Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Winners of CSPS's 34th Annual Poetry Contest, 2020

The 34th Annual Poetry Contest of the California State Poetry Society was managed by Joyce Snyder and adjudicated by Kaecey McCormick, Poet Laureate of the City of Cupertino, California. The results are as follows: 


1st  Prize — “Respite” by Anara Guard of Sacramento, CA 

2nd Prize  — “Low Sun Angle” by Susan Gunter of Santa Rosa, CA 

3rd Prize  — “Boundaries” by Barbara Allen of Palo Alto, CA 

The prize-winning poems have been published in the California Quarterly, vol. 46 no. 4 in December 2020.  https://www.californiastatepoetrysociety.com/2020/11/california-quarterly-vol-46-no-4-winter.html


“The Gain” by Hilary King of Los Altos, CA

“More War Than the One Staying Alive Demands of Us” by Abby Bogomolny of Santa Rosa, CA

“April, 2020” by Mark Meierding of Rohnert Park, CA

“For My Twelve Students Absent on Halloween” by Kathleen McClung of San Francisco, CA

“Covers” by Greg Gregory of Antelope, CA


Reading poetry requires curiosity and a willingness to learn. Each piece is a lesson, each line a challenge to one’s subconscious biases. Every poem submitted this year offers something unique, and choosing the winners was not an easy task. I am grateful to each contestant for sharing their creative spirit and am honored to have learned from these wise and honest writers. 


A meditative and pensive piece, this short poem lingers long after the reader sets the page down. “Respite” demonstrates the ability of poetry to transport the reader in mood and place. The first two lines both pull the reader in and slow the reader down, setting the rhythm and tone of what is to follow. Simple yet powerful imagery planted in lines six and seven allow the reader to celebrate along with the speaker, and the language choice evokes a sense of timelessness. The entle command of the third stanza is a call to action, an offering for the reader to seek respite in nature again. As a whole, this well-crafted poem succeeds in delivering what the title offers. 


A modern sonnet, this poem begins and ends with strong imagery. The soft, slow language in the second line contrasts with the blunt language in line three, setting a pensive and reflective mood. Concrete language grounds the poem, making the images accessible while the lexicon evokes a sense of discomfort, contemplation, and loss. The steady rhythm leads the reader deeper into the reflection, and sound plays an important role. The couplet works to solidify the theme, yet the soft hiss of the final word (“space”) adds to the simile’s power and brings the poem to a soft, slow close. 


Deceptively simple, the poem’s short form and lines hide a powerful and effective metaphor. The title leads the reader into the poem and plays a key role in unlocking the poem’s message. The 30 words in the poem are so effectively selected that those few present succeed in creating a vivid image and compelling analogy. The kitchen references set the scene, evoking a sense of familiarity and continuity through the shift in stanza two. While the message of the poem is straightforward, it is skillfully realized, highlighting how a short poem can showcase complex themes. 

"Redwood Creek" by Karen Winters,  20 x 16", oil
karensblog.com; karenwinters.com


In deep woods, 

language slows down: 

first the tongue, 

then the mind. 

With reverence, we gaze: 

oh, the red soil, 

oh, the fern’s green. 

We thank the cobblers and knitters 

who outfitted us, 

the trail makers, 

the grove savers. 

Into this silence, listen well. 

Fresh words will arise,

unhurried thoughts, 

allowing us to ask 

the right questions 

when we return.  

Anara Guard  

Sacramento, California 

First Prize Winner 

Anara Guard grew up in Chicago where she studied writing at the Urban Gateways Young Writers Workshop with Kathleen Agena and Sterling Plumpp, at the Columbia College Story Workshop, and at St. Joseph’s College with Stu Dybek. While attending Kenyon College, she was awarded the John Crowe Ransom Poetry Prize and the Doris Crozier Award. At the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, Guard studied with Norman Corwin; in the fiction workshop at Bread Loaf Writers Conference with Robert Cohen and Alix Ohlin. In 2016, she attended the fiction workshop at Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She lives in northern California with her husband David Hutchinson. 



The hours weight the winter light down,

dried daisy stalks sashaying in the wind. 

I’m flattened by my own history, 

trying to compost a past I can’t revive. 

Today my memories nag at me, 

that empyrean of years, felonies 

of mind like so many bees mining 

the purple starred rosemary blooms. 

My tongue licks words for the honey 

of remembered tunes, for the nectar

of winter afterthoughts, those blue 

candles I can’t quite snuff. 

Old age is like that: thoughts like 

spider webs, trailing into space. 

Susan E. Gunter   

Santa Rosa, California

Second Prize Winner 

Susan E. Gunter is a professor of English emerita and a three-time Fulbright scholar in American and gender studies. She has published poems in America (Atlanta Review, Louisville Review, Paterson Review, Poet Lore, and many other journals), Bulgaria, England, Montenegro, and Sweden. Her reviews of poetry have appeared in American Arts Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, and The Harvard Review. She has also published three academic books on the Henry and William James family. She lives in Santa Rosa, where she paints watercolors, plays golf, and helps care for her grandchildren. 

