Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Review of Grateful Conversations by Michael Escoubas (Quill and Parchment, April 2019)

We are pleased to reprint the review of "Grateful Conversations" first published in Quill and Parchment, April 2019 and written by poet Michael Escoubas.  The journal announced the publication of our anthology in its December 2018 issue.



Grateful Conversations - A Poetry Anthology by Westside Women Writers
Edited by: Kathi Stafford and Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D
280 pages
ISBN: 978-1-945938-22-1 ($24.80) Paperback, 280 pp., black/white illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-945938-24-5 ($98.00) Color Paperback, 280 pages with color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-945938-23-8 ($10.00) E-Book in EPUB format with color illustrations
Publisher: Moonrise Press, 2018
To Order:
http://www.moonrisepress.com/grateful-conversations-anthology.html

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas 

Let’s meet the nine members of Westside Women Writers: Millicent Borges Accardi,
Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones-Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Sonya
Sabanac, Kathi Stafford, Ambika Talwar, and Maja Trochimczyk.

The Biblical book of Proverbs supplies an apt illustration of the poetry group known as
Westside Women Writers: “As iron sharpens iron, so one woman sharpens another.”
(Proverbs 27:17). Out of their collective diversity emerges a “communion of minds”
possible only in an atmosphere attuned to sharpening writing skills and at the same time
refining the edges of the human spirit in love and humility.

The anthology contains two parts. Part I consists of seven workshops. The workshops
were organized by group members who wrote on selected “prompts,” often taking field
trips to gain first-hand exposure to interesting art exhibits. Works of art such as the
Cycladic Harp Player, from ancient Greece, paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, exhibits
found at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and The Broad Museum provided other
challenging prompts. Themes such as “Grandparents” and “Rivers” introduced a sense of
balance and “everydayness” into the portfolio of writing topics. “Grateful Conversations”
the initial prompt, was eventually chosen as the title.

Part II, “Self Portraits,” unveils the pathos within each poet’s life.

Editors Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford preface the collection by overviewing their
respect for poetry as an “elusive gift.” Some group members have supported each other in
life and in art for more than ten years. Sometimes they surprised one another by bringing
poems on related themes without pre-planning; these occasions contributed to the
communion of minds alluded to above.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the preface and introductory pages contain a
virtual blueprint on how to form a writer’s group. The editors provide an excellent “how
to framework” that includes premise, guidelines and expectations.

Part I. Workshops: 

I looked for and found threads in each workshop, kept my fingers
wrapped around the threads, adding new ones weaving them into a unique tapestry.
“Compassion” draws me in as Accardi feels deeply for exploited workers in an Asian
clothing factory. Stafford depicts an ICU patient, His gray hair shambles its way over the
pillow top. Sabanac speculates about life’s ultimate destination in her poem by the same
name. As Trochimczyk experiences the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg in the air, she is
grateful for conversations never had but now taking place. Rogers writes,

We are but a conversation
of light. Through this exchange we trace
everything we have.

A musical thread pervades the Cycladic Harp Player as typified by Madeleine Butcher’s poem, Still, 

We listen with you
inside the wheel of time.
We wait.
It comes
like air,
a slight vibration,
a flutter,
an echo,
across time it comes,
playing still.

Color, light and song add to the garment as the writers respond to works by Van Gogh in
Workshop 3. In My Grandmother Danced the Kazatzka, Susan Rogers uses a brilliant 24-
part cinquain sequence to add an “admiration” thread showing that

Ninety
was her life’s goal.
But life’s more than numbers.
Feisty Russian, she kick-danced till
the end.

By the end of the seven workshops, the writers weave a rich tapestry flowing like a river
where “rain falls in a sun-bright sky . . . out of the blue. . . . when you least expect it.”

Part II. Self-Portraits: 

I regret that space considerations prevent your reviewer from doing justice to the superior
work of each poet. The following brushstrokes lifted from each self-portrait will inspire
you to learn more . . .

Accardi,
Here Lies the Thing I Most Desire

Here lies the thing I most desire,
Mixed with a spoon until consistent
And predictable. A life you can shape
And let rise and then pound down
A Second time until it is comfort-soft
And feels like old fabric.

Butcher, 
Awesome

as in a feeling so small
before a thing so vastly greater than we,
a thing embodying a profound truth
which we can sense but not ever truly know

Jones-Davis
Essay

I tell people that I like to write poems. A day when I have a
poem in the works is a happy day. Whole afternoons are
gobbled up in the joy of working with language, building
something.

Jones
Shema!

Listen! The Rabbi says, God is One. Listen for what comes next.
When death arrives shema as a mezuzah on the threshold
of your lives, the soul’s last words before leaving the body.

