Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poets Laureate at the Pasadena Lit Fest - May 21, 3:30 p.m. at Zona Rosa Alley by Pasadena Playhouse

Altadena Poetry Review Presents


Poet Laureates from the 2016 and 2017 Altadena Anthologies will be the Featured Poets on our Pas LitFest panel at the Zona Rosa Alley, next to the Pasadena Playouse, in Pasadena on SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017, from 3:30pm-4:45pm. Five Laureates will present their work:

-- Elsa Frausto
-- Marlene Hitt
--Mary Langer Thompson
--Radomir Vojtech Luza
--Maja Trochimczyk
--Thelma Reyna


Pasadena LitFest will be on May 20 and 21, with multiple venues and lots of great poets and writers to hear. Visit the website of the LitFest 2017 for details, check out the schedule, or read the bios of the poets and writers.  


Elsa Frausto passes the Poet Laureate's Laurels to Pam Shea, April 2017

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Elsa is a bilingual poet. She has been active in local poetry events as coordinator and host, most recently with “Wide Open Readings” at the Sunland-Tujunga Library. Her book of poems--Sunland Park Poems (Shabda Press), which she co-wrote with Alice Pero--was recently published. Elsa was Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga in 2014-2017.


Marlene Hitt is a Los Angeles poet, writer and retired educator with local history
 as an avocation. She has served for many years as Archivist, Museum Director 
and Historian at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. She is a native Californian
 and a graduate of Occidental College. She also studied at CSUN, USC, UCLA, Glendale
 College and Trinity College, Ireland. Her work appeared in Psychopoetica (UK), Chupa 
Rosa Diaries of the Chupa Rosa Writers, Sunland (2001-2003), Glendale College’s 
Eclipseanthologies, two Moonrise Press anthologies, Chopin with Cherries (2010), 
Meditations on Divine Names (2012), and Sometimes in the Open, a collection of verse 
by California Poets Laureate. She published Sad with Cinnamon, Mint Leaves,and
 Bent Grass (all in 2001), as well as Riddle in the Rain with Dorothy Skiles, and a stack 
of chapbooks for friends and family.

The first Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga (1999-2001), Marlene Hitt was honored as the 2016 Woman of the Year by the Congressman Adam Schiff and her name was entered into a congressional record.

Clocks and Water Drops - Poetry Collection by Marlene Hitt

Published in May 2015. 118 pages.  ISBN 978-0-9819693-5-0, $15.00
This collection of poetry includes 73 poems divided into sections on: Children, Marriages, Portraits, Neighbors, Seasons, Small Things, Passages, and Farewells.  The title captures the poet's fascination with the flow of time, as relentless and powerful as drops of water that can shape rocks and move mountains. 


Poet Laureate of North Hollywood, CA, Radomir is a Pushcart Prize Nominee and author of 30 books. His poetry has been published in over 80 anthologies, literary journals, blogs, websites, newspapers, magazines and other media. The SAG/AFTRA/AEA actor is also a stand-up comedian, theatre critic and host/curator of reading events around the country.  He edits and publishes the literary magazine, VOICES IN THE LIBRARY, through Red Doubloon Publishing.

Thelma T. Reyna’s books have collectively won eight national literary awards. She has written four books: a short story collection, two poetry chapbooks, and a full-length poetry collection, Rising, Falling, All of Us. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, and regional media for over 25 years. As Poet Laureate in Altadena, 2014-2016, she edited the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology: 2015, as well as the 2016 anthology, which was the Winner in two national book competitions in 2016 (Anthology category). She was selected as a “Top 10 San Gabriel Valley Poet, 2016” by Spectrum Publications. She is also chief editor/publisher at Golden Foothills Press, based in Pasadena. Visit her site at www.GoldenFoothillsPress.com .


Mary Langer Thompson’s poems, short stories, and essays appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012), and was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California. Her first collection of poems, Poems in Water, was published by Green Fuse Poetic Arts of Loveland, Colorado in 2014, and she is working on a second collection entitled “It’s a School Night.” Her children’s book How the Blue-Tongued Skink got his Blue Tongue was recently released by Another Think Coming Press. A retired school principal and former secondary English teacher, Langer Thompson received her Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She continues to enjoy conducting writing workshops for schools, prisons, and in her community of the high desert of California.


Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D. (McGill’94), is a poet, music historian, and photographer born in Poland and living in California. She published six  books on music (After Chopin, The Music of Louis Andriessen, Polish Dance in Southern California, A Romantic Century in Polish Music, Frederic Chopin: A Research and Information Guide, and Lutoslawski Legacy), six books of poetry (Miriam’s Iris, 2008; Rose Always, 2011; Slicing the Bread, 2014; The Rainy Bread,2016; and Into Light, 2016) as well as  two anthologies, Chopin with Cherries (2010), andMeditations on Divine Names (2012). She also published 17 book chapters, 26 peer-reviewed articles, and hundreds of essays and poems that appeared in English, Polish, German, French, Chinese, Spanish and Serbian translations. A recipient of ACLS and SSRCC post-doctoral grants, and many honors for the promotion of Polish culture, she taught music history at the University of Southern California and ethics in jail. She recently received the 2016 Creative Arts Prize from the Polish American Historical Association. She serves as Secretary and Communications Director for Polish American Historical Association and was the Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga in 2010-2012. In 2008, she founded Moonrise Press. More... or visit the website:  www.trochimczyk.net

