Wednesday, September 14, 2022

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 3, 2022 - Winners of Monthly Contests April-June 2022 and Jeff Graham, Featured Poet

 

Plums and Currants, image from a fruit plate.

Do you see how luscious the Italian plums, red and white currents are in this picture?  The author of this delightful painting remains anonymous and the painting itself is from my fruit plate with gold trim that I found in a California Goodwill. Too many “modern” sets are plain, white, thick, clumsy, and plain boring. These bunches of fruit envisioned by an Anonymous (the most prolific author of works of art in human history!) for placement on delicate porcelain, and then on dining room table, come from the still-life tradition in European painting that extends back to the Renaissance. Maybe it is time for it to be reborn? 

      Is everything new better? Is “modern” more praiseworthy for its Bauhaus-inspired simplicity than the overly ornamental Baroque? These currants remind me of a currant bush in my childhood garden and the joy of picking the ripest, golden drops of tart juice, still more sour than sweet. My Mom made the red and white currants into jelly, preserving them without cooking, to keep the Vitamin C and nutrients alive. In the Poetry Letter we preserve once-published poems and share the sweet and tart taste of words. After all, being fruitful means being creative. Enjoy the fruit of poets’ labor!

            ~ Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President

 



FEATURED POET – JEFF GRAHAM

Jeff Graham studied English and Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Author of the chapbook The Eye of Morning (Zeugma Impress Inc.), publications include appearances in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Indefinite Space, California Quarterly, Asheville Poetry Review and Grasslimb. Jeff is also a contributor to various haiku journals.

ANGELS MUNDANE

1

Slight breeze on a slight day.                            

The moth is on the bough.

The bough falls to the ground.

The moth falls with the bough.

Remnants of impact flutter upward.        

The sky remains the sky remaining.                                        

2

Nightfall’s fallen. First star lit in lanternglass.                    

The moth equatorially maps out the fiery.

Nightly happenings – happening happens. 

     Lantern-lined sky. First match’s last. 

Flicker of wings, of glint within glass fractures.

The moth equatorially crawls the skyline.                        

     No, it is the lantern that staggers 

     as on the horizon it passes past.                      

3

Between knowing what to do                              

without doing, and doing

without knowing what it does,

the moth falls not from,          

but within its capacity for grace,          

after singeing wing to star.

4

Night’s nix, dimlit wicktrim.                                     

The moth trudges the waxing moon

while traipsing through the wax:

     bothity of both.                                           

An unheld candle draws near the ever-

encompassing, all-                        

assimilating 

     nil,                                                                                               

is snuffed by a clasping of patterned wings –        

is snuffed by claspings of patterns.                               

5

Stray wasp by night –                                                                               

     irregular flicker                                   

on and off the porchlight bulb’s 

     irregular flicker,                                

together with the usual moths’ usual.                     

     Morning: 

motionlessness, though less                           

     than motion.

Swift kick of the leg of the collective 

     deckboard remainder.            

Small crawls 

     of a cenotaph of sunrise.                                                                       

6

The moth is born by end of day.                    

The moth is old by end of night.              

Fallings and Falls amid leaves 

     as (and as) leaves fall –                                        

hesitancy not of will but of lightness –                  

upon and in-with an indifferent stream                                    

that leads to a nondiscriminatory sea.                       

Of stars and of moons clung to by moths.              

Of the suns of stars and the star of the sun.          

The night is old with the moth’s decline.   

     The sea is young by morning 

                           

 NOTE: Section 3 is the edited version of a piece published in Common Ground Review, Fall/Winter 2018

 

SKETCHBOOK: ARTIST: REAL AND IMAGINARY 119 

Journey home.                                                                             

Canopy of bare branch above,                                                   

leaf over leaf over what unrevealed underfoot:

          arrival without leaving.  

                                                   NOTE: Published in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal 2021                                                

THE BANTAM HOURS 32 

Between each stride lie random patches                                            

of winter grass, too green to be green          

beneath and between the sway of brown

of summer, made grey by summer’s end,          

grey-swayed by autumn-ending’s wind.

Between each grass blade waits the void.                                   

Between each void stands a patch of grass. 

                                                              NOTE: Edited. Published in Grasslimb Spring 2020                  


NOCTURNE 1

The shadow shared by the pine and me 

becomes the whole of night.

The shadow shared by the pine and me, 

who lean into each other’s shoulders,

dances as we dance like trees, 

lets fall its leaves as humans do.      

                                                

                                                          NOTE: Published in Blue Unicorn Fall 2021


THIRST                                                                                                                                              

 Kind thief, please take from my coffee cup                        

          the rippling moon. 

I have grown tired of sipping my gaze’s reflection,                                                                 

of eclipsing my reflection’s reciprocation

with the swish of a plastic spoon.

Dearest Macrocosm, pardon my gross negligence.                                                                     

I ended up swallowing night                                                         

and am drunk on the distant lights of stars,                            

          on light, 

          on distances.

                                                         NOTE: Published in Asheville Poetry Review 2021


NOCTURNE 62

Haloed moon and I – gratefully,                                   

none but the moon and I;                                                    

none but the moon and I to notice.


                                                 NOTE: Published in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal 2022


THE BANTAM HOURS 89                     

In the inch between autumn and the hour – 

miles of which ahead and behind,                     

miles of which wide.                                                            

My striding-through’s mutual interlude –                         

mutual, thus with                                               

(thus in, thus of)                                                                      

                               and 

subsequently                                                                         

                               as.                                                                  

And as such, the inching of my steps –                                                    

mileage made up of autumn’s momentarilies.                                     

