Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Poets on Site at the Colonnade Gallery in Pasadena

Tim Callahan reads, Mira Mataric, Maja Trochimczyk and Hans Zima listen, Colonnade Gallery, Pasadena, March 2, 2013.
On March 2, 2013, Poets on Site and artists gathered at the Colonnade Art Gallery in Pasadena (2421 E. Colorado Blvd.Pasadena, CA 91107), for the Opening Reception and Poetry Reading for this month's exhibition, featuring, among others, artists Kathabela Wilson, Debby Prohias, Galen Young, Robert Stewart, Ron Pettie (gallery owner), and Hans Zima.

Poets on Site included, in person, Tim Callahan, Taura Scott, Bryan Story, Mira Mataric, Pat McClelland, Debbie Kolodji, Robert Stewart and Kathabela Wilson, as well as off-site poets who sent their work from around the world: Billy Howell-Sinnard, Joan Stern, Sheila Windsor, Veronika Zora Novak, John Daleiden, Pauline Dutton, Vivian Lee, Gary Blankenship, Chris Dominiczak, Josie Hibbing, Willie Bongky, Erika Wilk, Brian Zimmer, Michele Harvey, Dalton Perry, Richard Dutton, Tomislav Maretic, Gerry Jacobson, Pat Geyer, and Jonathan Vos Post. The readings were accompanied by Rick Wilson on Native-American flutes from his astounding flute collection.

I selected three pieces to write about: a photo collage of Yosemite Falls and Cactus Flower by Debby Prohias, a Camellia by Galen Young, and a Death Valley photo by Hans Zima. Debby was so delighted with having a poem written about her piece, that she gave me a camellia! It decorated my lapel in some pictures taken right next to her artwork.

Debby Prohias listens to "Flower Falls" by Maja Trochimczyk

Flower Falls

by Maja Trochimczyk

If stars grew on rocks
And hills flowed with
Liquid light and honey

Would we still doubt
The life force asleep
Inside black basalt stone

Dancing in crisp verdant air
With a sycamore leaf, falling
To awaken in the roots

Of the roots beneath
The earth's surface, filling 
Our veins with sunlight

Yosemite Falls and Cactus Flower by Debby Prohias
Yosemite Falls and Cactus Flower by Debby Prohias

She then commented about my poem, Flower Falls, being “such a beautiful way of expressing the feeling of being present in Yosemite and the discovery of a flower that came to open in our backyard.” The flower was that of an elusive night-blooming cereus, a nocturnal miracle, rarely seen, and made even more magical by Debby’s photo collage. The camellia blossom proved to be quite useful in the second poem I read, since the Camellia by Galen Young was not on display. While the camelia I got was pink, my poem may be illustrated with a picture of a white camellia, that I took at Descanso Gardens this spring.

White Camellia by Maja Trochimczyk

by Maja Trochimczyk

in the corona
of white petals
gold treasure
waits for its fruit

dark green leaves
color the air, drop
onto the sidewalk
tired of sunlight

the smoothness
of petals shelters
a dream always
blooming within

I followed my reading of this slow, misty and sensuous poem with one filled with joyful exuberance. The contrast between Rick Dutton's work and mine, and the shifting mood of the readings perfectly illustrated the essence of Poets on Site work: creative encounters of different poets with the same artwork and the richness of inspiration that the arts may provide.

Nonetheless, I was not happy with the way my other poem for Hans Zima’s photograph did not quite fit the image I saw live. I had written it to a photograph posted online: the desert looked empty and sad, with muted colors waiting for rain and life to awaken. But the rocks of the original photo in the gallery were an explosion of energy and color, under an intense turquoise-sapphire sky. This is why it is so important to go to exhibitions and see the artwork “live” – in its original form. What’s online “blah” in real life is “aha!” (The same rule is applicable to live concerts, especially with acoustic instruments).

Dissatisfied, I wrote another poem for Mr. Zima right then and there, to another photo from Death Valley. It showed a broad panorama of red sands leading into distant, dark blue mountains, shrouded with mist. The intense hues of this unusual landscape resonated with a feeling of timelessness that, coupled with the Death Valley name, resulted in a spiritual inspiration. Hans was very happy with the poem and commented: “I was amazed how you could create such a beautiful work of art in just a few minutes.” I answered that it “wrote itself” and I just transcribed it. It is a good poem for the awakening of the spring and the Easter season.

Death Valley Sunset by Hans Zima

Death Valley Sunset
~ inspired by a landscape photo by Hans Zima

now it ends
we've come to the edge
the last bush, the last drop of water

it's over....

the red sands wait, immobile
sinking into crimson

whale bones of white rocks
poke through 

it's over...

it's time for the dark to claim us
on the arid, salty plain

we'll walk and walk
for forty days, to the other edge
of Death Valley

we will cross shadows, enter 
misty mountains, sparkling streams
and sunrise

hidden, alluring, they call to us:
"come, come along,
do not fear"

we will reach beyond  
rest in the lapis-lazuli expanse
of new-born sky

© 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Debbie Kolodji, Rick Wilson, Kathabela Wilson and Maja Trochimczyk at
the Opening Night at the Colonnade Gallery in Pasadena.

The Colonnade Gallery Opening Night was one in a series of recent Poets on Site poetry events that included also a wonderful reading for Susan Dobay's Impressions of China at the Altadena Public Library on February 9, 2013 (where I read poems written to Dobay's images of a bride and three old women).

Another poem  of mine written to that series of Chinese travel impressions was published in the Quill and Parchment poetry journal (March issue). It welcomed spring in a light-hearted mood, with "A Skipping Lesson." The poem is accompanied by the image by Susan Dobay that inspired  my work and by four tanka by Poets on Site: Kathabela Wilson, Erika Wilk, Pauline Dutton and Huang Yiwei. 

Sharon Hawley, Joan Stern, Susan Dobay, Rick Dutton, Rick Wilson, Taura Scott,  Bryan Story, Kathabela Wilson, Just Kibbe, Pauli Dutton, Erika Wilk and Maja Trochimczyk at the opening of Impressions of China by Susan Dobay, Altadena Public Gallery, February 2013.
Finally, Poets on Site and friends met at a Poets' Cafe Listening Party at Kathabela and Rick's Salon in Pasadena on February 21, 2013. The reading there featured Kathabela Wilson, Susan Rogers, Neil McCarthy, myself and Mira Mataric - five poets featured by Lois P. Jones at Poets Cafe. Our interviews are now found on Tim Green's website.

Maja Trochimczyk with Kathabela Wilson, reading "The Music Box" at the Poets Cafe Listening Party, February 2013.
I read my "Music Box" (with a music box) that was specifically requested by the host of the Radio Program whom we could hear, during the KPFK fundraising drive, while collecting funds to help poetry on air "live long and prosper."

Mira Mataric, Kathabela Wilson, Susan Rogers and Maja Trochimczyk,
Poets Cafe Listening Party at the Wilson's Salon.
And if that was not enough, my article on Polish Folk Dance movement in America and its paradoxical inspiration by a Stalinist genre has appeared in the Cosmopolitan Review, a journal dedicated to Polish culture in English. This article resulted from a book I published in 2007 on Polish Dance in Southern California; another, fully annotated version of the article appeared in the Polish American Studies (available on JStor.

The camellia photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk, other photos courtesy of Kathabela Wilson.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Maja yes, what an amazing month, and more to come. I love your vivid descriptions and the excitement of our programs and warmth of feeling amidst the poems, art, music and their makers... transmitted with beauty and exuberance. Thank You!!!