"Vineyard Valley" by Karen Winters, 18x24, oil on linen


She wished for me 

to hold her pain 

in my red ribbed mixing bowl, 

balanced on my belly 

just beneath the heart. 

I offered her instead, 

my arm outstretched, 

a teaspoon.  

Barbara Allen 

Palo Alto, California 

Third Prize Winner

Barbara Allen’s interest in poetry began as a child reading weekly from “101 Famous Poems” to her visually impaired great aunt.   Her fascination with poetry continued throughout her four decades of elementary teaching career.  Upon retirement, she joined an adult education poetry appreciation class and began attending various writing workshops and retreats.  In 2014, she established Palo Alto’s first Poetry Post outside her kitchen door, posting a classic or contemporary poem weekly for the community’s reading pleasure. Reading poetry has become a daily practice, as she seeks poetry for The Post that reflects a particular time or season. As a writer, Barbara is enchanted with the hunt for “just the right words in just the right order.” Boundaries is her first publication and award.


Kaecey McCormick, the 2020 Contest judge, is an author, artist and educator who was named 2018-2020 Poet Laureate for the City of Cupertino. She holds degrees in Anthropology & Psychology from UCLA and the University of Maryland, and an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. Her poetic work has been featured in numerous journals & anthologies. Her recent chapbook, Pixelated Tears is currently available and her book The Creativity Blueprint is forthcoming. 

"June Lake Sunset" by Karen Winters, 24x30, oil on linen


This contest is open to all poets, whether or not they are members of the CSPS. Poems must be uploaded to our website or postmarked from March 1st through June 30th. Reading fees for all entries, domestic or international, are $3.00 per poem for members and $6.00 per poem for nonmembers. There is an 80-line (two page) limit for each poem. Winning entries are announced on our website, blog, and in the CSPS Newsbriefs included in the fourth issue of the California Quarterly in a given year. 

Poets winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes receive $100, $50 and $25, respectively. As many as five Honorable Mentions may also be awarded. Placing poets are published in the fourth issue of the CQ in the contest year. The Honorable Mention poems and other submissions are forwarded to the CQ editors for possible inclusion in the subsequent issue. Contest results are posted on our website.  If submitting by mail, send a cover letter with all poet information and a list of submitted poems, one copy of each poem with no poet identification, plus an email or SASE for contest results, to:     

CSPS Annual Contest Chair 

3371 Thomas Drive Palo Alto, California 94303 

Photos from High Sierras, CA - near Huntington Lake by Maja Trochimczyk
Artwork by Karen Winters, California painter based in La Canada.

Friday, December 25, 2020

CSPS Newsbriefs vol. 46 no. 4 by Maja Trochimczyk (Winter 2020)

NEWSBRIEFS 2020, No. 4 (Winter 2020)

The end of an era. That’s how we can describe this year 2020, that instead of the perfect 2020 vision gave us crisis, turmoil and plenty of departures. 

After the resignation of Pearl Karrer and Nancy Cavers Dougherty from the California Quarterly’s Editorial Board in the spring, we now face the departures of Terry Ehret from her role as Editor (she will stay on as a Board Director) and Margaret Saine from her role as Secretary and Editor. 

Distinguished poets and dedicated CSPS Board Members, Terry and Margaret have spent years serving the Society with their insights, expertise, and tireless efforts. 

They perfected the CQ, safeguarding the quality of poems and the publication itself, selecting crème de la crème from submissions and exceptional cover art by an international array of artists. Poets and volunteers of this caliber cannot be easily replaced and both Terry and Margaret will be sorely missed.

Meanwhile, Ambika Talwar has graciously agreed to become the Acting Secretary and we now have a new Editor, Bory Thach, whose first issue will be CQ 47:1. We are searching for more talented and hard-working poets to join our Editorial Board.  

The 2020 nominations from the CQ for The Pushcart Prize XLVI, were collected and submitted by Maura Harvey: 

  • “The Moon is an Egret” by Michael Montgomery, CQ 46:1, p. 26; 
  • “Not Mine to Shape” by David Anderson, CQ 46:1, p.14
  • “Ice Walking” by Jeeni Criscenzo, CQ 46:2, p. 39
  • “Like a Rush of Blackbirds” by Pearl Karrer, CQ 46:2, p.37
  • “America” by Dane Cervine, CQ 46:3, p. 18-19
  • “Sunlight Smiling – Three Sedoka” by Margaret Saine, CQ 46:4

Kaecey McCormick, Poet Laureate of the City of Cupertino, CA, selected the 2020 Annual Contest Winners: 

  • 1st Prize — “Respite” by Anara Guard of Sacramento, CA; 
  • 2nd Prize — “Low Sun Angle” by Susan E. Gunter of Santa Rosa, CA; 
  • 3rd Prize — “Boundaries” by Barbara Allen of Palo Alto, CA. 

