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, 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 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 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.  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 (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 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.,

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


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