And as such, a momentary I.                                                     

                                                 The inching by

of Autumn’s catalogue of autumns.


                ~  Jeff Graham  



WINNERS OF MONTHLY CONTEST IN APRIL, MAY, JUNE 2022

Alice Pero, Monthly Contests Judge, selected the following winners. For April,  the 1st Prize was awarded to “Awaken” by Debra Darby. For May (Personifications, Characters, Portraits) the 1st Prize went to Carol L. Hatfield  "Cloud on the Ground" and the 2nd Prize to Joan Gerstein "White on White."  For June (the Supernatural), the 1st Priz wineer was, "Buffaloes Escape" by Pamela Stone Singer.  


BUFFALOES ESCAPE

 

Wrapped in cloaks of snow, buffaloes

live in Moon’s lightning-green eye.


Embedded in their bones

palimpsests reveal eternal life.


Etched with star drawings, stick figures and shapes

from outer space, their horns speak stories of worlds 


where they travel calm plains.

Water songs and ceremonies, their messages.


Wander hills and valleys: cone flowers, golden rod, milkweed.

Speak the holiness of earth.

 

                                                    ~ Pamela Stone Singer, 1st Prize, June 2022


 CLOUD ON THE GROUND   

 (for my mule, Andromeda)


Never one to be

lost

in fog - 

she calls

it

to her. 

She shines

white    as any opal -

     with a quiet

     fire

     in the belly.

The fog holds

the four-beat

    drum

of her pearl

hooves

and keeps it all

to itself.

The sky recognizes

her -

molds and

forms

soft cotton

sculptures 

in her honor.

Cloud

on the ground

she is - 

with one flick

of her tail

the rain

obeys

and we ride

the afternoon

on a veil

of grey….

iridescent 

at the core….


                                           ~ Carol L. Hatfield, First Prize, May 2022

AWAKEN

Find the strings

Ride the gleaming scales of the fish

blazing melon, gold, scarlet

nocturnal sapphire

before vanishing into the ocean at dawn.


Mooring the dreamless

dream remembering in tow

listen to the tides of morning.

The fishtail reveals its secret.


Awake to awaken

In waves of shimmering water,

The mystical call of the whale 

beckons.

Awaken

Find the strings.


~ Debra Darby, First Prize, April 2022







          


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Contents of the California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, Autumn 2022, edited by Bory Thach

Cover Art: Ambika Talwar, Gateway for Ascending Lilies
Acrylic on canvas. 24x24 inches. (c) May 1996.

 Editor’s Note

The task of selecting and arranging poems on different topics and in different styles can be difficult. However, it can also be rewarding.  Sometimes it is only after the work has been completed that we marvel at the wonderful end result. And in the process, no matter how chaotic or hopeless, we must continue and push on to the finish line. The editing process is like the subject of poems about resiliency, coping with loss and regret. It is all about the ability to find purpose even when it doesn’t feel like there is any, yet we refuse to quit on life. Christine Candland’s “Princess” illustrates this same perseve-rance: the mother holds down all the turmoil at home, with a baby and a toddler in tow, teaching “elementary, up before six: arithmetic, reading, story time” and reviewing lesson plans—all in a “satisfying day,” so her home is “content with vibration” as she counts her blessings.

In order to write poetry, it is essential for poets to read and find joy in that journey of discovery. Most importantly, poets have to nurture their artistic sensibility—much as gardeners have to tend to their plants so that the seeds sprout and bear fruit. Our everyday lives are filled with thoughts and feelings of love, peace, and happiness, sorrows and disappointments that are unpredictable from one moment to the next. 

As a veteran of the U.S. military, even after experiencing war and death, I know we cannot let the turmoil of negativity stop us from enjoying our lives to the fullest. There is more to life, even more beyond this world. All one has to do is to believe. At the end, everything balances itself out. In “A Chime Sitting on the Feeder,” Sharon Lopez Mooney notices that “there’s nothing to do today except enjoy” after watching songbirds and wrens dance without worry. Their collective jitteriness, irregular rhythms as they play “hide & seek” in her ficus tree, can only mean one thing—that we have no choice but to see beauty everywhere, especially when life reveals difficulties... not only when life is easy. May the light guide us on this road on which we’re all traveling.  Please enjoy the journey!

Bory Thach, Editor                

San Bernardino, California

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

California Quarterly, Vol 48, Number 3, Autumn 2022


Evanescence                 Greg Stidham           7

The Color Empty                     Bella Hanlon                    7

Princess                        Christine Candland              

Her Grace                   Gloria Keeley                  9

Southwest at Dusk                 Laura Johanna Braverman  10

Sun-dipped Skin                 Bella Hanlon          11

Bubble Gum                 Tara Cummins                  11

Candle Watcher                 Alessio Zanelli                  12

Bloodline                 Jane-Rebecca Cannarrella   13

In The Belly of a Canoe          Cindy Rinne          14

Tule Elk Preserve in March     Vivian Underhill                      15

Secrets of the Trackless Field      Laura Johanna Braverman   16

Oncoming Traffic                  Francesca Astiazaran           17                                           

Dirge for Solo Voice          Sharon Lopez Mooney           18

Hay Rolls                          Richard Dinges, Jr.   19

Late Night Visitor                  Greg Stidham                20

Life’s Menu                              Danny Barbare                   21

Lament on a Baked Fish         Mike Maggio                           22

Gratitude List #18                   Ace Bogges                        23

A Chime Sitting on the Feeder   Sharon Lopez Mooney      24

Rooftop Blues          Ann Olive          25

Wavespell                                Alessio Zanelli                         25