Rogers
What the Trees Say

In the shrine
of an unknown God
I follow the path
of seekers

Sabanac
Kristina Hugging The Tree

Her face glows
and her eyes are closed
as she inhales the scent of pine.
This is her tree of life.
It is green and not yet tall,
but the sky offers so much space to grow.

Stafford
Division

We used to hold
hands near the bower. Now we lean together,
quiet, and that is enough.

Talwar
Kindlings . . .

If the breeze is tropical
or Icelandic it will matter not
This is love that weaves unceasingly
from land to water to air to fire that glows
far in ethers beyond our eyes can see

Trochimczyk
Essay: Why, Write?

For me, poetry writing truly is about “Grateful Conversations”— with
myself, with my friends, with the world . . . I am deeply thankful
for the ten years and many hours of conversing with Westside Women
Writers!

May more of us treasure poetry as a bridge to grateful conversations never had, but now 
taking place. 


Saturday, March 30, 2019

"Grateful Conversations" in Ventura on April 4, 2019 and 2018 Moonrise Press Bestsellers in 2018

Poets featured in the "Grateful Conversations" anthology can be heard reading their work this week on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Foster Library in Ventura  (651 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA) in a reading series hosted by Phil Taggart.  Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Lois P. Jones, and Ambika Talwar will be there and books will be available as well.



Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology 
Edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford
Paperback, 280 pp., black/white illustrations, 
  ISBN  978-1-945938-22-1  ($24.80)
Color Paperback, 280 pages with color illustration
  ISBN 978-1-945938-24-5  ($98.00)
E-Book in EPUB format with color illustrations 
 ISBN 978-1-945938-23-8 ($10.00)

The ebook with color photos is available from kobo.com
https://www.kobo.com/my/en/ebook/grateful-conversations-a-poetry-anthology

You can read the editors' introduction with the table of contents on Moonrise Press Blog http://moonrisepress.blogspot.com/2018/05/grateful-conversations-poetry-anthology.html 

A sample poems can be found on this blog: 

Kathi Stafford, Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac and Lois P. Jones at the anthology reading in Ventura.


MOONRISE PRESS BESTSELLERS IN 2018

Moonrise Press sold 334 books in 2018, with three poetry bestsellers - "Grateful Conversations" in the top position with over 100 copies sold, followed closely by "The Desert Hat" by Ed Rosenthal with over 60 copies, and "Gardens of the Earth: According to Nature" by Margaret Saine, with over 40 copies.  Congratulations to the poets! 


The Desert Hat by Ed Rosenthal


Published in October 2013, in paperback and e-book formats.
ISBN 978-09819693-7-4, paperback, 74 pages, $15.00

ISBN 978-098-19693-9-8, e-book in e-Pub format, 1.2 MB, $10.00

The “poet-broker” Ed Rosenthal was inspired by surviving alone in the Mojave Desert for six and a half days. The lyrical result of his ordeal, "The Desert Hat," consist of 36 poems illustrated with 12 photographs of his hat and Salvation Canyon where he spent most of his time. Rosenthal’s poetry does not recount his experience in detail; it is not replete with maps, photographs, and a day-by-day account of his adventures. Instead, we gain an insight into what it means to be truly lost and found, to survive the strangest of desert nights and return to the heart of the city… with a newly found wisdom and zest for life. With an introduction by Ruth Nolan and photos by Maja Trochimczyk, and Ken and Wendy Sims. For more information visit a post about this book on the Moonrise Press Blog.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Ed Rosenthal’s The Desert Hat not only recounts an incredibly vivid story of survival, but maps out the dangerous journeys of the heart and the imagination in that hallucinatory place between mind and body, between nature and man, between the past and the future. Like poet James Wright, Rosenthal ”goes/ Back to the broken ground” of the self and finds a stranger there trapped in the cosmology of an endless, unpitying desert. As the stark “sun burns holes/ into the sky” the psyche’s true-north compass finds salvation’s shade. Rosenthal climbed out of “the busted monster’s mouth” with a beautiful, moving book.   
     ~ Elena Karina Byrne,  Executive Director of AVK Arts 
In "The Desert Hat," Los Angeles poet/real estate broker Ed Rosenthal presents the mythopoetic journey through his real-life experience of being lost for 6 days in remote canyons of the Mojave Desert's Joshua Tree National Park in September, 2010. "The Desert Hat" delves deeply into the wildest and unpredictable heart of the Mojave into a storied landscape that Rosenthal renders as both recognizable to the reader and also deeply specific to his solitary and unanticipated experience, and in these poems, creates an empathetic and spiritually-affirming desert landscape that resonates within all of our desert hearts.   
~ Ruth Nolan,  Professor of English @ College of the Desert 

Gardens of the Earth by Margaret Saine

Published in September 2018 in BW and color paperback formats, 
as well as an ebook, in E-Pub format. 
ISBN 978-1-945938-25-2 (paperback), $18.00

More information: http://moonrisepress.blogspot.com/2018/09/announcing-new-poetry-volume-by.html​.  

