Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford (May 2018)


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

Moonrise Press is pleased to announce the publication of Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford. Grateful Conversations is a portrait of a group of female poets from California, who come together each month to hone their craft and share their verse.  Known as Westside Women Writers and active as a group since 2008, they include Millicent Borges Accardi, Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk. 

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  poetic self-portraits of the nine writers.  Many photographs by the poets (Madeleine S. Butcher, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk) provide illustrations for the poems. 

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


“In the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”
— Wisława Szymborska

Poetry is an elusive gift. The women whose work is reflected in this volume have supported each other in their ongoing writing—some of them for as long as ten years. We express our support and gratitude to all the family, friends, and fellow writers on this journey with us.

Our group expanded and contracted: some women traveled a lot, others moved away, still others had to deal with illness and pain. Yet, we continued to meet and share poems, to be an inspiration for each other, especially in “arid” creative times. 

The title of our anthology “Grateful Conversations” comes from a prompt by our “Fearless Leader” Millicent Borges Accardi that was given back in 2010 to a then-smaller group. It resulted in poems that remained among the favorites of their authors.  Indeed, writing and participating in a poetry group leads to may “Grateful Conversations” – filled with appreciation for different sensitivities and life-experiences, and for shared interests in the poetic craft. 

During the workshops, we often had the eerie experience of bringing poems on related themes without planning this in advance. Interestingly, the “communion of minds” also permeated the critiques: if most poets thought that a line, ending, beginning or a metaphor were awkward, too wordy or uninspired – it was clear that revisions were in order.  

The idea of putting together an anthology based on our workshops was born in early 2016 and it has taken over two years to assemble the materials. 

We are fascinated with the diversity of poetic responses to the same prompt – be it word, image, or place. Thus, we present poems from our workshops and field trips, hoping that our readers will find their diversity refreshing.  The only criterion for inclusion of a workshop in this anthology is to have at least three poems that resulted from it.  

We asked poets to contribute mini-essays about their personal experience with poetry and the Westside Women Writers group. The poets selected their favorite poems for a self-portrait. Poems in this section may or may not have been presented for critique during our workshops; some poems may have been previously published somewhere else. They have been chosen with great care to represent what each poet thinks of herself – as samples of her most important work, or testimonials to the most significant steps in life journey, commemorated in poetry.

We are thrilled to reach the finish line and present to our readers poems, essays and photographs by Westside Women Writers. 

Let the Grateful Conversations continue…

— Maja Trochimczyk & Kathi Stafford

Madeleine and Millicent at the Norton Simon Museum, August 2013.


Prior Publication Credits, xi
Preface by the Editors, Maja Trochimczyk &Kathy Stafford, xiii
Introduction by Millicent Borges Accardi, xv

Part I — Workshops, 1

Workshop 1 —Writing on a Prompt, 3
By Millicent Borges Accardi (2011): ”grateful conversations never had but now taking place”

  • Grateful Conversations Never Had — Millicent Borges Accardi, 5
  • Culver City, ICU — Kathi Stafford, 7
  • The Ultimate Destination — Sonya Sabanac, 8
  • The Lake of Claret — Maja Trochimczyk, 9
  • The Next Flight — Ambika Talwar, 11
  • Grateful Conversations — Susan Rogers, 12

Lois, Ambika, Kathi, Maja and Susan after Lois’s featured reading at Bolton Hall Museum, Tujunga, August 2017.

Workshop 2 —The Harpist at the Getty Villa13
Organized by Kathi Stafford in March 2013, to see the “Cycladic Harp Player” (2700 -2300 BC), an ancient sculpture at the Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades

  • Still — Madeleine S. Butcher, 15
  • Harp Player — Lois P. Jones, 16
  • Harp Player — Susan Rogers, 18
  • Seven Strings — Kathi Stafford, 19
  • Proposal — Ambika Talwar, 21
  • A Song of Stillness — Maja Trochimczyk, 23

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

Workshop 3 —Van Gogh at Norton Simon Museum25
Organized by Maja Trochimczyk in August 2013. Based on two paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, “The Mulberry Tree” and “Winter (Vicarage Garden under Snow)” in the permanent collection of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

  • Wild Hair — Millicent Borges Accardi, 27
  • Winter in the Vicarage Garden — Millicent Borges Accardi, 28
  • After Vincent Van Gogh’s “Winter (The Vicarage Garden under Snow)”— Lois P. Jones, 29
  • Premonition — Sonya Sabanac, 30
  • Into Color, Into Light — Maja Trochimczyk, 31
  • Half Summer - Half Wintergreen — Ambika Talwar, 33
  • Sophie and Vincent — Madeleine S. Butcher, 34
  • The Mulberry Song — Maja Trochimczyk, 36
  • Mulberry — Kathi Stafford, 38
  • Greenery — Georgia Jones-Davis, 39
  • Café Terrace with Tarkovsky —Susan Rogers, 40

Madeleine, Millicent, Sonya and Kathi in Sonya's Garden, 2016.