Waves of Blue                 Katia Aoun Hage           26

Long Play Record                 Dan Fitzgerald          27

Pink Moon, Red Light            Ann Olive          28

Night at the Beach House       Gloria Keeley                  29

Seven Ways of Looking at a Cardinal in Late March    Henry Stimpson   30

Star-crossed                          Wendy Blackwell          31

A Story of the Sea          Bhibu Padhi                    32

August Heat                  Richard Dinges, Jr.   33

Teetotaler                          Becky Nicole James   34

I Wonder What Heaven Looks Like For You  Angelica Medlin        35

Night Sky at Groveland           Michael McGuire                 36

Endless Spring                  Gary Metheny                   37

Manzanita                  Cindy Bousquet Harris          38

Tears of St. Lawrence          KL Straight                   39

Welcome                               Allison Collins           40

Isn’t She Lovely                  Francesca Astiazaran   42

Belonging to the Sky  Russell Rowland          43

Across a Lost Horizon             Jane Stuart                               44         

The Glistening Edge of What Remains     Ken Holland   45

Ara’s Silver                          Ambika Talwar           46

Secret Pain                          MariaJane Gitchell                   47

That’s, Interesting: Becoming A Castaway  David Bethel    48

In Loving Memory                 Wendy Blackwell          49

Roadside Roads Jeff Graham 50         

An Eagle at Starved Rock  Lucia Haase                   51

Idyll                           Jessie Lim                   52

Meeting Spot                Deborah P. Kolodji                 53

Seasons              Mary Elliott                54

Homeland Awaits           Conner Frederick          55

Butterflies in the Killing Fields    Sally Vogl                         56

The Calling           Ella Czajkowska           57         

Jar of Reasons              Cindy Bousquet Harris           58 

Cribbage for Two           Sally Vogl                   59

Afterlife                                    Bory Thach                             60


Cover Art: Ambika Talwar, Gateway for Ascending Lilies. Acrylic on canvas. 24x24 inches. (c) May 1996.

Contributors in Alphabetical Order                      61

CSPS Contest Opportunities                                62

CSPS Newsbriefs 2022, No. 2 (Maja Trochimczyk) 63

Publishing Opportunities with CSPS                 65

2022 CSPS Donors, Patrons, and Membership         67

CSPS Membership Form                                 68

          


NEWSBRIEFS 2022, NO. 3, AUTUMN 2022

Congratulations to Paul Ford, elected to serve as the 35th President of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies during the NFSPS Annual Convention held in June 2022 in Ohio. Mr. Ford had previously served as the Editor of Strophes, the NFSPS newsletter, now posted online on the Federation’s website, nfsps.com.  He wrote the following about the plans of the NFSPS Board: “We will work together to keep our societies vibrant and meet the critical challenges of today (e.g., our societies' aging demographics). […] I also want to improve the benefits of membership our societies deliver to members, such as hosting poetry readings and open mics, making major poetry events accessible via video conferencing technologies such as Zoom and partnering with other arts groups engaged in hosting public events/programs.” 

The NFSPS Annual Convention, hosted by the Ohio Poetry Association and entitled Renewal Through Poetry, was a good example for Mr. Ford, with its hybrid model of live, in-person lectures and Zoom participation, and a total attendee count of over 130. That’s impressive! Also, of 33 member states of NFSPS, 23 states were represented at the convention among the lecturers or attendees. Poets enjoyed a variety of lectures and readings either in-person or virtually. 

Another type of poetry events that Mr. Ford favors as a solution to the poets’ aging demographics and a potential magnet for younger poets, supposedly preferring performance poetry, is the poetry slam. On October 20-23, 2022, in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, the Blackberry Peach National Slam Poetry Competition will be held. Organized jointly by the NSPS and the Florida State Poets Association, this first annual championship slam poetry competition will feature 48 spoken word poets competing for prizes. 

As mentioned earlier, members of the California State Poetry Society are primarily interested in publishing and contests conducted on paper.  The California Quarterly, our flagship publication, was edited by Margaret Saine as Guest Editor in the Summer 2022 and will again see a Guest Editor, Deborah P Kolodji in the Winter 2022 issue (vol. 48, no. 4).  Ms. Kolodji, in the opinion of a member of the Editorial Board that approved this choice, is “a fine writer and very experienced as an editor/moderator." Another Editor commented: “I remember her work, and yes, I think she is capable and talented. I'm glad she is able to be a guest editor. Good choice!” 

We are looking forward to the CQ for Winter 2022, while enjoying the current issue, edited by Bory Thach. This is the second issue that he has worked on, and again he brings to the readers a diverse array of poetic inspirations, topics, and forms. The issue includes poets published in the CQ before, like Cindy Rinne or Ambika Talwar. It also features first-timers, like Ella Czajkowska, a young, bi-lingual Polish American poet from Beverly Hills.  Congratulations to all poets selected by Bory and to the Editor for crafting such a fine issue. The cover was selected from among several paintings by Ambika Talwar. Entitled Gateway for Ascending Lilies and painted in 1996 (the year I arrived in California from Canada) this sublime image perfectly captures the fleeting beauty and lasting impact of poetry.
Member News: Terry Ehret’s book tour is in progress, presenting Plagios/ Plagiarisms, Volume Two, by Mexican poet Ulalume González de León. This collection was co-translated with Nancy J. Morales and John Johnson. It was issued by the Sixteen Rivers Press with an introduction by Mary Crow. My newest collection of poems and photos, dedicated to my children and “grandchildren, when they grow up,” includes 85 poems and over 160 photos of landscapes, flowers, trees, etc. Entitled Bright Skies, the volume features “positive poetry” written in and about my garden and its visitors. It is partly inspired by the “positive psychology” movement, with a focus on what’s beautiful, good, and true – to paraphrase the ancient adage of Plato. 