The award- winning poets receive small cash prizes, and their poems are published in this issue of the California Quarterly vol. 46 no. 4 (pp. 58-60).

The CSPS Monthly Contest Judge, Alice Pero selected winners for August (Joan Gerstein’s “Self-Portrait as Clark Gable One Liner”) and for September (“Empty Chairs” by Louise Moises). These poems will appear on our blog, along with the winners for June (Joyce Futa’s “Kumquat Marmalade”) and July (Jackie Chou’s “Cerulean”). 

The former CSPS Vice-President for Communications, CQ Editor, and hard-working Chair of Monthly Poetry Contests, Keith Van Vliet died at the age of 93 on the 29th of July, 2019. A retired builder/developer and an active Rotarian, Van Vliet published two poetry books, Amber Eyeshades (2004), and Painted Edges (2008), a collection of poems and photographs, Perception’s Journey: A Visual Adventure (2006), research studies in Art Psychotherapy, and many poems in the CQ and various anthologies. 

Among other achievements, he established the San Gabriel Valley Poets that met continually since 1983, published chapbooks and gave many poetry readings. In an online tribute, SG Valley Poets wrote: “Loved and appreciated by friends and family Eldon Keith Van Vliet will long be remembered as a builder of buildings and of dreams, a writer of legendary works and an ever-constant student of the mysteries of life and the wonderment of exploration both scientifically and poetically.” 

As Margaret Saine recalls, “Keith Van Vliet was always gracious and conscientious. He was one of the early editors of the CQ. Although he was very modest and preferred to work in the background, he was quite active and highly esteemed by Julian Palley, John Harrell, and Russell Salamon. For the last six years, he received the submissions to the CSPS Monthly Contest, mailing the winners' poems to me each month, for inclusion in the former Poetry Letter.” In this issue of the CQ, we reprint Keith van Vliet’s Initial Tack from coloradoboulevard.net/mapping-the-artist-keith-van-vliet.

Since we present our Annual Contest Winners in this issue of the CQ, I cut the Newsbriefs to two pages, allowing for the inclusion of more poems. After all, our focus is poetry. Enjoy! May the New Year 2021 be peaceful, creative, and inspiring! 

Maja Trochimczyk

CSPS President


Note that the newsletter from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies is available online on the NFSPS website, in PDF format: http://www.nfsps.com/Strophes2021-Jan.pdf


And all's well that ends well - our troublesome year has ended with a monumental astronomical event that is certain to bring peace and prosperity to all in the future. The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020, the Winter Solstice, marked the end of The Age of Pisces and the commencement of the Age of Aquarius. In another calendar, it was also the end of the Kali Yuga and the beginning of the Golden Age.  Or so they say... While it may not be true, it is quite useful to shift your perspective to one of Love and Light... So let's look to the future with confidence and focus on creativity and poetic connections... http://poetrylaurels.blogspot.com/2020/12/christmas-and-new-year-after-winter.html

The CSPS Editors and Board wish our readers 
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays 
and the Best New Year Ever! 

Constant Return by Julian Stanczak, painting on the cover of CQ 46:4
Courtesy of the Stanczak Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio

Sunday, November 22, 2020

California Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 4, Winter 2020, Edited by Maja Trochimczyk

California Quarterly 46, No. 4, Winter 2020

 Cover Art: Constant Return II (1965, 39x39) by Julian Stanczak (1928-2017). 

Acrylic on Canvas. Stanczak Foundation, Cleveland.

Editor’s Note

The end of one year, the beginning of another. Calendar pages measure our days and months, spiraling through the years… This issue of the California Quarterly measures the passage of time with tetragrams by Richard Kostelanetz, a two-line poem by Elsa Samkow-Frausto, three sedoka by Margaret Saine, and a variety of longer verse, marking time with the spacing of their layouts.

I like starting to edit a new issue of the CQ with a set of themes. In this case it was the sun, solstice, and myths or folk-tales. Yes, we received a lot of “sunny” poems, for instance, from Saine (“the sun paints /a turquoise ball / behind my eyelids”) or James Tweedie (“The Silence of Sunrise”). Yet, there were far more poems that celebrate oceans, lakes, hues of water, trees, motion, transience, and the perennial themes of love and gratitude. Poets are grounded in the soil of their gardens, calmed by birdsong (Elina Petrova), or by watching ocean waves. “What do you learn when you face only blue?” asks Hedy Habra. On the quest to unravel secrets (Glory Cumbow, Sonya Sabanac), poets are taken “to that edge where / everything disappears” (Pamela Singer), an experience that “still makes you soft with longing” (David Rosenheim). How real was it in the first place?–asks Jane Stuart. “We are the human starfish,” concludes John Grey, blessing alternate universes of reincarnation.