Workshop 4—Grandparents, 41
Proposed by Georgia Jones-Davis and Kathi Stafford, 2015

Baba —Madeleine S. Butcher, 43
My Grandmother Danced the Kazatzka — S. Rogers, 47
Grandfather’s Ring — Susan Rogers, 52
Emily at Auschwitz — Georgia Jones-Davis, 53
In That Banat Land — Sonya Sabanac, 54
A Letter to My Ancestor — Sonya Sabanac, 56
How to Make a Mazurka—Maja Trochimczyk, 58
Ciocia Tonia — Maja Trochimczyk, 60
Philosophy of the Skillet — Kathi Stafford, 62
Trail of Tears — Kathi Stafford, 64
Vajir Dei – Minister Goddess — Ambika Talwar, 65

Workshop 5 —The Museum of Jurassic Technology, 69
Organized by Lois P. Jones, Culver City, February 2016.

  • Tea with Canis Major — Ambika Talwar, 71
  • Cat’s Cradle — Georgia Jones-Davis, 73
  • The World Is Bound with Secret Knots — Sonya Sabanac, 74

WWW Poets at the Broad Museum. L to R: Maja Trochimczyk, Sonya Sabanac, 
Kathi Stafford, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers and Ambika Talwar, 2016

      Workshop 6 — The Broad Museum, 77
Organized by Lois P. Jones, April 2016

  • At the Broad — Kathi Stafford, 79
  • Blue Venus – I, Your Witness —Ambika Talwar, 80
  • The Infinity Room — Maja Trochimczyk, 82

    Photo by Lois P. Jones, Switzerland.

    Workshop 7 — Rivers, 85
    Proposed by Maja Trochimczyk and Sonya Sabanac, 2016

    • Find the River — Susan Rogers, 87
    • Varanasi - Luminous City — Ambika Talwar, 89
    • Shifting — Sonya Sabanac, 91
    • White River — Kathi Stafford, 92
    • Easter Apocalypsis — Maja Trochimczyk, 93

    Marbles by Charles Accardi


    1. Millicent Borges Accardi, 97

    • Here Lies the Thing I Most Desire, 98
    • Faith, 100
    • Coupling, 103
    • Ciscenje Prostora, 104
    • Only More So, 106
    • Adore the Field, 108
    • May You Vanish Like the Wind, 109

    2. Madeleine S. Butcher, 111
    • Essay, 112
    • Awesome, 114
    • My Seeing Eyes, 115
    • Aftermath, 116
    • Picture This, 117
    • Device, 118
    • To Come, 119
    • How Do I Know Thee, John Lee? 120
    • Black is the Night, 121
    • Meadow, 121
    • Bonsai, 122

    Photo by Neil Gruen, Gruen Photography.
    3. Georgia Jones-Davis, 123

    • Essay, 124
    • Safety, 126
    • The Indifference at the Molten Core, 128
    • Monumental Dog, 129
    • This Rajasthan, 131
    • Understudy, 132
    • The Visitors, 134
    • I’d Like To Travel Like William Stafford, 137
    • Points of Destination, 138

    4. Lois P. Jones, 141

    • Self Portrait, 142
    • Red Horse, 143
    • One, 145
    • Shema! 146
    • Günther’s Tree, 147
    • Trélex, 148
    • The Scent of Ariel, 150
    • Foal, 151
    • The Landscape of Flight, 153

    5. Susan Rogers, 155
    • Essay, 156
    • The Origin is One, 157
    • Kuan Yin, 160
    • Grass, 161
    • First Night in Takayama, 162
    • Longing for October, 164
    • What the Trees Say, 166
    • Across Bridges, 169
    • Shiawase, 171
    • The Poem Inside, 172
    • And the Soul Shall Dance, 174
    • This Lotus, 175
    • What Returns, 176

    6. Sonya Sabanac, 177

    • Essay: Poetry – Everlasting Moments, 178
    • A Magical Prayer, 180
    • No Man’s Land, 181
    • Mirjana, 184
    • Kristina Hugging a Tree, 186
    • Somewhere Far Across the Ocean, 188
    • Shifting Balance, 190
    • The Last Call, 191
    • The South Tower, 194
    • Upon Listening to the Sretensky Monastery Choir, 196
    • The White Fields of Sky, 198

    7. Kathi Stafford, 199
    • Essay: Tulsa Town, 200
    • These Bones, 202
    • Division, 203
    • Hive, 204
    • Blank Check, 205
    • To May in her coma after the motorcycle, 207
    • Desire, 208
    • Never Unlock, 209

    8. Ambika Talwar, 211

    • Essay: Poetry of Source Within, 212
    • Hunger of Fireflies, 216
    • Golden Pear: Patience or Penance? 217
    • Sweet Fire Dance of Dissent, 219
    • Kindlings…, 221
    • The Waking, 223
    • Singularity, 225
    • Love: Salt of the Earth, 228
    • The Fragrance of Prayer, 230