Alas, it is much easier to write about what’s not beautiful and not good. We can do better than that, I think, so I wish you all a beautiful and fruitful autumn, full of poetic inspirations, charms, and delights.

 Maja Trochimczyk 
CSPS President


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Contents of the California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2, Summer 2022, edited by Margaret Saine

California Quarterly vol. 48, no. 2, Summer 2022

Cover Art: Michael Kostiuk, Dancing with the Poetry Queen,

pencil on paper, 19.50 x 15.69 cm. May 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE

Dear Poets and Lovers of Poetry,

Welcome to another issue of the California Quarterly, Number 48:2! Soon, as you can see, the CQ will complete half a century of publication, and we plan to celebrate in due course. For me, it is also some kind of anniversary, since this is the tenth issue I have edited. As you are used to by now-- and don’t seem to mind, thank you!-- my issues usually have quite a few translations, because I’m interested in poets all over the world: I read and write and translate in [and from] German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. I have studied one year of Czech and two of Navajo and know a little bit of Russian, Hungarian, Polish and Japanese. The CQ policy is to publish poems in many languages with English translation, always preceded by the original. Today we have a poem in Polish for the first time; we have already published some in other Slavic languages such as Czech, Bulgarian and Russian. Romanian, in which we’ve had a poem, is a Romance [from Latin] and Slavic language.

CQ’s practice of almost always publishing the original-- Tamil looks so pretty!— is based on the assumption that every reader is usually able to understand parts of the original in any Indo-European language, except Tamil, which is a Dravidian language. And the original is the lodestar version of the poem! Recently I found another purpose of translation, which makes a lot of sense, now that so many people in the world are multicultural and have left their original language and homeland. In the New York Review, an Armenian woman who lives in the US, and had Hindi as her third language when she was a child, is very happy when she can snap up bits of Hindi, to refresh this language she once knew, so she won’t forget it completely.

This is probably my last issue, I have had some eye trouble, I fear I’ll soon need an operation. And I shall certainly get one, since I won’t easily give up on reading and writing. I wish you a pleasant summer of good writing and reading and relaxing. May all wars end, and all people instead become poets! Please feel free to e-mail me about anything.

~ Margaret Saine, Editor                               


TABLE OF CONTENTS

California Quarterly, Vol 48, Number 2, Summer 2022

                

Acrópolis  —   Khedija Gadhoum 7

Acropolis Tr. Margaret Saine              

Runner’s Itch Johnny L. Wooten          9

Chocolate Hearts —     David John Tyrer   9

Mixed Blessing Marty Walsh 10

Se Rita Stanzione                         11

If Tr. Margaret Saine                         12

The Sadness    Graham Buchan 13

Rebirth Michael Keshigian                 14

Re:Set Text d.p. houston         15

Oranges For Wallace Stevens   — Millicent Borges Accardi 16

Lockdown Sonnet #4   —  Santiago Villafania 17

G. Floyd    —    Ismael Diadié Haïdara         18                                           

G. Floyd   — Tr. Margaret Saine                 19

On the Brink   —   William Scott Galasso 21

Myth of Origin    —   Toti O’Brien 22

Leaves Tumble Across Parking Lot  —    David E. Howerton  23

Upadek Planety Anna Maria Mickiewicz 24

The Downfall of Planets   —    Tr. Anna Maria Mickiewicz 25

Weiche ° Anomalie   —    Axel Görlach 26

Soft  ° Anomaly —   Tr. Margaret Saine 27

Door to Myself Timothy Fab-Eme 28

Close Enough  — Mike Dillon         29

With…    —    J. C. Foritano                 30

Rier Child   — Marvin Sarkar Bynoe         31

Exit  David Pratt                  32

What Muse Wants —     Doreen Beyer 33

Deciding Man   —  Sean MicKael Wilson  34

The Last Now   —     Donall Dempsey                 35

The Land I Long For     — Michael Fraley  36

Five Haiku Billy Antonio                 37

Mercury in Wood —       S. D. Dillon                 38

Why the Warmth —      Chris Falcon                 39

Dandelions Sarah Baker                 40

Once We Were God    — Michael Meyerhofer 41

Algorithms: What Do They Know? Alun  Rees 42

Pirates Bory Thach                                         43    

Elegy for Marie P. Marie Lecrivain         44

Shades of Home Anna Dunlap         45

On Solitude Lynn Hoggard         46

I Zoomed Into... — Lynn Axelrod         47

Las Palabras Tienen Frío —  Eliécer Almaguer 48

The Words Are Cold Tr. Margaret Saine 48

Lonely Sea and Stars Jane Stuart 49

Time Immortal Maja Trochimczyk         50

Collected Wounds Savita Singh ``         51

 After I Tell My Father Joanne Holdridge 52

[To Her Father] Terry Olivi ` 53

[To Her Father]     —   Tr. Margaret Saine      54

Hope Is. a Good Thing Sean MicKael Wilson 55

Querencia Alfredo Pérez Alencart 56

Safe Place tr. Margaret Saine         57

Humilitas  —   Manuel Francisco Reina 58

Humilitas    Tr. Margaret Saine         59          


Johannes Vermeer, "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" from Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands   http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/vermeer/woman-blue.html