Fittingly, the cover art is Constant Return II (1965) by Polish American painter, one of the creators of the op-art movement, Julian Stanczak (1928-2017). I am  grateful  to  the  Stanczak  Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, for allowing us to use this image. Stanczak’s WWII deportation from Poland by occupying Soviet  forces, followed by years  of imprisonment in the gulag,  ended his dream  to become a cellist, but opened a new path, that of an artist  of vibrant  colors  &   intricate   lines.   Monumental,   carefully   crafted  paintings   juxtapose   complementary   or   contrasting colors that he envisioned for us to enjoy. In this process of transmutation of tragedy and trauma  into  the  sublime,  timeless  art,  Stanczak  became  an  alchemist  of   vision,  transforming “Lead into Gold.” Poets also transmute the “Lead” of their experience into “Gold” of  their  poems,  using  words  to  define  and refine what they see, hear, and feel.  The  quest  for  artistic  truth continues on the  pages  of  this  journal,  ending  the  year  2020 with a plethora of real or metaphorical sunrises.

Maja Trochimczyk, Editor
Los Angeles, California

Constant Return II (1965, 39x39) by Julian Stanczak (1928-2017). 
Acrylic on Canvas. Stanczak Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio.


California Quarterly, Volume 46, Number 4

Perhaps the Sun -  Margaret Saine 7
A Dream: Somewhere in Kansas - Gary Metheny 8
Secrets -  Glory Cumbow 9
Inside a Book of Stories - Marilyn Robertson 10
Bookshelves  - Sarah Baker 10
In Light, Hope  - Barbara Swift Brauer 11
Did I overhear Gen say - Elsa Samkow-Frausto 11
A Map of What Already Is - Charlene Langfur 12
Richness - Caleb Coy 13
The Wonder - Sonya Sabanac 14
Childhood Memory - Louise Moises 15
Dandelions - Craig Cotter 16
Unfettered  - Timothy Paul Evans 17
Praising the Untranslatable - Karen McPherson 18
Promessas de Cera - Daniel Dias Callahan 19
Still Life - Beatrice Fazio 20
Initial Tack - Keith Van Vliet 21
Riding the Wind - Cindy Rinne 22
Daybreak, Swimming Walden - Barbara Swift Brauer 23
Corral  - Meagan Arthur 24
How Things Are - Mary Crow 25
Or What Do You Learn When… -  Hedy Habra 26
Aquamarine - Maja Trochimczyk 27
Ocean - Casey Cantrell 28
Almost Square - Mary Crow 29
Emily’s Ocean - David Sapp 30
Watershed of Souls - Lonna Blodgett 31
Reflections on Gillies Lake - Ahmad Aamir Malik 32
My poems aren’t long - Elsa Samkow-Frausto 32
Vernazza - David Rosenheim 33
Things of the Sky - Elina Petrova 34
It’s True! - Gregory Cecil 35
The Mighty - Stefano Bortolussi 36
After the Rain - Thomas Mitchell 37
The Vineyard - Ivan Amaya-Hobson 38
Once my father was young - Elsa Samkow-Frausto 38
Reading a Limbed Monterey Pine - John Schneider 39
Recipe for a Goodbye - Jackie Chou 40
Disappearance - Pamela Singer      41
Pale Horse, No Rider - Jerry Sexton 42
As If - Craig Harris 42
Or Did You Think Crushed Hopes…  Hedy Habra 43
Love’s Jewelry - Patricia Corbus 44
Sunlight Smiling  - Margaret Saine 45
Who’s To Say Eden -  Barbara Swift Brauer 46
Between the bridge... - Elsa Samkow-Frausto 46
Fortieth Birthday - Joanne Holdridge 47
Movement in Three Parts - Mike Dillon 47
Alameda, CA - Ivan Amaya-Hobson 48
Desert Snow - Bryan Kirk 49
Distance - Michael Waterson 50
Moving in Limbo - Jane Stuart 51
Reincarnation Nation - John Grey 52
We Are All Sunrises  -  Manoylov 53
The Silence of Sunrise - James A. Tweedie 54
I look up at the sun - Margaret Saine 54
Two Tetragrams - Richard Kostelanetz 55

CSPS 34th Annual Poetry Contest - List of Winners 56
The Judge’s Comments -  McCormick 56
1st Prize - Respite - Anara Guard 58
2nd Prize - Low Sun Angle - Susan E. Gunter 59
3rd Prize - Boundaries Barbara Allen 60

Contributors in Alphabetical Order 61
CSPS Contest Opportunities 62
CSPS Newsbriefs 2020, No. 4 63
Publishing Opportunities with CSPS 65
2020 CSPS Donors and Patrons 66
CSPS Membership and Patron Information 67
CSPS Membership Form 68


Maja Trochimczyk is a Californian poet, scholar, translator, photographer, and non-profit director from Poland. She studied musicology at the University of Warsaw, Poland (M.A. 1986) and sound engineering at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw (M.A. 1987). In 1988 she emigrated to Canada and in 1994 she earned her Ph.D. in musicology from McGill University in Montreal. She held Postdoctoral Fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1994-1996),and the American Council of Learned Societies (2001-2002).