    9. Maja Trochimczyk, 231

    • Essay: Why, Write? 232
    • Definition: Writing, 234
    • In Millicent’s World, 236
    • An Ode of the Lost, 237
    • On Eating a Donut at the Kraków Airport, 239
    • Shambhala, 241
    • The Lady with an Ermine, 243
    • On Divine Comedy and Ice Cream, 245
    • Repeat after Me, 247
    • In Morning Light, 249

    Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

    Biographies, 253

    Millicent Borges Accardi, 254
    Madeleine S. Butcher, 254
    Georgia Jones-Davis, 254
    Lois P. Jones, 255
    Susan Rogers, 255
    Sonya Sabanac, 255
    Kathi Stafford, 256
    Ambika Talwar, 256
    Maja Trochimczyk, 256

    Photo by Madeleine S. Butcher

    Tuesday, May 8, 2018

    Moonrise Press Poets in the Altadena Poetry Review 2018

    On Sunday, April 29, 2018, over 60 poets published in the Altadena Poetry Review 2018 edited by Pauline Dutton and Elline Lipkin, gathered at a special event at the Altadena Library. In the photo above there are four Moonrise Press poets: Beverly M. Collins (Mud in Magic), Dorothy Skiles (anthology Meditations on Divine Names), Marlene Hitt (Clocks and Water Drops, and anthologies Chopin with Cherries and Meditations on Divine Names) and Maja Trochimczyk, publisher and editor. Also present, not yet published by Moonrise Press, is Pamela Shea, Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga. 

    Marlene Hitt published Clocks and Water Drops in 2015. here's a poem from the book:

    The Old Clock

    As old as time. As old as my time
    is the clock on the mantle at home;
    mahogany brown, sloped sides,
    its pendulum swinging with no thought of its own.
    It sits on a faded pea-green footlocker,
    Grandpa’s, from the war,
    My eyes look back at it now;
    clock, box, shadows,
    see time swing back and forth.
    Grandma lies in my brother’s room,
    cancer taking her away by small bits.
    Back and forth, time, predictable,
    with no choice for anyone,
    tick, tock, tick, tock,
    one way then the other. Stop, I plead.
    Its pendulum measures
    whether I can stand the sound or not.
    Back and forth, it subtracts the minutes
    of my Grandma’s life. 
    In one dark corner stands Death,
    not even bothering to sit down,
    a creature glaring,
    a bandana slung loosely around his neck,
    wears a Stetson, a Cowboy Death in boots,
    lasso in hand to catch her.
    He will own her, not I anymore.
    Back and forth. It is the clock I remember,
    pendulum monotonous in the night.

    (c) 2015 by Marlene Hitt

    Beverly M. Collins published Mud in Magic in 2015 as well. Here's the title poem from this wonderful collection:

    Mud in Magic

    It is to spend time on a funky junction,
    overlook the “how” and become
    “I don’t know.” It is to wear an early-bird
    coat with full feathers when the entire
    event is late. It is to find that one has tricked
    the trickster, turned the tables on the
    bait-and-switcher...and got a free ticket.

    It is to take life too serious. Put the squeeze
    on what is not right-for-you, feel it sting
    the palm of your hand like a bumble bee
    on the blind side of an apple...but win the bushel.

    Mud in magic can be welcome, as “loud”
    at the library, “quiet” at an amusement park,
    fun as a root canal one day before the feast.
    It can murk up the view of a clear day then dry
    quickly. It is the moment a way with words does
    not win one a way with other things wanted.

    It is to select a fall-from-grace, show that taste
    buds are dull or absent from the mouth altogether.
    It is to be drunk on foolishness, shame one’s way
    up the side of the nearest mountain, then watch
    the seeds evolve into practical moves.

    Proof in the face, some stumble and win the race
    one  foot behind the other; however triumphant 
    or tragic. The low-down on high-life appears
    that dry desert has hidden moisture
    and there are obvious bits of mud in magic.

    (c) 2015 by Beverly M. Collins

    Maja Trochimczyk read her poem "On Squaring a Circle" that first appeared in Into Light: Poems and Incantations (2016). 

    On Squaring the Circle

    It is a simple square that contains the circle
    four ideas, four words

    — Sorry — Forgive — Thank — Love —

    No need for explanations,
    long winding roads of words
    leading into the arid desert
    of heartless intellect, auras
    of geometric shapes floating above
    your head a scattered halo
    of squares, sharp-edged cubes
    prickly triangles, and hexahedrons

    No, not that. Instead let us find
    the cornerstone. Simplicity.

    Sorry — to erase the past

    Forgive— to open a path into the future

    Thank— to suffuse the way, each moment
    with the velvet softness of gratitude

    Love — to find a pearl unlike any other,
    a jewel of lustrous shine incomparable,
    dazzling, smooth, pulsating sphere

    A dot on the horizon grows
    as you, step by step, come closer
    until you enter into the shining
    palace without rooms
    where inside is outside,
    the circumference is in the point,
    the point in the circumference

    where movement is stillness
    and stillness dances within —
    traveling to a myriad planets,
    suns, galaxies, with unheard-of
    velocity, everywhere at once

    Love everyone — Respect everything

    *     *    *

    So that’s how you square a circle

    (c) 2016 by Maja Trochimczyk