Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Not that we now know what "a great peat fire" is - 
as we are not Irish and live in the 21st century... 
But, whether we know what we are doing, or not, 
we will "muddle through somehow...." 
to quote another great song... so... 

Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

And once you do, enjoy some Christmas carols, in Polish and English (Wsrod nocnej ciszy - Poznanskie Slowiki) (Gdy sie Chrystus rodzi - Poznanskie Slowiki) (Lulajze Jezuniu - Anna German) (Have yourself a very Merry Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giving Thanks for Poetry and Friends - Kathabela, Lois and Millicent

Reading from Woman in Metaphor with Rick Wilson, Beyond Baroque, Oct. 2014

Thanksgiving is the time of counting your blessings. Gratitude is among the four most important moral virtues that make our lives not just endurable but enjoyable as well. What are the other four? I think they go in pairs: forgiveness and gratitude - we do it for ourselves; compassion and generosity - we do it for others. Or the other way around. . . These are companion values to the Four Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude (Courage) and Moderation, Justice and Prudence (Wisdom).  Four plus four equals eight equals infinity, if seen on the side. But I digress. 

When counting my blessings I decided that the poetry "leaders" in our local poetic circles deserve a lot of praise and gratitude for their selfless devotion to expanding the ever growing poetry spheres links and networks in our corner of the world. I selected three extraordinary poets, extremely talented in their own right, but also motivated to promote others and connect us all into this amazing web of beauty, insight and good will. Their names? Kathabela Wilson, Lois P. Jones and Millicent Borges Accardi. I'll present them in the order we met. I should start with Kathabela. 


Kathabela with Maja at the Poets-Artists Exhibition at Scenic Drive Gallery, 2011.

I met Kathabela at a poetry workshop in Sunland, in 2007. I joined her Poets on Site group immediately, after attending poetry workshops in her home, and meeting her amazing mathematician-flautist husband, Rick Wilson. She is the spirit of poetry in the Foothills, of ever growing circles from her home in Pasadena, through Southern California, to the world.  There are so many wonderful poetry things that she has done and continues to do (Tanka, Poets on Site, art, jewelry,  photography, book  and journal editing, poetry salon and workshop hosting, hat wearing, and even dancing), so it is hard to pick just one thing. Thus, I will pick two: 1) a beautiful poem she wrote about Paderewski, the subject of my research projects in music history - for our joint appearance at a conference dedicated to Chopin and Paderewski and held at Loyola College in Chicago, in 2010, and 2) the series of poetry interviews she recently started for the Colorado Boulevard magazine online - that just featured my interview, she beautifully edited to the right size. 

Chopin with Cherries reading in Chicago, 2010, with Sharon Chmielarz
Rick Wilson and Kathabela Wilson in the front row, 

What Paderewski Taught Me About Being

by Kathabela Wilson

he tells me
the heart moves

moves like the ocean
sometimes like a mountain
constantly in greeting

his words
my pulse the same

holds back
rushes forward

washed always
in silence
silence for what is not

for what has been taken
for what is left
for what has been given

a nation for what is right
the dearly loved
what he always wanted

from the edge
of her seat
a woman leans forward

a breath
time waits

the woman breathes out
whish of wind
essence of man

dark and light
rubato of being
becomes being again

Sharon Hawley, Susan Dobay, Rick and Kathabela Wilson, Pauli Dutton, Erika Wilk and 
Maja Trochimczyk, in the back: Joan Stern, Rick Dutton, Bryan Story, and Just Kibbe, 2012.


Her weekly interviews with local area poets and artists appear in the Colorado Boulevard, a magazine created to highlight the local communities of the Foothills.  At you can sign up for their mailing list for announcements and other interesting news and tid-bits. 

The Interviews feature:
Kathabela also edits a weekly themed Poetry Corner that will love your comments and features faraway and local poets.

                                 Debbie Kolodji, Rick and Kathabela Wilson, Maja Trochimczyk at the Colonnade Gallery.

Once upon a time, Kathabela appeared in my Tarot Card reading as the Lady of Pentacles, the generous lady of this earth and manifold gifts.  She is truly a magical spirit of generosity, of a creativity that keeps giving, love that keeps flowing to so many. I wrote for her a poem about her hats, and, lo and behold, started to wearing hats myself. She does have that influence on you. You just want to be her! (Not really, with her, you are truly, deeply yourself). And Kathabela would not be the wonderful Kathabela without her astounding mathematician-musician husband, Rick Wilson. Some of my most favorite readings took place with the accompaniment of his amazing flutes. Many, many thanks to you both!


