Torrance, 2009
Henry Fukuhara Workshop Poetry Reading by Poets on Site. Photo by Kathabela Wilson

The Poet of Lost Cats

~ Karen Klingman in memoriam

She of the red head
Like her tabby cat, tiger in disguise
Witty claws waiting

To be drawn across
Thin skin of your poems
Leaving gold behind

The chaff is burning
Carmine flames ablaze
In the cobalt sky

The chaff is burning 
Her words fierce and fiercer
Brilliance sparks up

The fabric of hours 
Swirls with specks of ashes
Incinerated verse

Shredded thoughts fall
With the grace of minutes
On my tawny hair

Dressing me in orange
Hue of her good humor - 
Karen's soul ascends

(c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

What we need is more poetry by Karen Klingman. While she will not write anything new, we can gather and publish in one book what she has written. Poets collecting her verse for the memorial gathering have noted that they did not know many of her poems that were scattered in publications in Southern California and beyond. Editing such a book would be a wonderful tribute of love from her poet friends who greatly appreciated Karen's multiple talents. 


Photos of Karen Klingman from Kathabela Wilson's gallery on Facebook. Poetry selected by Erika Wilk, Mina Kirby, and Kathabela Wilson.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The New Year with a Sunbloom and a Mystic Rose

Camellia blossom, Descanso Gardens, December 2012

The Year 2013 will be very unusual. It is going to be the Year of the Snake, apparently filled with good luck, material blessings, but also with deception and interpersonal problems.  What it willl be depends on us, and we can make it a beautiful, blessed year, if we property focus our attention on things that matter.

Haiga "The Gift" (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

In response to an invitation by Susan Rogers, I created a little reminder of this focus on what really mattters as a bas-relief collage haiga, that is a paper and fabric image with a haiku-like comment.  The invitation was to create a poem or an art-work on the theme of the Snake or Target on a rectangular board.  The results in the form of calligraphy, artwork, photos will be displayed at the Japanese American Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  

My choice to make a surreal flower with petals from a white poinsetta, daisy, and a photo of matilla poppy, with a double eye in the middle reflected the choice of the theme - the Target. The eye is copied from another collage of mine, created for the Beatrix Project of Kathi Stafford for my poem "Rosa Mystica" and published in her chapbook (and reprinted below). 

Here, the double eye of the rose here becomes the eye of the Mystical Sunbloom. I entitled my little art-piece for the New Year 2013 - "The Gift" - and I think a lot of people, especially Christians and those following mystical traditions know the answer to this riddle. If not, reading the anthology Meditations on Divine Names is highly recommended. The answer to every question about the meaning of life and everything is "42" as we know from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  The trouble is we do not know what is the question...

Ever calling - Never heard

Ever seeking - Never seen


Detail from "The Gift" (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Happy New Year 2013!


The original version of the eye appeared in a digital collage for "Rosa Mystica"  - a poem about Mother Mary and Dante's Paradiso.

Rosa Mystica

The love that calms this heaven always offers welcome
 with such greetings to make the candle ready for its flame 
 ~ Dante, Il Paradiso, Canto XXX: 52-54 

I knew it all along
(at least, suspected)
Beatrice’s swimming cap
betrays Heaven as nothing 
but an oversized pool

where saints swim like fish
in the river of light 
and God-Mother rests 
on white lounge petals 
of a Mystic Rose 

Giovanni di Paolo’s
illumined pages of Il Paradiso  
unveil creature comforts 
beyond the sapphire glow
of Dante’s Empyrean 

Angels curl in their pods
like babies asleep 
on metallic wings 
with round pillow halos 
of shimmering gold 

Multi-hued gowns of cobalt, 
salmon, palm green, and sienna 
reveal the childish joy 
 of heavenly hosts
adoring the Trinity 

Cherubs play hopscotch 
dance the Sarabande
twirl like a swarm of bees 
among light-bursts that do not 
 sear their eyes with pain 

Rushing waterfalls of laughter 
sparkle in diamond waves
of the robes of our Mother 
Daughter of her Son 
figlia del tuo figlio 

She gave Him a kiss 
on the way to Rose Garden 
serene Love’s Greeting
beneath seraphic wings 
rainbows that cut our darkness


The digital art collage includes my photographs and Beatrix from Giovanni di Paolo’s illustrations for Il Paradiso. These images are a part of the British Library's Yates Thompson 36 Codex made in Sienna in the 15th century. Rosetti’s drawing of the Rose Garden is in the collection of the Museum of the Fine Arts in Boston and his painting of Love’s Greeting is in the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum in Boston.

The reference to the Virgin Mother, “figlia der tuo figlio” (daughter of your son), is from Dante, Il Paradiso, Canto XXXIII: 1.

 The ephigraph is cited from the Princeton Dante Project ( “Sempre l'amor che queta questo cielo / accoglie in sé con sì fatta salute / per far disposto a sua fiamma il candela.” Il Paradiso, Canto XXX: 52-54.