NEWSBRIEFS 2022, NO. 2,  SUMMER 2022

 Let me repeat myself, so everyone remembers that “we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the California State Poetry Society in 2022. While the organization was founded in 1971 (so the 50th anniversary was in 2021), the first volume of the California Quarterly was published in 1972.” To celebrate the anniversary, we decided to edit a special issue of the CQ, vol. 50, no. 1 which will appear in 2024, so we have two more years to get ready for our anniversary celebration. The journal will survey best poems of past 50 volumes selected by a group of editors, that will bring the history to the present with selected new poems. Just one poem per issue would result in 200 poems; one per volume – 50, so the selection must be done by a committee from a range of choices. We are looking for volunteers to join us in this effort! It will be lots of fun!

Our parent organization is older, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies was established in 1959 and officially incorporated in 1966. The NFSPS sponsors fifty annual poetry contests with cash prizes totaling over $6,000. It also sponsors the Stevens Manuscript contest for a collection of poems by one poet,  the BlackBerry Peach Poetry Awards, and the College Undergraduate Poetry competition. Strophes is the national society's official newsletter, published quarterly and available on nfsps.com. The BlackBerry Peach Slam, first national poetry slam competition to be held in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida on October 20-23, 2022. The NSFPS Annual Convention is held at the end of June.

Poets and Artists.  So far, I have found that CSPS poets are not interested in poetry slams or live readings, but in poetry publications, they also love our ideas of connecting poetry to art, as seen in their responses to the artwork in the CQ and Poetry Letters. The CQ covers last year have been graced by the artwork of Susan Dobay, Danielle Eubanks, Vera Campion, and Diane Lee Moomey. More of their art, and of work by additional artists (Toti O’Brien, Pam Coulter Blehert, Andrena Zawinski) could be seen on our blog and in the Poetry Letters, published quarterly in PDF format and re-posted on our blog.

I’ll just quote a couple of comments by readers in appreciation of poetry and art. Joanelle Serra: “Thanks for the wonderful newsletter, I'll read it bit by bit to savor the poems. But at first glance I wanted to say that the artwork is really lovely.” Beverly Barnes: “Thank you so very much for sending these great poems!  I am here in Massachusetts amid cold wintery days, unable to go out much. The poetry is fiery warmth for my soul!” John F. Harrell: “Your Poetry Letter is amazing ... just stunning, really ..”

The Poetry Letters welcome submissions of art, poetry, and reviews to maja@moonrisepress.com. In the Poetry Letter No. 2 of 2022, we published the prize-winning poems from CSPS Monthly Poetry Contests held  in 2022 – from January to April. The first prize winners were Pamela Stone Singer, Jerry Smith, Jeff Graham, and Debra Darby. Congratulations to all the poets and many thanks to Alice Pero, our Monthly Contests Judge. Our Featured Poet was Frederick Livingston and our guest artist – poet and photographer Andrena Zawinski. We also presented three book reviews. Jacqueline Lapidus wrote about Through a Grainy Landscape by Millicent Borges Accardi. Michael Escoubas reviewed Underground River of Want by Kathleen Gregg, and an anthology edited by J.J. Ferrer, Poems to Lift You Up and Make You Smile. Escoubas ended his review with; “The best I can do is this quote by Willa Cather (1873-1947), ‘You must find your own quiet center of life and write from that to the world. In short, you must write to the human heart, the great consciousness that all humanity goes to make up.’ This is what poets do, this is what Kathleen Gregg does.”         

I must say, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I had the pleasure of editing the California Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 1 and received some pleasant comments from poets. Tammy Greenwood: “The issue is wonderful! I am so honored to be included in California Quarterly.” Keith Gorman: “The editors have done an outstanding job.” Brittany Nohra: “It looks brilliant, what a beautiful issue.” Terry Ehret: “Such an interesting, compelling selection of poems in this issue!” Pamela Stone Singer: “Thank you for publishing my poem, ‘Bullfrog Pond’ and for all that you do for the world of poetry.”

Gratitude is near the top of all human sentiments, healing in and of itself. It is also a daily nourishment, so I am happy to find so many people and things to be grateful for in CSPS. Let me cite from the editorial of the first issue of the Poetry Letter I edited in 2021 and dedicated to Margaret Saine: “I am especially grateful that she introduced me to the CSPS. Margaret’s contributions to our Society are immeasurable. To me, she is the embodiment of extensive, expert knowledge of all the arts (poetry, literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture), as well as languages, and history. I admire her deep, unyielding love of poetry in as many languages as can be brought together for the cause of peace and coexistence without violence, without wars—to seek beauty, inspiration and appreciation of the world as is, in all its darkness and light, in all its riches.  She writes and publishes poetry in English, her native German, as well as French, Italian and Spanish. She translates an international group of poets, giving them a space to share their insights. As a photographer, she depicts the world in motion—blurry, misty, ambiguous, yet enticing with mysterious patterns. Her erudite, thoughtful and passionate poems reflect her keen attention to detail, ability to see the large picture, find wisdom in nature and art. I am profoundly grateful for all the gifts Margaret brought to my life—richness of vivid language, sharp focus on quality of words expressing a thought or impression clearly and succinctly.”