Maja and Lois P. Jones in KPFK studio, getting ready for the interview in October 2011.

I actually cannot remember when I met Lois; I feel I've known her all my life - as my long lost sister. She is an incredibly talented poet and photographer, and a wonderful, extraordinary person, with wise insights and a warm heart. I do not know whether it was because of that, or in spite of that, my Poets Cafe interview was quite challenging - she is known for asking tough, surprising questions. But on second and third hearing, I realized that Lois created a true, deep, intimate portrait of me as a poet, and as a human being - homesick for a country that exist only in my memory, and longing for what cannot be... 

Lois's  personal list of successes is very long and she is one of the "up and coming" poets, dedicated to her craft. She is equally dedicated to promoting others - as co-host of the famed Moonday poetry readings (with Alice Pero) and of the Poets' Cafe. We tried to form a Spiritual Quartet with Susan Rogers and Taoli-Ambika Talwar, and did some inspired readings together, but, at the end, it did not quite worked out. We are now members of a women's writing group, meeting for monthly workshops and poetry conversations - Westside Women Writers (see below for more on that group).  I'm also happy that Lois contributed to both of my anthologies. Her poem for "Meditations on Divine Names" (Moonrise Press, 2012), deserves a second, third, and fourth reading.


Listen!, the Rabbi said, God is One. Listen for what comes next.
When death arrives shema is a mezuzah on the threshold
of our lives, the soul’s last words before leaving a body.
But I no longer hear the hawk’s cry above the fields
where you left us. I can no longer count all the bones
that have buried themselves in me. Only the rabbi’s voice,
a stranger who entered the last ten minutes of your life
when the daughters and all their hours could not give the word
to let you go. This woman who spoke to you beyond a face

swollen from the fall, and your eyelids sealed
past opening. She told you what a good job you’d done, 

forgave all the secrets—locked drawers finally open—
their invisible contents drifting into the cold clinical air.

Her words were blood moving through us as we held hands.
The road and the river as we felt you pass.  Not so heavy as a song,
not even snow on the bough melting. I listened, I watched

you were so silent, Mother, I could not hear you leave.

(c) 2012 by Lois P. Jones

Lois P. Jones, portrait by Susan Rogers, 2013.


After being interviewed for the Poets' Cafe radio program (KPFK Los Angeles), Lois was asked to serve as a host - her voice is uniquely fit for the radio. She has since interviewed dozens of poets and her shows, produced by the brain behind the whole enterprise, Marlene Bond, are archived on the blog of Tim Green, the editor of Rattle. All friends among friends. Here's the list of poets that Lois interviewed and KPFK broadcast, on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.  - 30 minutes each. 
Here's her official bio from Poet's Cafe archives:
Lois P. Jones is host of “Poet’s Café” (KPFK,  Los Angeles 90.7 fm), and co-produces the Moonday poetry reading series in Pacific Palisades, California with Alice Pero. She is the Poetry Editor of Kyoto Journal and a four-time Pushcart nominee.  She has work published in Narrative Magazine, American Poetry Journal,The Nassau Review, Qarrtsiluni,Sierra Nevada ReviewAskewRaven Chronicles, and Antioch University’s Lunch Ticketas well as Destinations, the number one jazz CD in the U.S. (Tamir Hendelman, 2010) and other journals in the U.S. and abroad.  Several of her photographs have been published in national journals.   Lois’s poems have won honors under judges Kwame Dawes, Fiona Sampson and others.  New Yorker staff writer, Dana Goodyear selected “Ouija” as Poem of the Year in the 2010 competition sponsored by Web Del Sol.  She is the winner of the 2012 Tiferet Poetry Prize and is featured in The Tiferet Talk Interviews, which includes interviews with Robert Pinsky, Ed Hirsch, Julia Cameron and others 2013.


Millicent Borges Accardi

I met Millicent after I already published her poetry in the anthology Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse (Moonrise Press, 2010), celebrating the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth. I loved her poems: not being Polish she was able to capture the impact of Polish folklore on Chopin, as well as the impact of Chopin on Polish music and on the world.  Wonderful work, I thought. 

