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.

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