"Gardens of the Earth: According to Nature" by Margaret Saine is a poetic exploration of nature tamed and shaped by humans, nature that in turn shapes the gardeners and gives them a purpose, a cause for action, and a reason for reflection.  Saine's inspired trip to the garden includes the seasons, rain and sunlight, multi-colored blossoms, and lots of birds. She shares her delight in gardens and gardening with a host of contemporary poets and friends and the renowned gardeners of the past. The book includes a separate section on trees, and is richly illustrated by Saine's own photographs, with the characteristic interplay of light and shadow, clouds and mists. Certain poems are translated into French, German, and Italian. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK
Gardens, as always in poetry, are pretexts. In this new book, Margaret Saine attempts to reveal to us, simply and purely, their mystery. Nature and poetry are unified in a symbiotic song of life. “Gardens of the Earth” is a peaceful symphony of beauty that pulses with the chords of human existence: the garden as metaphor of our condition of transient beings on this earth.      ~ Eliécer Almaguer

The growing of plants, their enticing being explained by a kind gardener aunt to a lonely girl. Plants, flowers, paragons of life, as recipients and keepers of personal memories. Plants, trees of the world, here seen with the oceans, as giving breath, oxygen, to human beings. And plants, reciprocally breathing the carbon dioxide humans exhale: a true terrestrial symbiosis.       ~ Sibilla De’Salici

When the trees forget /that I am there/ have truly arrived/ in their midst, says Margaret Saine.  And so I felt, reading Saine’s latest book, “Gardens of Earth”, that I had arrived in the midst of poems, as unselfconscious as the trees she inhabits. How does a poet bring a reader into the middle of gardens without becoming precious or mundane?  Saine invites us with her natural rhythm, color and the interweaving of several languages, enveloping us completely in beauty before we know what has happened to us. The poet reminds us that we are spirits, that this garden, as she says, is our entrance into matter, l’entrata in materia. If paintings could be poems or poems paintings, this book would be the avatar.
        ~ Alice Pero, author of “Thawed Stars”, founder of Moonday Reading Series  and Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble


Margaret Saine’s Gardens of the Earth is an exceptional exploration of gardens not only as a small patch of land that bring gardeners peace, but as part of a larger biosphere, connected forever to the larger world. She might start in a plot of land on the earth, but her poetry reaches out to discuss the atmosphere, an encroaching urban world, and life and death itself. Her microcosm explores the macrocosm of this world.
 ~ John Brantingham, Professor of English, Mount San Antonio College

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

"Grateful Conversations" Anthology Reading at Beyond Baroque, Friday, February 15 at 8 p.m.

WWW at the Norton Simon Museum. August 2013.
L to R: Maja, Susan, Lois, Georgia, Sonya, Madeleine and Millicent.

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California (681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90292) presented a reading from "Grateful Conversations" anthology on Friday, February 15, 8:00 PM. Regular admission $10 per person. Members FREE. 


"Grateful Conversations" - an anthology  edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford for Moonrise Press (2018) - contains poems by nine writers - calling themselves the Westside Women Writers due to the location of the founding members. The anthology is a portrait of a group of female poets, who come together each month to hone their craft and share their verse.Not all poets live on the Westside and the meetings include workshops in poets' homes, or field trips to museums to write about artwork found there, or specific artefacts selected by a workshop organizer.

 In the words of the WWW founder, Millicent Borges Accardi, this is “a community of women writers working together to support each other with strong attention to craft, to grow as writers and as people in community.” The volume includes poems written for seven workshops and self-portraits in poetry of the nine writers. The WWW group consists of Millicent Borges Accardi, Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk.


Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology 
Edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford
Paperback, 280 pp., black/white illustrations, 
  ISBN  978-1-945938-22-1  ($24.80)
Color Paperback, 280 pages with color illustration

  ISBN 978-1-945938-24-5  ($98.00)
E-Book in EPUB format with color illustrations 

 ISBN 978-1-945938-23-8 ($10.00)
http://www.moonrisepress.com/grateful-conversations-anthology.html

The ebook with color photos is available from kobo.com
https://www.kobo.com/my/en/ebook/grateful-conversations-a-poetry-anthology

You can read the editors' introduction with the table of contents on Moonrise Press Blog http://moonrisepress.blogspot.com/2018/05/grateful-conversations-poetry-anthology.html


Poets at first reading at Flintridge Bookstore, October 2018

ABOUT THIS BOOK


"Grateful Conversations, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford, brings to its readers a wealth of women's wisdom and talent. This beautiful book contains poetic self-portraits of nine poets that form the Westside Women Writers group. The poets selected their own favorite poems that represent their worldviews and experiences; they also provided illustrations - photos of nature and families. A large portion of the volume is dedicated to verse based on shared themes, prompts, or site-visits to museums. Wisdom comes with age, and all nine poets featured in this anthology are over 50 years old so they have lived through a lot. While I feel compassionate towards the tragedies they describe, both personal and of others, I particularly like poems about family, the little blessings of daily life that are too often overlooked and should be cherished, with gratitude and grace. Rarely can one find in one place so many deeply moving and inspired poems, about the traumas of the past, the gifts to be cherished in the present, and hopes for a bright future."
                                  ~ Marlene Hitt, author of Clocks and Water Drops (Moonrise Press, 2015)


Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac and Maja Trochimczyk at Bolton Hall Museum, Tujunga, CA
November 25, 2018


"I highly recommend "Grateful Conversations" for every library and poetry class. This anthology, edited by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, a Polish American scholar and poet, and Ms. Kathi Stafford, an attorney and poet, presents work by Westside Women Writers, a group of nine poets that meet every month to share poems, encourage and learn from each other. As a poetry teacher, I know how important such feedback is, and I appreciate seeing in print the proof of this work in the form of workshop poems written after site visits to local museums. As a Serbian American poet and writer, I'm also very pleased to see the work of my former poetry student, Sonya Sabanac, featured so prominently in this anthology, especially her poems about our war-torn homeland and the trauma of displacement as an emigrant. I am also very happy to read the poems of Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, whose work I have known and appreciated for many years. These two fellow Slavic authors are joined in the anthology by poets with roots in California, whose names are well known in the literary circles of America, such as Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portugese American, Ambika Talwar, an Indian American, Lois P. Jones, or Georgia Jones-Davis. Some of the poets are Jewish, some are Christian, some are spiritual without a religious denomination. All share the women's wisdom and maturity. All share their talents and poetic inspiration for which all readers should be grateful."
                                          ~ Dr. Mira N. Mataric, Poet, Writer, Translator, and Educator,
                                              Pasadena, California


Maja Trochimczyk reads at Flintridge Bookstore, La Canada, October 2018.
Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski


"Nine women poets converse, wake us up, send us to higher ground. Grateful Conversations carries us in and out of the emotion of memory, family, spirit, solid things and landscapes. Unlike much modern poetry, the nine writers present life and hope, not death and loss. This anthology gives us abundance, not scarcity, joy, not the grating irritations of guilt, fear and dissolution. There are generous portions for each poet: Accardi, Butcher, Jones-Davis, Jones, Rogers, Sabanac, Stafford, Talwar, Trochimczyk each get twenty to thirty pages of poetry with photographs taken by the poets and also there are seven sections of workshop poems. These are poets on quests for spiritual renewal, yet the poems are not sticky with New Age platitudes, but articulate, moving, textured and the reader is grateful, uplifted. “Look at these dogwood blossoms/caught in the act of flying,” writes Lois P. Jones. We look and we fly.
                                                               ~ Alice Pero, author of Thawed Stars

PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATIONS FOR 2018

The following poems from the anthology were nominated for Pushcart Prizes 2018 by the two editors:
  • Grateful Conversations Never Had, Millicent Borges Accardi (Page 5)
  • Sophie and Vincent, Madeleine S. Butcher (Page 34)
  • Harp Player, Susan Rogers (Page 18)
  • In that Banat Land, Sonya Sabanac (Page 54)
  • Sweet Fire Dance of Dissent, Ambika Talwar (Page 219)

A sample poems can be found on this blog: 
 https://moonrisepress.blogspot.com/2018/06/sample-poems-from-grateful.html

An announcement was posted in Quill and Parchment, December 2018 issue, that also included the poem "Grateful Conversations" by Susan Rogers:
http://quillandparchment.com/archives/Dec2018/new2.html

In addition, Ambika Talwar was the featured poets in the same issue, with three poems, Varanasi, and On These Wintry Days. The journal Quill and Parchment also published poem by Maja Trochimczyk  in the August issue.