Dr. Trochimczyk has been giving public readings and publishing her poetry since 2007. She published five books of poetry: Rose Always - A Love Story, 2008, rev. 2020; Miriam's Iris, or Angels in the Garden, 2008, both from Moonrise Press; Slicing the Bread (Finishing Line Press, 2014), Into Light, and The Rainy Bread (Moonrise Press, 2016). She also edited four poetry anthologies: Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse (2010); Meditations on Divine Names (2012), Grateful Conversations (2018, co-edited with Kathi Stafford), and We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology (2020, co-edited with Marlene Hitt). Her poetry and photographs appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, among others: Clockwise Cat, California Quarterly, Cosmopolitan Review, Magnapoets, Quill and Parchment, Ekphrasis Journal, Edgar Allan Poet Journal, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Literary Review, Loch Raven Review, Lummox Journal, OccuPoetry, Quill and Parchment, Phantom Seed, Pirene's Fountain, poeticdiversity, Poezja Dzisiaj, The Sage Trail, The Scream Online, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Spectrum and anthologies by Poets on Site, Southern California Haiku Study Group, and other collections. She previously edited CQ 44:4 and 45:3.

She published seven books of music studies, including: Gorecki in Context: Essays on Music (2017),  Frederic Chopin: A Reserch and Information Guide (Routledge, 2015, co-edited with William Smialek), Lutoslawski: Music and Legacy (Polish Institute of Art and Sciences in Canada, 2014, co-edited with Stanislaw Latek), and Polish Dance in Southern California (East European Monographs, Columbia University Press, 2008). Her articles appeared in American Music, Contemporary Music Review, Musical Quarterly, Computer Music Journal, Muzyka, Studia Musicologica, Leonardo, Polish American Studies, Polin, Polish Review, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians II (Macmillan), Women Composers: Music Through the Ages (G.K. Hall), Lutoslawski Studies (Oxford University Press),  The Age of Chopin (Indiana University Press), 100 Lat Muzycznej Emigracji (MEA Kultura 2018), and Homage to Tansman (Wroclaw, 2019). Her musicology work was translated into Polish, German, French, Swedish, Chinese and Japanese.

Dr. Trochimczyk is a recipient of PAHA's Creative Arts Prize (2016) for her two poetry books about WWII experience of Polish civilians, including her family under German and Soviet occupation (Slicing the Bread, 2014 and The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile, 2016). She was also honored with PAHA's Distinguished Service Award (2014), and the 2007 Swastek Prize for her article about Polish folk dance groups in Southern California published in the Polish American Studies. In 2012 she was presented with a medal for the promotion of Polish culture "Zasluzony dla Kultury Polskiej" from the Minister of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Poland. She also received numerous city and county honors celebrating her years of volunteering for the Polish-American community.

She was nominated Acting President  of the CSPS in February 2019 and elected President in October 2019. She currently also serves as the President of Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles. In 2009-2020, she served as the Board Secretary and Communications Director of the Polish American Historical Association. She was a member of the Editorial Board of the Ecomusicology Review and manages blogs for the  CSPS, Moonrise Press, Village Poets, and the Helena Modjeska Club, as well as her personal poetry and music blogs: PoetryLaurels.blogspot.com and ChopinwithCherries.blogspot.com.

Julian Stanczak, "Dual Glare" 1970, Akron Art Museum.

Friday, November 13, 2020

CSPS and Village Poets Present Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach on Zoom, November 22, 2020 at 4:30pm


Village Poets of Sunland Tujunga join the California State Poetry Society in presenting  poets Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach with their collaborative book "Letters under Rock" during Virtual Village Poets Monthly Reading on November 22, 2020 at 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Two Open Mike segments are included before and after the features. This presentation is partly sponsored by the Dignity Health Foundation, through a grant for "Close to Nature" Project for Phoenix Houses of Los Angeles, with the California State Poetry as one of the collaborating partners.  Bory Thach recently joined the Editorial Board of the California Quarterly, the journal of the CSPS, published since 1972.


