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.


  1. Thank you Maja this is a beautiful beautiful post, a bouquet of poems and feelings gathered and presented in tribute, to Karen Klingman, to all of her friends and family, to all who knew and loved her... your prospect of a book is a beautiful one... and together all of us will find the way to do this! Your poem is a deep and loving statement touching so truly her humor, powers and sensibilities... I love how you feel...
    "Shredded thoughts" that "fall
    With the grace of minutes
    On my tawny hair".

    Maja, you are a deep source of inspiration to all of us in your own poetry and also your ability to absorb with love what others give, as Karen did in such a wondrous way. You transform that listening into love, and action.

  2. What a beautiful memorial, Maja! I met Karen once a few years ago in Pasadena, but distincly remember the poem she wrote for the paintings of Henry Fukuhara, "Sunshine melts purpled blue scars". Such depth I felt for Manzanar through her words.

    Your poem for Karen is absolutely lovely!

    Thank you for this sharing!

  3. As time goes by, as I am getting to know Maja more and more I realize what a great gift is her friendship.
    I am sure Karen felt the same about Maja.

  4. Thank you Kathabela, Stevie and Susan for your words of appreciation, both of Karen, and of my blog. As time passes, we need to focus more and more on the positive, separating diamonds from ashes of burnt good intentions and move forward remembering the best about ourselves and our friends...