http://quillandparchment.com/archives/August2018/lake.html
Maja Trochimczyk's poems from the anthology are also reprinted on other blogs with announcements of this anthology:
1) On Eating Donuts at a Krakow Airport, and introduction; on the blog: https://poetrylaurels.blogspot.com/2018/10/grateful-conversations-poetry-anthology.html

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"The Earth Time" by Lloyd Hitt Celebrates the Wisdom of a Lifetime



The Earth Time is a unique poetry collection documenting a lifetime of service of Dr. Lloyd Hitt, a Californian, pharmacist, USC graduate, Korean War veteran, writer, and community activist. The book of 46 poems is divided into five sections, focusing on: the contemplation of natural beauty and power (The Earth Time), dramatic experiences of WWII (The War Time), memories of the past that passed away too quickly (The Memory Time), milestones of a well-lived life (The Life Time), and the time of love, primarily for his wife, poet and historian Marlene Hitt (The Love Time). Dr. Hitt received many awards and honors for his tireless and dedicated community service.



ISBN 9781945938320, paperback, $15
http://www.lulu.com/shop/lloyd-hitt/the-earth-time/paperback/product-23907339.html


ISBN 978-1-945938-33-7, ebook, in ePub system, $10 
http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/the-earth-time/24521745










 
WILLIAM LLOYD HITT
A Californian, born in 1932, graduate of Verdugo Hills High School, 1949; graduate of University of Southern California School of Pharmacy with a Pharm D degree, President of the School of Pharmacy;U.S. Sargent and recipient of the Purple Heart (Korean War);Pharmacist and manager of Hobers Pharmacy, Sunland, CA 1959-1995; President of the Little Landers Historical Society for nine years; highly esteemed Sunland Tujunga citizen; Former member of the Chupa Rosa Writers; Present member of the Village Poets and the monthly readings at Bolton Hall Museum; husband of Marlene Hitt.
For many years, Dr. Hitt has served as President of the Little Landers Historical Society that manages the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. He served as President Emeritus and charter member of the Tuna Camp Coalition formed to investigate, memorialize and make public the story of the Japanese relocation camp in Tujunga which was formed to incarcerate Japanese during the three years of World War II, 1941-1943. Nancy Oda, current President of Tuna Canyon Detention Camp Coalition stated about Dr. Hitt: “He told us that his motivation to make a difference came when he faced death during the Korean War and promised to make a difference if he survived. Indeed, his life has been one of service to his community as a pharmacist and activist.”

Dr. Hitt received many awards and honors for his tireless and dedicated community service, including the titles of the Grand Marshall in Sunland Tujunga’s Independence Day Parades. He belonged to poetry groups Chupa Rosa Writers and now is a member of the Village Poets, helping to organize monthly Village Poets Readings at the Bolton Hall Museum.




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Moonrise Press Announces Its 2018 Pushcart Prize Nominations from "Grateful Conversations"

 

Moonrise Press announces its nominations to the Pushcart Prizes for the year 2018, all from the "Grateful Conversations" anthology of Westside Women Writers, edited by Kathi Stafford an Maja Trochimczyk, and published in May 2018. The nominations were selected jointly by both editors, who, obviously, could not nominate each other! 


  • Grateful Conversations Never Had, Millicent Borges Accardi (Page 5)
  • Sophie and Vincent, Madeleine S. Butcher (Page 34)
  • Harp Player, Susan Rogers (Page 18)
  • In that Banat Land, Sonya Sabanac (Page 54)
  • Sweet Fire Dance of Dissent, Ambika Talwar (Page 219)

Borges Accardi's  insightful poem about a tragic injustice and its aftermath gave rise to the title of the whole anthology, Grateful Conversations.  It is based on the prompt for one of the earlier workshops of the group: "Grateful conversations never had, but now taking place."  Butcher's poem from the Van Gogh workshop at the Norton Simon Museum is a delightful imaginary scene of the painter visited by a playful child. There is pure magic in her words. The Harp Player by Susan Rogers brings to life an ancient Greek sculpture over 5,000 years old that was the subject of a writing workshop at the Getty Villa.  Sonya Sabanac often writes about her traumatic experience as a refugee from Serbia, who barely escaped with her life. The selected poem In that Banat Land describes her family history and has a strong anti-war message that is good to hear in our troubled times.  Ambika Talwar is an inspired mystic poet weaving her Indian background into a fantastic design made of powerful imagery and potent words.  You cannot fail but be inspired by her Sweet Fire Dance of Dissent. 



MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI




MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI, a Portuguese-American writer, is the author of four poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon Poetry). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, Canto Mundo, Creative Capacity, the California Arts Council, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She’s led poetry workshops at Keystone College, Nimrod Writers Conference, The Muse in Norfolk, Virginia, and University of Texas, Austin. Her non-fiction can be found in The Writers Chronicle, Poets Quarterly, and the Portuguese American Journal. Recent readings at Brown University, Rutgers, UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College and the Carr Series at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.