Into Light: Poems and Incantations 

This poetry and prayer collection presents 35 poems and 12 "incantations" that focus on the intertwined spiritual concepts of Light and Love. The poems, initially written within the Catholic mystical tradition of contemplation and adoration of the Divine presence, gradually evolved to encompass a broader scope of spiritual insights, without losing the main focus: reaching out in Love to the One Light, the Source of All. The simple and repetitive meditations and incantations are meant to inspire, uplift, and fill the heart with Light and Love. 
Available as a Paperback with 82 pages in a standard trade size 6' by 9' (ISBN 978-0-9963981-8-3, $10.00), Full Color Paperback, in the same size, ISBN9781945938030 ($30.00) and as E-Book in the EPUB Format, ISBN 978-0-9963981-9-0, $8.00).

The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile by Maja Trochimczyk

This volume includes 30 poems about forgotten stories of Poles living in the Eastern Borderlands of Kresy, who were killed, deported, imprisoned, or oppressed after the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939.  These are depictions of survival of other Poles deported to Siberia, the Arctic Circle, or Kazakhstan; who left the Soviet Union with the Second Corps of the Polish Army under General Władysław Anders; were transported to refugee camps in India or Africa; and ended up in Argentina, Canada, Australia or the U.S. The book is a companion to “Slicing the Bread: Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems” (Finishing Line Press, 2014), with which it shares some poems, including vignettes from the author’s childhood in Warsaw, permeated by the strange rhetoric of the Polish People’s Republic, yet still overshadowed by the war.

ISBN 9781945938009, paperback, 64 pages, $10.00

ISBN 9781945938016, eBook, $8.00

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Celebrating Poetry in the Poetry Month - April 2017


The Mulberry Tree by Vincent van Gogh at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.


~ after van Gogh’s Mulberry Tree at the Norton Simon Museum

I am the mulberry tree, ablaze with color
before the last day of autumn
I came into being in a flurry of brush strokes
on a cardboard, under the azure expanse of unfinished sky
turquoise – into cobalt – into indigo
green – into chartreuse – into amber – into gold
buds into blossoms – into fruit – into earth
to fall – to fall not – to end – to end not –
to begin
The brightest star, an ancient supernova,
I am aglow but for a moment
I outshine reality with artifice
exploding off the canvas
paint – paintbrush – swansong
leaves of the earth – ripples in the stream – crystals in the air –
aflame, all aflame
I make magic of the mundane shape of the world
sic est gloria mundi
it is – it will be – it is willed to be –
once captured in a frenzy of light, becoming
time transfigured into swirls of awareness
crystallizing at the edge of oblivion
I am the mulberry tree – I am the alchemist tree –
let my song fill your day till it glows –
become pure gold with me

(C) 2016 by Maja Trochimczyk

Published in the Van Gogh Anthology, Resurrection of a Sunflower (2016), this poem will also appear in the Westside Women Writers anthology since it was created during one of the group's workshops.
It is one of three poems inspired by various art works by Vincent Van Gogh (along with "Into Light," and "Azzure"), that are included in the anthology, edited by Catfish McDaris with Mark Pietrzykowski, and published by Pski's Porch. The book, Resurrection of a Sunflower,  includes nearly 600 pages of poetry inspired by Van Gogh's art.  It appeared in the spring of 2017 and a hard copy will be deposited at the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands. 

The Anthology is now available on Amazon.com


One of the largest and most enjoyable annual Poetry and Cookies event was held on Saturday, April 26, 2017 at the Altadena Public Library. Edited by Altadena Poet Laureate Elline Lipkin and former Librarian and director of the Altadena library, Pauli Dutton, the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2017 includes hundreds of poems by numerous local poets. There are so many poets in this volume and so many want to participate in the reading, that, with one poem assigned to each poem, the reading lasts from 1 p.m. to well over 4:30 p.m. its scheduled end time.

Photo by Susan Rogers

I submitted poems about the traumatic experience of Poles deported from Eastern Polish lands (now Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania) by Soviet forces, starting with deportations in 1936 to Kazakhstan, and continuing through the war to 1943 when the deportations to Siberia and southern-Asian Soviet Republics continued, to end with over 1.5 million Poles forcibly displaced, deprived of their property and homes, and over half of them dying as a result of this ordeal.. My poems, included mostly in The Rainy Bread (Moonrise Press 2016) commemorated the victims and celebrate the resilience of survivors. 