Then, we had a reading with Wojciech Kocyan playing the piano and the poets reading their works, at the Ruskin Art Club in Los Angeles.  The mansion was an elegant, if somewhat neglected, setting for a poetry salon, with artwork on the walls, a piano and an inspired atmosphere of the Gilded Age.  At the end, I gave all poets bouquets made of piano keys with some green leaves from my garden. I took apart an old piano from my garage, specifically for that... hence the delight of the poets seen in the pictures. 

Millicent, a Topanga artist and hippie, as she often describes herself, then invited me to a new poetry workshop for women, Westside Women Writers, that has now grown to eight members, and meets faithfully each month, reading poems, discussing poetry matters, sharing meals and companionship. I have grown tremendously as a poet in these workshops and I owe my most recent book, Slicing the Bread, to this august company. Cheers to Millicent for bringing us together and making sure we focus on poetry and the good things in life. And thanks for the many wonderful meals at her enchanting Topanga Canyon cottage, that has seen many disasters but survived... Here are two things I'm grateful for, Millicent's poem about Chopin and her interviews with poets. 

Chopin with Cherries Reading at the Ruskin Art Club, LtoR: Millicent Borges Accardi, 
Georgia Jones-Davis, Gretchen Fletcher, seated Kathabela Wilson and Kathi Stafford, 2010.


Millicent Borges Accardi      

                        Into the wide world, with no very clearly                                    
                                 defined aim, forever

One without
the other,
says Delacroix,
both will come together.

Find the mirror
of a mirror.

Wait for the sound
of a nightingale’s full round

A waltz in A-flat,
uncertain where the music
will settle
for good

A tormented heart,
one that dared not
inform him
no one else was listening.

mazurka, waltz, nocturne, étude,
impromptu and prélude—
the piano begins
Blue rings out
sounding in the ears,
cloud in his lungs.

Uncertain is the shape
of romance

Sketching and observation
nothing but moonlight.

Mediterranean and dawn are
written from life.

Millicent Borges Accardi, Kathi Stafford, Georgia Jones-Davis, at the Ruskin, 2010.


Millicent  publishes profiles of internationally based writers of Portuguese descent. 
The Interviews feature:
And here's her "formal" bio, for those who do not know her...

Millicent Borges Accardi is a Portuguese-American poet, the author of three books: Injuring EternityWoman on a Shaky Bridge (chapbook), and Only More So. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), CantoMundo, the California Arts Council, Fundação Luso-Americana (FLAD), and Barbara Deming Foundation “Money for Woman.” She organizes the literary series Kale Soup for the Soul: Portuguese-American writers reading work about family, food and culture. Follow her on Twitter @TopangaHippie.  

Her husband, Charles Accardi, is a painter, who created the beautiful portrat of Millicent, gracing the cover of her book - "Woman on the Shaky Bridge" (Finishing Line Press). Another portrait by Charles is reproduced below. What an extraordinarily talented couple.

Portrait of Millicent, by Charles Accardi.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Harvesting Pomegranates and Poetry in October

fall hues turn red
pomegranate juice on my fingers - 
I taste the seeds

October is the month of the harvest. Octoberfest in Bavaria. Thanksgiving in Canada. Pomegranates in my one-tree orchard. What does my crop of poetry publications and readings look like?  Exciting and refreshing like the pomegranates off my tree.


I must say I love being invited to do things with friends. I also love being invited to do things with new friends. Jessica Wilson included my name in a small group of Los Angeles Poetry Hosts who will be featured together this Wednesday during the NoHo Lit Crawl event at 9 p.m. Live music -drums and flute by Juan Cardenas, and round robin poetry by the guests of Jessica, a dynamo of energy and poetic talent.

Since I could not quite figure out where I'm supposed to be and how to find my way Jessica made us a map with red arrows that make the location  really, really obvious. Come if you have a taste for some poetry on Wednesday night, come if you don't. You never know what you'll find.


I'm really honored to have been selected to join an elite group of poets, inspired by the mysterious, mystifying and mystic art of Stephen Linsteadt. My poem came from a fascination with his portrait of a ballet dancer, reflected in a series of mirrors. I melded the Myth of Orpheus losing his Euridice with a Balinese myth of a fish that was a dancing tree... in an altogether surreal set of images... Dance, Euridice, dance. Pas de poisson!