MADELEINE S. BUTCHER




MADELEINE S. BUTCHER has been writing since 1979.  An actress at that time, she wrote monologues, scenes and plays, later transitioning to short stories, guided by Merrill Joan Gerber.  Poetry was always cropping up on its own, from time to time. She is a graduate of NYU School of the Arts with a BFA in dance and has performed off Broadway and on.  She has taught ballet to toddlers, teenagers and adults. She taught playwriting, modern dance, ballet and improvisation to at risk youth. Besides dance and acting, she worked as an assistant picture and sound editor on features for sixteen years.  She taught Pilates out of her home studio for ten years in Woodland Hills. She has been a member of Westside Women Writers for three years.  Her first piece was published in the West Marin Journal, 2015.She and her husband are retired, traveling and hoping to settle on San Juan Island in the great state of Washington.


SUSAN ROGERS


SUSAN ROGERS considers poetry a vehicle for light and a tool for the exchange of positive energy. She is a practitioner of Sukyo Mahikari— a spiritual practice that promotes positive thoughts, words and action. www.sukyomahikari.org  She is also a photographer and a licensed attorney. Her poems were part of the 2009 event “Celebrating Women, Body, Mind and Spirit,” the 2010 Valentine Peace Project, the 2010 event “Poetry: A Garden to the Human Spirit” held at Cypress College in Cypress, California, the 2010 Poem Flag Installation by Global Alchemy Forum and have been performed at museums and galleries in Southern California.  In 2010 she was Writer of the Week for “Words, Spirit and You,” sponsored by Tiferet Journal. One of her haiku won Honorable Mention in the 2010 Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest sponsored by the Yuki Teikei Society of Haiku. She was a featured poet at the Moonday Poetry Reading Series in 2011. Her work can be found in the book Chopin and Cherries, numerous journals, anthologies and chapbooks and can be heard online or in person as part of the audio tour for the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California. She was recently interviewed by Lois P. Jones for KPFK’s Poets Café.

SONYA SABANAC


SONYA SABANAC (maiden Zivic) was born and raised in Former Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists. Disappeared like Atlántida and left its former citizens to carry a heavy burden of constant search for a home.  Sonya was born in the City of Sarajevo, where she graduated from Sarajevo University School of Law.  In the midst of the war that made her country gone, in 1992, Sonya left the county with her family and spent two years in Denmark living as a refugee.  She immigrated into USA in 1994, and landed at Los Angeles, where she still lives. She was a passionate reader all her life and an ardent poetry lover, but she only started writing in her late forties. Sonya is a member of Los Angeles Westside Women Writers Group.  Her poems appeared in San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Magnapoets, Poetic Diversity and the anthology about Immigrant Women Shifting Balance Sheets that also published her memoir, How I Decided to Go a Little Crazy. In addition to writing, Sonya is also a photographer. She has many projects in store; one of them is to publish a book that will bond short stories with her photo images. At this point her daily job is seriously interfering with her writing career.

AMBIKA TALWAR

AMBIKA TALWAR is an educator, poet and artist, who has composed poems since her teen years. She has authored and self-published Creative Resonance: Poetry—Elegant Play, Elegant Change; 4 Stars & 25 Roses (poems for her father) and, more recently, My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses, a poetic biographical spiritual journey through Greece. She is published in Kyoto Journal; Inkwater Ink, vol. 3; Chopin with Cherries, On Divine Names; VIA, Poets on Site collections, Tower Journal, St. Julian’s Press, Life & Legends, and others. Interviewed by KPFK, she also won an award in Belgium for a short film. Her ecstatic writing style makes her poetry a “bridge to other worlds.” She resides in Los Angeles/New Delhi, practices energy medicine, and teaches at Cypress College, California. She believes it is through our creativity that we gain self-knowledge and become activators of change. creativeinfinities.com, goldenmatrixvisions.com




Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology 

Edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford

Paperback, 280 pages, with black and white illustrations
ISBN  978-1-945938-22-1  
Color Paperback, 280 pages with color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-945938-24-5 
E-Book in EPUB format with color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-945938-23-8 

http://www.moonrisepress.com/grateful-conversations-anthology.html


ABOUT THIS ANTHOLOGY


Grateful Conversations, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford, brings to its readers a wealth of women's wisdom and talent.  This beautiful book contains poetic self-portraits of nine poets that form the Westside Women Writers group.  The poets selected their own favorite poems that represent their worldviews and experiences; they also provided illustrations - photos of nature and families. A large portion of the volume is dedicated to verse based on shared themes, prompts, or site-visits to museums.  Wisdom comes with age, and all nine poets featured in this anthology are over 50 years old so they have lived through a lot.  While I feel compassionate towards the tragedies they describe, both personal and of others, I particularly like poems about family, the little blessings of daily life that are too often overlooked and should be cherished, with gratitude and grace. Rarely can one find in one place so many deeply moving and inspired poems, about the traumas of the past, the gifts to be cherished in the present, and hopes for a bright future.