Maja Trochimczyk, CPSP President, is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Village Poets and CSPS Present Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach

Time: Nov 22, 2020 04:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 846 3693 4326 Passcode: 746729

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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcw2LC1qV

Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach with their new book


Cindy Rinne creates fiber art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. Represented Poet by Lark Gallery, LA, CA. She was Poet in Residence for the Neutra Institute Gallery and Museum, Los Angeles, CA. A Pushcart nominee. Her poems have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, art exhibits, and dance performances. Cindy is the author of several books: silence between drumbeats (Four Feathers Press), Knife Me Split Memories (Cholla Needles Press), Letters Under Rock with Bory Thach, (Elyssar Press), and others. Her poetry appeared or forthcoming: Anti-Heroin Chic, The Poetry Barn, Verse-Virtual, LitGleam, and others, plus several anthologies including: “Feminist Pilgrimage” edited by Stacy Russo and We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Marlene Hitt (Moonrise Press, 2020). www.fiberverse.com

 Bory Thach was born in a refugee camp located on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. His family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He served in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He holds an MFA from California State University San Bernardino. Fiction and creative nonfiction fall under the art of storytelling, while poetry for him is more of a study of language, an art form. His work appeared or is forthcoming in: Pacific Review, Urban Ivy, Arteidolia, and Sand Canyon Review, plus We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Marlene Hitt. In 2020, Thach joined the Board of the California State Poetry Society as one of the Editors of the California Quarterly, to serve along with Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President, Maura Harvey, and Terry Ehret. His first volume to edit will be CQ vol. 47 no. 1, Spring 2021.


Dear Nomad,                                                                               Ancestors/Dream


I lean sideways in front of the cypress mirror and

brush my hair one hundred times as my mother

 taught me. Soak this dress with three figs

across the bodice on powder blue cotton, in the oasis,


squeezing water into my mouth. Beyond my reach,

the inherited dress floats through the layers of stacked


beings encased in clouds while light brown rabbits,

sensitive and kind, scamper like gusty winds in four


directions. Heavenly and earthly realms join.

Ashen wolf and deer my origin.  Date palms


reach, attempting to grab the dress which dodges

like a balloon. I set the brush down, smooth my dress,


and watch rabbits leap in salt grasses.

Tell me the truth.


Be my witness.


The dress. The dress. The dress.



Dear Wanderer,


Love deserves an aftertaste


before night fades into the sunrise.

Purple lightning through dark clouds,


sage green sky over dead tree.

An arm-like hand to hold up the Milky Way.


Infinite stars conquer storm

and preside over turmoil.  A cloud of empty ghosts


moves toward the crows. Lacking strength

I see another trembling

kiss by your lips separated by yin and yang.

Break away from the spider’s web. Awaken


to truth without intoxication

like tornado over water,


the red afterglow above ionosphere,

I become helpless as drifting


leaves of lavender.

A dreamland I miss and regret


where we borrow happiness…



Dear Nomad,                                                                               Hush/Unchanged


Blue dawn brightens

Pleiades, icy sun,

And hibiscus like snowflakes

Planted as totem.


Against the drifting fog,

Three guardian trees

Imprint the shrouded mountain.


I vibrate in the unbroken

Starlight as mist,


As angel.



Dear Wanderer,


The past comes back, gathering like a flower

Withered wishes.  It’s amazing how sea, sky                        

Share the same color.  I watch you fly

Up into that seafloor, 


So endlessly wide and eternal.                                              

We reach the flooded sky—

Widespread wings.

Love unchanged.  My tears flow back to you.

As burning incense turns to snow, and lightning

Bolts dance in our palms.                                                      


One yields a lotus                                                                  

The other a red string.



Dear Nomad,                                                                     Haunted/Vibrations


How many tomorrows?


Earth mother, my skin splits like textured

flakes of an old oak tree. Sunken eyes.

My hands unknot the webs. I sit cramped

in the corner radiating pyramids.


I mourn the loss

maiden to crone

alone in an ice cave, an entrance

guarded by Garnr.



encompass me.


Is this not baptism by thorns?

You would salve my wounds.

Instead, I drink tea of holly

leaves trying to heal.


Where are you?


River runs beyond my stomach.

I wear a death mask. Is Hel,

one-half bones, the other divine

preparing the transition of my soul?


Seers and shamans will travel

for my counsel. I will give them

holly for strength and wisdom.


I need

                           to see you.

Dear Wanderer,


Born from the Earth, a child of nature

among purity and innocence.  Spiritual

happiness. Tranquil love between you

and me. Face paler than snow

with ember eyes.


Why do you seem so familiar?


I’m in a stream of stars at night,

reflecting on the waves.

Delicate lilacs cover your wounds.

            Sharp eyes transform into fire.


Birds, paper the sky, only to leave star

trails. Calm, my mind as passionate

mountains where twilight dawns

into late spring, and time itself

spikes non-linear.


Unable to turn away, I stare, moon-eyed

Underwater while a bromeliad emerges

from vibrations of mantras.



                        take away my sorrow.


Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach in Costumes made by Rinne, photo by Edwin Vasquez


Published in October 2019, "Letters Under Rock" is a 82-page volume of Performance Poetry co-authored by Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach and structured as a series of letters exchanged by a Nomad and a Wanderer on their spiritual journey through life. 

ISBN 978-1087421926

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Under-Rock-Cindy-Rinne/dp/1087421926

Letters Under Rock is part poetry, dance, and wearable art—beyond that it is a rare glimpse of artistic intimacy. Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach move with a sense of purpose and sincerity that leave the audience awed by the power of beauty, love, and friendship. 

        ~ Nicelle Davis, author of The Walled Wife

It’s basically spirit through the medium of body in action.

~ Michael Thomas Cooper, author of Speaking Through Sediment

Cindy and Bory transformed the Lancaster Museum of Art and History - MOAH into a sacred space by being in perfect harmony with each other. There was something intangible that emanated from their words and choreography that transported the viewers beyond time and space. They produced a unique moment of grace where all the distractions of the world disappeared. Thank you, Cindy and Bory for sharing your sacred choreography with the audience.  

~ Marthe Aponte, mixed media artist who specializes in Picoté 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

President's Newsbriefs from California Quarterly 46:3, Fall 2020

NEWSBRIEFS 2020, No. 3 (Fall 2020)

Some say: we live in the times of Armageddon. The Last Battle has begun. Some say: it is a Great Awakening and the New Earth will be born from these pangs of pain after enough people dissolve dense, stagnant pools of ancestral trauma. Some say: we are the ones we have been waiting for. Some say: ACAB. Some say: WW1WGA. Some say: transhumanism. AI technology conquers the Universe. Some say: Shirin-Yoku, Forest Healing… Humans thrive close to the Earth. How do you find your path to truth through this thicket of words? A fortune cookie told me: “Follow your heart. It will never be wrong.” Again: “Let your boundless heart explore.”

So, I do. This summer, I discovered that I could wade in “my” stream. I share it with the whole community, of course. Someone built low rocky dams across the flow, and the water, surprisingly abundant in July, creates small pools, knee-deep at best, with sand, or gravel, or rocks on the bottom. Green algae and moss are gone, either torn away by rushing stream, or cleared by those anonymous magicians that made this summer gifts for all of us. There is a family with kids splashing and playing with a colorful plastic ball. Cheerful music becomes barely a whisper as I walk to the next mini pool: this one is deeper, with more soft sand on the bottom. Here, a pudgy boy is learning to swim, so I wade downstream along a narrow “trickle” in my old shoes, protecting my skin from cuts. I learned this trick from an ancient Tibetan folktale about a wise princess, who thought that shoes could be thrown out, but wounded feet were hard to mend. 

After braving some narrow straits and thicker bushes, I come across the third rocky dam that blocks enough water for a pleasant respite from the summer heat. I see small fish darting this way and that; shifting patterns of sunlight ripples intersect on the sand. Mountain sunflowers, called “black-eyed Susans,” lean over, greeted by mirror images on the gleaming surface of water. Perfection of a moment. 

These wild pools will disappear when the stream dries out. It was dry for so long, I stopped going there. Now, it is alive with visitors – five horse-riders go by and three dog walkers. Their happy pets greet me in the stream, splashing in shallow current, with tails wagging. The “owners” of this place are here, too – a rabbit with a white spot of a tail hops away from the trail. A duck family floats by; the watchful mom guards her brood of five, half her size, voraciously devouring green plants on the edge of the stream. 

Thus, I found my antidote to the pandemic of fear and hate in a mountain stream in the Los Angeles National Forest, on the outskirts of L.A. You could find it in the waves of the Pacific, refreshing like champagne, covering you with sea foam and scratching your toes with small rocks rolling up and down, with each wave closer to becoming sand. In time, these rocks will become sand. In time, the year 2020 will be remembered by something other than the virus, peaceful protests, riots, and… murder hornets. This year, we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Italian painter Raphael, the 250th anniversaries of the birth of poet William Wordsworth and composer Ludwig van Beethoven. British-French poet Hilaire Belloc and Italian physician and teacher Maria Montessori were both born 150 years ago. Jazz legends Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker, sitar-virtuoso Ravi Shankar and vagabond poet Charles Bukowski all celebrate their centennials this year. 

John Keats, Photogravure after J. Severn, Wellcome Library, London

The last volume of poems by John Keats appeared 200 years ago. He was only 25 years old when he died in 1821, leaving masterpieces unfinished. I started writing poetry after I turned 35, in Canada, to perfect my grasp of English (Polish is my native tongue) and bury my émigré sorrows in a deluge of words. These poems are destined to remain unpublished. I started publicly presenting my work when I decided I was no longer a victim…. Embracing victimhood is among the most toxic and deadly vices, widespread among displaced persons and émigrés.