I am also thankful for the talents and achievements of CSPS Members. This year, Terry Ehret, CSPS Board Member and former CQ Editor has published a volume of translations issued by the Sixteen Rivers Press. Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume Two, by Mexican poet Ulalume González de León was co-translated with Nancy J. Morales and John Johnson. The book was issued by the Sixteen Rivers Press with an  introduction  by Mary Crow. William O’Daly praised the translation: “The finely wrought, scrupulous translations chart the shifting realities, the cumulative mysteries, by doing what the poems do: They live and breathe, and invoke the untouchable language of silence.” Look for the book tour events in August and September!

Our new CQ Editor, William Scott Galasso has been very busy. His haiku have been accepted for publication by Modern Haiku, The Autumn Moon Haiku, The Heron's Nest, Blithe Spirit (U.K). The Publishing Club of Laguna Woods Anthology 2022 and The San Diego Poetry Anthology for 2021-2022. He also  participated in readings at the Spoken Word, Laguna Woods Publishing Club, the Point Loma Library in San Diego and on several Zoom events, including Verse Virtual.  

In recent winnings, Ambika Talwar shares with four others the Poiesis Award for Excellence in Literature (2021-22) for a short story. She received the Nissim International Poetry Prize (2021) for writing a poem daily during April 2021 (poetry month) with The Significant League.  Ambika published a poem in The Force is With You – a collection to honor the Indian defense forces – her poem is for her father and his batch mates (2022). She is also published in  the following anthologies: Timeless Inspirations (2022); Ruddy Ravens. Cheshire Cat & Rusty Rats; Beyond Words; Breathe Poetry (2021), and Roseate Sonnet (2020). She is a monthly contributing poet to Glo-Mag (both online and print).

My own poems appeared in Quill and Parchment, Mary Evans Picture Gallery (UK), and Pisarze.pl (in Polish). My newest poetry and photography collection, Bright Skies, was issued in May 2022, with a dedication to my children and grandchildren. Finally, this June, Shoutout LA published my second interview, this one focusing on my legacy, something I should think about “when I’m sixty-four…”

For this summer, I’m sending you my heartfelt wishes for the creation of a fantastic poetic legacy for the future generations by all CSPS members and friends!

 Maja Trochimczyk

CSPS President


Thursday, June 9, 2022

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 2 of 2022, Reviews of books by Borges Accardi, Gregg and Ferrer

 

The first part of the second  CSPS Poetry Letter of 2022 included monthly contest winners and a featured poet Frederick Livingston.  You can read it here: 


Below are reviews of books by Millicent Borges Accardi and Kathleen Gregg, and an anthology edited by J.J. Ferrer. 


JACQUELINE LAPIDUS REVIEWS 

THROUGH A GRAINY LANDSCAPE BY MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI

Through a Grainy Landscape, Millicent Borges Accardi, 85 pp. 

(New Meridian 2021), ISBN 9781737249108

Born here, nurtured by immigrants. Two languages in utero, one hard and hostile, one sibilant like seawater lapping at the shore. “Longing is the middle ground, when you have/ distant connections...” writes Millicent Borges Accardi, an award-winning poet from southern California. Through a Grainy Landscape, her new collection inspired by Portuguese and Portuguese-American writers, affirms multicultural sensibilities that resonate for a wide range of readers.

 From blurred photos and memory fragments, Borges Accardi recreates bewildering, intimidating experiences: grandparents and parents laboring on alien turf; children trying to parse adult conversation; girls encountering the same perils as in past centuries. All lost, stifled, betrayed. As Katherine Vaz writes in her Introduction, “everything is uprooted, from history to the rules for marriage.”

 By not identifying the speakers of all poems--conflating other lives with hers—this poet makes us feel their perceptions directly. Foreign words from early childhood cue current emotions:

 

.........oppressive family histories

that shape and shame

and disgrace. Whether it happens

In childhood or later, the sting

of the blur of the bite

of the belt or the tongue,

the trace of it always

swells into an unmanageablesorrow.............

Saudade, the universe has moved

On and given up its brightness...

(“The Most Vertical of Words” p5)

 

Portuguese was one of the seven deadly

jubilations, kept close at hand,

away from, the morcela made in hiding

as meu pai loaded the black blood

Into the transparent casements we kept

inside the house...

                (“The Architecture we were Born in” p. 28) 

Even a single mistake—“casements” (window frames) instead of “casings” (membranes used to make sausages)—can evoke how both children and parents struggle with language.  English tenses, so hard to learn, echo painful histories—hers, theirs, ours:

 

.......................to push away

And start over bore, born/borne

As if invisibility  could be

Run away from, a new start

in the garage of an uncle...

 

...away from beat and being beaten

down, the promised land was

to become, became, begin,

a location that pushed away

and helped folks to start over,

pretending you were someone

else to fight, fought, fought.

To flee, fled...

(“It was my Mother who Taught me to Fear” p. 9)

 Capital letters out of place, as her elders misread them, call attention to significant images:

 

 “Woman in a Yellow Dress”

 

.........polyester sheath,

trim like the body of a bottle,

a treasure promised to her from soap

and furniture polish commercials... (p8)

 




Typographical inconsistencies, like the placement of commas, generate physical unease, irregular breathing or motion sickness--a boat on rough seas, railroad cars rattling, running on city streets.  Men drowned fishing, exhausted in fields and orchards, bruised in factories. Women assaulted.

Particularly for women, then as now, certain words imply more than they say:

 

............a mere child, a poor thing, a lesser

Than to be silenced and chit-chitted away

.......