                 ~ Marlene Hitt,  author of Clocks and Water Drops  (Moonrise Press, 2015)


I highly recommend Grateful Conversations for every library and poetry class. This anthology, edited by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, a Polish American scholar and poet, and Ms. Kathi Stafford, an attorney and poet, presents work by Westside Women Writers, a group of nine poets that meet every month to share poems, encourage and learn from each other. As a poetry teacher, I know how important such feedback is, and I appreciate seeing in print the proof of this work in the form of workshop poems written after site visits to local museums. As a Serbian American poet and writer, I'm also very pleased to see the work of my former poetry student, Sonya Sabanac, featured so prominently in this anthology, especially her poems about our war-torn homeland and the trauma of displacement as an emigrant. I am also very happy to read the poems of Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, whose work I have known and appreciated for many years. These two fellow Slavic authors are joined in the anthology by poets with roots in California, whose names are well known in the literary circles of America, such as Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portugese American, Ambika Talwar, an Indian American, Lois P. Jones, or Georgia Jones-Davis.  Some of the poets are Jewish, some are Christian, some are spiritual without a religious denomination. All share the women's wisdom and maturity. All share their talents and poetic inspiration for which all readers should be grateful.

                    ~ Dr. Mira N. Mataric, Poet, Writer, Translator, and Educator, Pasadena, CA


Nine women poets converse, wake us up, send us to higher ground. Grateful Conversations carries us in and out of the emotion of memory, family, spirit, solid things and landscapes. Unlike much modern poetry, the nine writers present life and hope, not death and loss. This anthology gives us abundance, not scarcity, joy, not the grating irritations of guilt, fear and dissolution. There are general portions for each poet: Accardi, Butcher, Jones-Davis, Jones, Rogers, Sabanac, Stafford, Talwar, Trochimczyk each get twenty to thirty pages of poetry with photographs taken by the poets and also there are seven sections of workshop poems. These are poets on quests for spiritual renewal, yet the poems are not sticky with New Age platitudes, but articulate, moving, textured and the reader is grateful, uplifted. “Look at these dogwood blossoms/caught in the act of flying,” writes Lois P. Jones.  We look and we fly.
                      ~ Alice Pero, author of Thawed Stars


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Poets Hitt, Mataric, and Pero About "Grateful Conversations" Anthology. November 25 Reading



"Grateful Conversations, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford, brings to its readers a wealth of women's wisdom and talent.  This beautiful book contains poetic self-portraits of nine poets that form the Westside Women Writers group.  The poets selected their own favorite poems that represent their worldviews and experiences; they also provided illustrations - photos of nature and families. A large portion of the volume is dedicated to verse based on shared themes, prompts, or site-visits to museums.  Wisdom comes with age, and all nine poets featured in this anthology are over 50 years old so they have lived through a lot.  While I feel compassionate towards the tragedies they describe, both personal and of others, I particularly like poems about family, the little blessings of daily life that are too often overlooked and should be cherished, with gratitude and grace. Rarely can one find in one place so many deeply moving and inspired poems, about the traumas of the past, the gifts to be cherished in the present, and hopes for a bright future."

             ~ Marlene Hitt,  author of Clocks and Water Drops  (Moonrise Press, 2015)

"I highly recommend "Grateful Conversations" for every library and poetry class. This anthology, edited by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, a Polish American scholar and poet, and Ms. Kathi Stafford, an attorney and poet, presents work by Westside Women Writers, a group of nine poets that meet every month to share poems, encourage and learn from each other. As a poetry teacher, I know how important such feedback is, and I appreciate seeing in print the proof of this work in the form of workshop poems written after site visits to local museums. As a Serbian American poet and writer, I'm also very pleased to see the work of my former poetry student, Sonya Sabanac, featured so prominently in this anthology, especially her poems about our war-torn homeland and the trauma of displacement as an emigrant. I am also very happy to read the poems of Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, whose work I have known and appreciated for many years. These two fellow Slavic authors are joined in the anthology by poets with roots in California, whose names are well known in the literary circles of America, such as Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portugese American, Ambika Talwar, an Indian American, Lois P. Jones, or Georgia Jones-Davis.  Some of the poets are Jewish, some are Christian, some are spiritual without a religious denomination. All share the women's wisdom and maturity. All share their talents and poetic inspiration for which all readers should be grateful."