One of  them, painter and visual artist Julian Stanczak, lost the use of his right hand in the Soviet gulag, but recovered his spiritual self in a refugee camp in Uganda where he started to draw. After arriving in the US and studying painting, he became one of the most important emigre painters of Polish descent, a co-founder of Op-Art, and a very significant contributor to American abstract art. I'm reprinting the poem here since Stanczak died last month. You can see more of his art on his website: JulianStanczak.com

Painting by Julian Stanczak


                         ~ to Julian Stanczak, painter extraordinaire

amber and coral —

ruby and carnelian —

He looks at the brightness of the African sky.
The blazing sunset above the plains of Uganda
His eyes follow the pattern of light and shadow 
on the savanna’s tall grass. Dark lines cut 
into light on the flanks of a zebra —
he thinks of a donkey back home, 
transformed by the extravagant, geometric 
boldness of stripes, shining bright —

blinding his eyes, used to Siberian darkness
in dim interiors of musty prison huts —
he admires the play of gold and bronze inside 
the tiger’s eye — a stone his teacher gave him
for protection and good luck. How it shifts 
with each turn, different, yet the same —
lines upon lines of light.

The richness stays under his eyelids
as he twists and turns the tiger’s eye
in his one good hand, left — while the other, 
a useless appendage, hangs limply 
since the beating in a Soviet prison camp. 
Shattered, like his dream of music,
the honey-rich tones of his cello.

He finds a different-flavored honey
in the richness of African sunsets,
the stripes of the tiger’s eye.  

He captures the undulating lines
and blazing hues on majestic canvas, 
moving in the rhythm of wild planes 
out of Africa, into fame.

— amber and topaz —

gold, bronze, and light —

so much light  —

(C) by Maja Trochimczyk, 2016, published in The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile.

Op-Art Painting by Julian Stanczak

The celebration of poetry at the Altadena Poetry Review reading and publication party included meeting lots of old and new poetry friends, as shown in photos below. 

                                          With w wonderful poets: Dr. Mira Mataric, Judith Terzi, and Dorothy Skiles. 

Wth Beverly M. Collins, author of Mud in Magic

Selfie with Kathabela Wilson, poet and artist extraordinaire.

Selfie wtih Susan Rogers, and Kathabela Wilson.

Selfie in hats, with Charles Harman, dressed in a costume for his poem.


On Sunday, April 23, 2017, at the McGroarty Arts Center (7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga, CA 91042) a celebration of poetry took place - the ninth such event in 18 years.  The local poetry and cultural community participated in the Passing of the Laurels 2017 Ceremony, with Elsa S. Frausto, the Eighth Poet Laureate (2014-2017) passing the laurel wreath and the poets' heart to Pamela Shea, the Ninth Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga, selected to serve in this voluntary and prestigious post for the years 2017-2019. Along with poet Joe DeCenzo, I served as the host of this event, selecting poems for the program, reading my own, as well as presenting some of the distinguished guests. Here's my poem, following the view from the McGroarty Arts Center's window.

View from McGroarty Arts Center, photo by Maja Trochimczyk


We are a miracle of life

We do what we want
We want what we do

We are perfect

We are a cosmic tree
We grow by the calm lake of light

Its smooth opal surface
Reflects the sun’s smiling face

Our roots drink liquid light
Our crowns sparkle with stars

Our leaves are green with peace
Our flowers are gold with joy
Our fruit is ripe with wisdom

We are a living miracle
We are perfect

From noon to midnight
From midnight to noon

We love what we do
We do what we love

We are – We shine
We are one with One

We are perfect

(C) 2017 by Maja Trochimczyk (A version in first person plural - "we" -  of a poem originally published in Into Light, 2016, the original version was in the first person singular - "I").

Hosts, Joe DeCenzo and Maja Trochimczyk, with Pamela Shea and Elsa Frausto


In 2010, Joe DeCenzo passed the laurels and congratulations to me when she became the Poet Laureate, and in 2012, he shared with her many congratulatory scrolls from government officials.

Joe DeCenzo with Maja Trochimczyk at the 2012 Passing of the Laurels Ceremony. 

At both events, I read a poem that I wrote specifically for my Passing of the Laurels ceremony in 2010. I was so delighted to be honored by so many people.  Here's the "What I love in Sunland" poem that is still true today, seven years after the original event. 

What I love in Sunland

1. The strong arms of the mountains
embracing, protecting our town.

2. Lights scattered in the night valley
during my drive to the safety of home.

3. How clouds sit on the hilltops
squishing them with their fat bottoms.

4. The river playing hide-and-go-seek under the bridge
to nowhere: "now you see me - now you don't"

5. Towering white glory of yucca flowers in June - 
we are Liliputians in Giants' country.

6. The mockingbird's melodies floating above
red-roofed houses sleeping on sunny streets.

7. Armenian fruit tarts sweeter than fresh grapefruit
and pomegranate from my trees.  

8. Hot simmering air, scented with sage and jasmine,
carved by the hummingbird's wings.

9. The rainbow of roses, always blooming 
in my secret garden.

Even though my Laurel Wreath is long gone, I'm still writing poetry that praises the life and beauty of the foothills. 

With Joe DeCenzo at the 2010 Passing of the Laurels Ceremony.