Is the female of the species only a vision

To want,

To attract, a steadfast of do or don’t

A lifetime based on one I do?

A have and a have-not no matter what?

(“You Swung Round” p42)

 Disappointments, like old habits or clothes, get handed down to the next generation:

 

......you swore it would not happen and, yet, it did

any way. You became the great

Aunt you made fun of, who took out her false teeth at dinner,

who made you cry when you had

leg braces. The woman who was hit

In the head with a hammer by her first

husband,and, yet, before that? Your

grandfather said, no one could laugh

like Anna did.

(“You’ll be Little More than This” p46)

 

............ When they

frayed, the elbows werre mended,

and torn pockets were reconnected

with thick carpet-makers’ thread.

When the sleeves were too worn

to restore, they were scissored off...

 

The buttons were pulled off by hand,

for storage in an old cookie tin,

the cloth cut into small usable pieces

for mending, for doll clothes, for

whatever was left over. The rest, torn

into jagged rags for cleaning....

(“The Graphics of Home” p47)

 Hard work, supposedly a ladder to “upward mobility,” humiliates and takes us nowhere:

 

No matter what she wears, customers

find her in the aisle or near the side-work

station and ask for extra ice or “where

is the dry wall?” People yell, Miss or You

or even Over here when they see her turn

their way, as if she were always on duty.

(“Counting Hammers at Sears” p. 59)


America” is a false promise, not the leisure or luxury dangled before us in movies and magazines.  With a parent’s death,

 

the past

slams into the present, in new ways

that the future has yet to consider

or digest. Grief is like that,

it’s shrapnel under the skin working

a way out.

(“Your Native Landscape” p. 64)

 

Even if you can’t go home, now you can go back—but, what for?  As middle age hits, the poet’s perspective shifts again:

 

There was a border

and a finish line and the path

you were on has been rolled up

like a carpet in storage...

(“Winter Arrives in Mourning Unaccompanied” p. 72)

 

    The things we used to do willingly, the things

    We were talked into as a right of form

    Or passage now slip off our fingers like rings

    In cold weather, gold rings slipping off

    Fingers and disappearing into the frozen

    like escaping through an open window.

(“Still not Ilha Enough” p. 82)

 

At the end, the title poem looks ahead with terrifying clarity: Nothing considered normal may ever be possible again:

 

And then there are the waiters,

not food service but those who are patient,

for diagnosis, for tests, for death.

The mid-line boundary between someone 

saying everything is gonna be

OK and everything is over.

 (“I’ve Driven all Night through a Grainy Landscape” p. 85)

 

Borges Accardi gratefully acknowledges the influences behind these poems and the people who helped them travel.  Even writing in isolation, none of us, especially in a commodified and fragmented society, can reach potential readers entirely by ourselves.  ♥


MICHAEL ESCOUBAS REVIEWS

UNDERGROUND RIVER OF WANT BY KATHLEEN GREGG

21 Poems, 27 Pages, Leah Huete de Maines, ISBN 978-1-64662-599-4

I have always marveled at how seeming randomness returns later to infuse life with meaning. Case in point: Kathleen Gregg’s lead poem recalls how she felt on a fateful day when paramedics strapped her dad onto a stretcher for transport to the hospital. The distraught family holding fast to each other, as the radio blares, I wanna hold your hand.

 The collection: Underground River of Want.  The poem, “January 1964.”

 Not long thereafter . . .

 

A cold tug of alarm shivers

through my body. My sister gathers me in.

Unasked questions are swallowed, churn

 

in my stomach for one terrible week. Until,

the dreaded call from mom; a bedside

summons that wrenches

 

the two of us from sleep.

 

This excerpt from “January 1964,” which channels the Beatles classic, sets the stage for a thin volume of poems which is thicker than blood with emotional depth.

One of the purposes of art is to serve as a “rudder” during tough times. When seas are rough the goal is not to capsize the boat. Underground River of Want, is ample proof. I sense that Kathleen Gregg understands this. Without poetry the ship of her life founders.

“Loss” is a key theme for Gregg. Through a series of losses the poet invites us into the surging sea of her father’s death, sexual trysts, and her failed marriage. These amputations become the source of growth within her suffering.

I am moved by the poem, “Father-less.” Without her father to tell her “No” she is in want of an emotional compass when a boy’s eyes say, “I will touch you.” This poem is of central importance. The collection’s title finds its meaning here. Still in mourning, the next several poems explore the emotional vacuum left by her father’s loss.

It is important to note that poetic form plays an important role here. The poems early-on feature gaps in word-spacing and erratic indentations. This is purposeful writing. Gregg’s use of form represents how she is feeling . . . she is showing a disjointed life. Her pain is expressed through poetic form as shown in this excerpt from “Heartbreak is a Winter Wind”:

it blows like the downward lash

of a whip on bare flesh

deep sting

    lacerating hope

 

“Heartbreak” uses powerful similes to underscore the depth of heartache:

it blows like the fat flat of a palm

shoving you backwards

 

it blows like the stiff straw

of a broom.

 

The dust of love is swept away.

With an adult daughter of my own, I too, know what it means when someone you love has lost the North Star that she needs.

The first 12 poems set the stage for a subtle shift in the poet’s fortunes. The remaining 9 poems gently raise the curtain on light. The venetian blinds are opened with a slight pull of a cord. The turn occurs in the poem, “Sometimes Freedom Is a ’93 Dodge Shadow:

Boxy, khaki green, low-end model

fully equipped

with rolldown windows,

with one of its keys permanently stuck

in the ignition,

and with two years left on the loan.