              ~ Dr. Mira N. Mataric, Poet, Writer, Translator, and Educator, Pasadena, California

"Nine women poets converse, wake us up, send us to higher ground. Grateful Conversations carries us in and out of the emotion of memory, family, spirit, solid things and landscapes. Unlike much modern poetry, the nine writers present life and hope, not death and loss. This anthology gives us abundance, not scarcity, joy, not the grating irritations of guilt, fear and dissolution. There are generous portions for each poet: Accardi, Butcher, Jones-Davis, Jones, Rogers, Sabanac, Stafford, Talwar, Trochimczyk each get twenty to thirty pages of poetry with photographs taken by the poets and also there are seven sections of workshop poems. These are poets on quests for spiritual renewal, yet the poems are not sticky with New Age platitudes, but articulate, moving, textured and the reader is grateful, uplifted. “Look at these dogwood blossoms/caught in the act of flying,” writes Lois P. Jones.  We look and we fly.

           ~ Alice Pero, author of Thawed Stars



Maja Trochimczyk, Sonya Sabanac and Susan Rogers


PHOTOS FROM NOVEMBER 25, 2018 READING AT BOLTON HALL MUSEUM

Grateful Conversations anthology was represented by Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac and Maja Trochimczyk, with a reading focused on the themes of gratitude, personal history, and life wisdom.



Maja Trochimczyk read her "Ode of the Lost" as well as the Lady with an Ermine" and Ciocia Tonia, about the fate of her maternal great aunt, deported to Siberia by Soviets in 1940/

Ciocia Tonia

~ for my Mother’s Aunt, Antonina “Tonia” Glińska, 
   deported by the Soviets to Siberia in 1940


Only a pear tree
between fields of sugar beets and corn.

Ripe pears — that’s all left from the house, 
barn and orchard. The farm where she raised 
her sons, milked her cows, and baked her bread.

Only a pear  tree. A lone memento 
standing forlorn in an August field.

They ploughed it over— the village church and bus stops, 
the neighbors’ corrals, where their horses used to neigh.
They ploughed it over — her garden of herbs 
and cosmos, its fragile lace of leaves kissed 
by sunlight, a dream of a flower, really — 
she used to so love its ephemeral beauty, 
a ghost of the past.

It was the worst, then, to see her neighbors 
running with news — her husband shot 
in the middle of the dusty village road.

No time for grief, she saved her tears for later.
The orders came at once: a day to pack,
a long train ride to an unfamiliar city, 
near a river she never longed to see.

They said, pack wisely — take only
 the warmest clothes, boots, pillows. 
Bring as much food as you can carry. 

Where you are going, there is nothing, 
except for freezing breath 
and bitter cold. 

It is not painful now, just surprising, 
her whole life gone, and only one tree left.
No trace of her ancestral village on the maps.

Only a pear tree 
in an empty field of stubble.

Only a pearl tree 
in her golden field of dreams. 

(c) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk







Sonya Sabanac read poems about her immigrant experience as a war refugee from Serbia, who left during the Balkan war. Having lost everything and having left her country in a rush to save her life, she made a powerful anti-war statement in a poem that took over 10 years to write.






Susan Rogers presented five of her favorite poems, including perennial favorites, The Origin is One, Grass, and Longing for October, as well as the Grateful Conversations title poem of the entire anthology.


Susan Rogers

Grateful Conversations 


Everything we have we’re given
in love to use in love, in grace.
There is nothing we alone have written.

We are but a conversation
of light. Through this exchange we trace
everything we have. We’re given

sour and sweet, lemon, raisin
and grain to bind them into place—
There is nothing we alone have written.

We eat cakes but have forgotten
their origin. We have erased
everything. We have; we’re given.

We look. We laugh. We love. We listen.
We welcome gifts we embrace.
Yet there is nothing we alone have written.

Watch sunset turn to a ribbon.
Remember honey and its taste.
Everything we have we’re given.
There is nothing we alone have written.

(c) 2018 by Susan Rogers

Sonya Sabanac

Poets from Nov 25 reading. L to R seated: Sonya Sabanac, Andrew Kolo,
Susan Rogers, Konrad Tademar, Liliana Tademar. Standing: Mira Mataric
Maja Trochimczyk, Joe DeCenzo, Marlene Hitt, Phil Larsen, Pam Shea, and
guitarist Mark Achuff, special guest musician.