The event's description: "Twenty-seven poets from around the world share their vision of the feminine spirit, inspired by the paintings of Stephen Linsteadt. Editor, Maria Elena B. Mahler, collected twenty-seven poems from twenty-seven accomplished, published, and award winning poets from different parts of the world. She invited them to write a poem based on one of Stephen Linsteadt's paintings; paintings he created over the last thirty-five years. Live music by Adey Bell."

At Beyond Baroque: Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 8 p.m. Regular Admission. 
681 Venice Blvd, Venice, California 90291


I'm very happy to have a poem included in an amazing anthology, Gutters and Alleyways: Perspectives on Poverty and Struggle, published by Lucid Moose Lit Press this fall. There are many readings scheduled in Southern California, as discussed below.  Due to other deadlines I missed the big launch described below, but I hope to make it to at least one reading later - most likely to the November 11 reading in Echo Park. 

The Gutters & Alleyways Anthology and Lucid Moose Lit Press launch was a wonderful success. Thank you to all of you who come out in support of this project release. We’d love to meet even more of you at upcoming readings and events. A few ways to keep up with the latest Lucid Moose news is through the website,, and through the Facebook page, There you will find photos from the big launch event, the latest information about readings, and new submission calls such as our very next anthology, Like a Girl: Perspectives on Feminine Identity and Development. We hope you will consider sending us a new batch of work for this and future projects.
For contributors outside of the southern California area, we will be mailing out contributor copies over the next week. For those able to come to an upcoming event, we will give you your copy in person. Here is a list of upcoming readings where you may also sign up to read in an open reading list (email us if you can 100% commit to reading at one of these events and we can possibly add your name to the “mini feature” list):

October 24th 6:30-9 pm at Half Off Books in Whittier (joint Cadence Collective reading)
December 8th 7 pm at Gatsby Books in Long Beach
Other opportunities to pick up your copy (Please email or message if you can stop by one of these locations on these dates):
November 10th at 7 pm  Gatsby Books in Long Beach
November 18th at Rebel Bite in Long Beach
If you’d like to buy additional copies online, the most direct way is through Copies will also be available at local independent bookstores: Gatsby Books in Long Beach, Read On Till Morning in San Pedro, and Half Off Books in Whittier. If you are interested in bulk copies, please email us about price discounts.

The October issue of the Quill and Parchment monthly poetry magazine, edited by Sharmagne Leland St. John is a virtual cornucopia of inspiration.  There is a notice about my book, Slicing the Bread, with the title poem and various statements by other poets.




All those who had pre-ordered copies of my "Slicing the Bread" chapbook from Finishing Line Press that is supposed to be published on October 25, 2014 will have to wait a little bit longer. I did not get my page proofs yet, so please be patient.  In the meantime, several poems made it to various venues, so they can be found and enjoyed in these locations. You also can read about the book on the various blogs and websites.

The book is starting to get noticed on blogs and in papers, and thanks to Andrena Zawinski, four poems can be read in the Poetry Magazine this fall:

Andrena Zawinski's Featured Poets in Poetry Magazine, Vol. 13 no. 3.

John Guzlowski posted about it on his Writing the Polish Diaspora blog:

Rae wrote about it on her blog: Books for Mom:

Forum Polonia Houston reprinted the notice with links to order copies: Slicing the Bread in Houston

The New Book Journal noticed and reprinted the press release: Slicing the Bread on New Book Journal

Then its editor, Ray K. Alan posted it on Pinterest:  Slicing the Bread Pinned to Interests

Don Kingfisher Campbell put one poem, "The Way to School" in his San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Fall 2014. I did not attend the reading, so my poem is not posted on the blog.

And, if you have not seen the previous post about the book on this blog, with all the advanced praise by wonderful poets,  here's the link from Poetry Laurels from July 2014:

And, for all those who read all the way to the end, here's the poetic reward, one poem from the Poetry Magazine set:


It was made of rough metal, thick and light.

Its grey, unpolished surface looked like
no other spoon she ever saw.

Grandma said: Ah, yes, that spoon 
was made of a plane shot down 
near the Mieleszki forest.
People gathered metal scraps to melt 
into spoons. We used to carve ours
from birch-wood.  Aluminum was better.

What about the pilot? What happened to him? 
Children never stop asking questions. 

Grandma shrugs.  We found his parachute,
cut the silk into squares to filter milk,
make cheese. But the pilot?

I heard the Germans took him, 
came back for the plane. 

We did not get much,
 just some cheesecloth
and this one spoon.

(C) 2014 by Maja Trochimczyk