I call it my consolation prize

for losing at marriage.

But damn, that Dodge is everything

My ex-husband is not.

I wanted to jump up with a “High Five”! At this point, there is a change in both tone and form. By tone, the feel of winter’s unrelenting chill is replaced by hints of lightness, tinges of hope. By form, erratic word and line-spacing is replaced by coherent, steady stanzas and couplets. Form is steady because the poet is steady. Life is different now.

There is one good reason for the changes described above. However, if I reveal it, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a reviewer. The best I can do is this quote by Willa Cather (1873-1947), “You must find your own quiet center of life and write from that to the world. In short, you must write to the human heart, the great consciousness that all humanity goes to make up.”

This is what poets do. This is what Kathleen Gregg does.

  

Michael Escoubas, first published in Quill and Parchment





MICHAEL ESCOUBAS REVIEWS POEMS TO LIFT YOU UP 

AND MAKE YOU SMILE, JAYNE JAUDON FERRER, ED.

100 poems compiled by J.J. Ferrer; published by Parson’s Porch Books,

 ISBN 978-1-955581-09-7

In an age of Covid-19, Poems to Lift You Up and Make You Smile, takes on special significance. This anthology is needed now, as never before. However, before sinking too deeply into the pandemic season to justify the worth of poetry, it is im-portant to remember that there has always been something that, as a people, we want and need to put behind us. The collective calling of poets in any age, is to tell the truth, sometimes with a bit of an edge, but always, in this writer’s mind, with a view toward finding the best in people and illuminating the path to hope.

This has been Jayne Jaudon Ferrer’s enduring passion for the last 11 years as editor of Your Daily Poem. YDP is a valued destination for some of the best- known poets in the country. Yet, Jayne is known for her welcoming spirt to new poets as well. She has a sharp eye for poets on-the-rise and gives many their first significant exposure. Moreover, Jayne’s single-minded goal has been “to share the pleasures of poetry with those who may not have had the opportunity to develop an appreciation for that genre.”

All of this is reflected in Poems and therein lies its appeal. The careful selection of 100 poems, chosen from an archive just shy of 4,000 poems, does exactly what the title says.

As one might expect, the work is comprised of two divisions: Poems to Lift You Up and Poems to Make You Smile.

POEMS TO LIFT YOU UP

Kevin Arnold’s “One True Song,” reminds me that, in a world that values big achievements, it may be the simple things that count the most:

Our simple acts may be the warp and weft

Of the substance of our lives, what is left

 

Beyond the gifts and wills, the trusts and estates

After our belles lettres or plein air landscapes


What if our day-to-day actions, in the long slog

Of life are our lasting legacy, our true song?

 

Arnold’s deft use of couplet rhyme and understated style draws me in, lifts me up.

“Life Lines,” by Randy Cadenhead, contains much of the sage advice I grew up hearing, these excerpts draw back the curtain on the kind of person this reviewer is striving to become:

          Walk where you have never been

and wonder at the beauty of the world.

 . . . . . .

Be moderate in all things,

except goodness.

. . . . . .

Be moderate in all things,

except goodness.

. . . . . .

Listen to the music

you can find in silence.

 What strikes me as important about this anthology is the role poetry can play in our everyday lives. The above noted poem, and so many others, remind us that we are neighbors, that we share common challenges, that we are united in our suffer-ings and in our joys.

 Phyllis Beckman’s “I Am, for the Time, Being,” illustrates the point:

 This morning I was musing when

This feeling came along

Reminding me I’m comfy, that

I feel like I belong.


So glad I’m not so worried

About what’s next to be

That I miss the present “now”

That life has offered me

 

When all these special moments

Are noticed one by one

The richness of just living

Can bubble up in fun

 

So thank you to the giver

Who urges me to take

My time, though it is fleeing,

A mindful life to make!

 

I am, for the time, being.


Beckman’s judicious use of commas made me slow down, caused me to think carefully about the poem’s underlying meaning. It’s what good poets do.

  

POEMS THAT MAKE YOU SMILE

I was already smiling as I reached Poems’ transitional mid-point! There’s just something about being “lifted” that feels good.

Let’s lead-off with a poem about America’s pastime, Carol Amato’s “Baseball in Connecticut.” This well-crafted visual poem is about a player at the plate wielding a bat that “was never kid-sized.” This is a can’t miss delight with an unusual ending.

Michael Estabrook’s poem “Laughter,” is for anyone who, in their twilight years, doesn’t want to be a bother to their children:

My mother called today

wants to pay for her funeral

in advance “so you boys don’t have

to worry about it.”

But I’m not sure how

one does that, who do you pay

after all she may live

another 15 years so I say

just write me a check you can trust me

$20,000 ought to cover it.

Been a long time

Since I’ve heard her laugh so hard.

Estabrook’s conciseness, clarity, and studied restraint is a good example of a poet picking up on how funny life can be. I’m certain there was a measure of serious-ness that prompted Michael’s mother to phone him with her heart’s concern; but it is poetry that elevates tender moments to the level of art.

This collection is sheer delight; bringing out the best in people and in life, illuminating the path of love and hope.

As a side note, Poems to Lift You Up and Make You Smile, is not a money-maker for the editor. A significant portion of sales revenue is earmarked for Parson’s Porch, a food, ministry program that provides bread and milk on a weekly basis for those in need. Sometimes a lift and a smile is all a person needs to make life worth living. Yes, yes indeed.



Photo: Maja Trochimczyk, A Garden Path with Roses