Bory Thach

I am pleased to welcome to our Editorial Board another émigré who refuses to be a victim. Bory Thach was born in a refugee camp located on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. His family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He served in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has an MFA from California State University San Bernardino. Fiction and creative nonfiction fall under the art of storytelling, while poetry for him is more of a study of language, an art form in itself. His work appeared or is forthcoming in: Pacific Review, Urban Ivy, Arteidolia, Sand Canyon Review and We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology. His recently completed book of poetry dialogues with Cindy Rinne, Letters under Rock (2019), has been presented as a quasi-theatrical performance in art galleries and museums in Southern California. Thach joined the Editorial Board in July 2020 and will start his duties from the CQ vol. 47, no. 1.

Our Monthly Contest Judge, Alice Pero, selected the winners of two CSPS Monthly Poetry Contests: Joyce Futa’s “Kumquat Marmalade” was selected as the best poem in the month of June and Jackie Chou’s “Cerulean” was honored in July. The winners receive a small cash prize and their poems, both published in We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology (edited by yours truly and Marlene Hitt). They are also posted on our blog: CaliforniaStatePoetrySociety.com.

California Quarterly 46:2 (Summer 2020) edited by Maura Harvey received lots of praise. “Congratulations on the selection of poems for the new CQ volume. I’m enjoying the wide variety. Some are lyrical and lovely, others are thought-provoking, revealing (eg. “Hoarder’s Excuse”) or inspirational and a few I found simply puzzling. I like your poem “Message Threads” very much. The imagery is so clear, Cassandra is a strong name, and you take us brilliantly from the everyday, neighborhood sounds she listens to as she embroiders to that powerful ending when she sews in her warning, listening to the sounds of the dying universe. Stunning final lines. I also admire your well-crafted introductory Editor’s Note, as I admire your talent and skills with poetry.” (Mary Willix). “I enjoyed the poems and the playfulness of many.  The one about Hoarding Books. Pearl Karrer's poems are delightful! The sense of movement runs through both - from the granddaughter's ballet to the image of the blackbirds. Congratulations on the issue.” (Nancy Cavers Dougherty).  “Thank you so much for putting together this new collection of poetry. I love it and the cover is beautiful! I especially enjoyed your poem—’Embroidery sharpens her hearing.’” (Mai-Lon Gittelsohn). 

 “It is not often that the world shares a simultaneous cataclysm.  This is not, of course, the comet that killed the dinosaurs.  But it seems close. Even when momentous events are happening, there is usually a variety of things going on to attract the attention of poets.  This year the poetry that is being written for this volume, though perhaps not intended as such, provides a marvelous snapshot of different voices caught in the same moment of shock, but each reacting in a unique way.  Some poets, like Joe Milosch, are drawn to a timeless scene, the wait of a ship for a voyage that might not come.  Elizabeth Yahn Williams focuses on recent travel, interrupted when the world was called to a halt, writing about the last few days before we were pulled up short.  Tomas Gayton comes to terms with the frustrations of epidemiology. Deborah P Kolodji beautifully high-lights social strains with just a single flower. And then there is Deborah again, reminding us that behind it all, we are all still children blowing bubbles.” (Robert Thomas Lundy).

CSPS Member News. Maura Harvey’s poem ‘Waiting” was chosen as part of a display of ekphrastic poems by the Creative Happiness Institute and Florida State Poets Association. It will be displayed alongside the artwork which inspired it in an exhibit at the DeLand Museum of Art. Ambika Talwar published a sestina titled “The Silver River Canticle” in the August 2020 issue of Quill & Parchment. She gave a presentation titled Memory: Longing & Nostalgia to the Gaia Storytelling & Media Hub on Aug.12, 2020. Ambika participated in the Silent River Film Festival by composing four poems based on four different films. She also published a sestina titled "Svarna: Envoy to the New World" in Narrow Road Journal

Maja Trochimczyk with Cile Borman and "We Are Here" Anthology

In August 2020, I finished editing We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology (with Marlene Hitt), published to celebrate the 10th anniversary of monthly readings. Many CSPS poets appear in this volume, to mention only Margaret Saine, Ambika Talwar, Pamela Shea, Konrad Wilk and Kath Abela Wilson. I had two poems published in Polish on Pisarze.pl portal, selected to represent Polish-American émigré voices by Anna Maria Mickiewicz and Dorota Blaszak. My poem “Crystal Light of Crystal Mornings” is included in When the Virus Came Calling: COVID19 Strikes America anthology edited by Thelma T. Reyna. “A Breakup Story” appears in Spectrum No. 24 edited by Don Kingfisher Campbell. 

Thus, we all find our own ways of being of service to others, of service to the poetry world, and to the world at large that does not yet know the value of poetry in times of trouble.

By Maja Trochimczyk Ph.D.

CSPS President

NOTE: Photos of Big Tujunga stream and mountain sunflowers by Maja Trochimczyk