Wednesday, January 8, 2020

President's Newsbriefs 45:4, Winter 2019

The Newsbriefs No. 45:4 appeared in the California Quarterly vol. 45 No. 4, edited by Pearl Karrer and printed at the end of December 2019. Here is a reprint of this informational post for your convenience.


Trochimczyk, State Senator Anthony Portantino and Suzanne Lummis

As President of California State Poetry Society, I was delighted to present the Honorary Membership in the Society to the extra-ordinary poet Suzanne Lummis. The presentation took place at Bolton Hall Museum on October 27, 2019. The Village Poets of Sunland Tujunga hosted  the event that included also a featured reading by Ms. Lummis, presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation by State Senator Anthony Portantino, an open mike reading by local poets, and a reception. Sen. Portantino is a poet and a great friend of poetry; he came in person to our event because he owes a huge debt to Ms. Lummis, who encouraged him to read his own poetry at public literary events. We are all so grateful to Suzanne for all she does for poetry and for her insights and talent!

Lummis’ poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker. Her most recent collection, Open 24 Hours, won the Blue Poetry Prize (Lynx House Press, 2014). Previous full-length collections include In Danger (Round-house Press/Heyday Books) and Idiosyncrasies (Illuminati). Suzanne edited Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series, Beyond Baroque Books), noted in The Los Angeles Times as one of The Ten Best Books of 2015. She also was principal editor of the anthology, Grand Passion: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. 

  Ed Rosenthal, Suzanne Lummis and Trochimczyk with Rose and Peacock Bouquet, plus peacocks

 An influential teacher in Los Angeles, she leads private workshops and has taught for many years at UCLA. The director of The Los Angeles Poetry Festival, she has been associated with the following schools and poetic sensibilities: The Fresno School (students of Philip Levine); Stand-Up Poetry that aspires to combine the dynamism and bracing irreverence of performance poetry with the skill and attention to detail found in literary poetry (term by Charles Webb); The Poem Noir (named by Lummis herself), with dark themes, atmosphere, and voice of cool detachment that are inspired by the low budget black-and-white crime movies of the 40s and 50s; and, last but not least, Los Angeles Poetry.

In addition to the various certificates, congratulations were offered to Ms. Lummis by CSPS members who attended the ceremony: Kathabela Wilson, Pamela Shea, and Ed Rosenthal.


Trochimczyk, Lummis, Modiano at Beyond Baroque Gala

Congratulations to Richard Modiano, CSPS Vice President for Communications, for his Special Award from Beyond Baroque, for years of dedicated service as Executive Director of this amazing cultural institution. We are lucky to have Mr. Modiano join us at CSPS. During the 9th Annual Awards Dinner, held on November 10, 2019, awards were also presented to outstanding poets: Harryette Mullen, Diane Luby Lane, and Johanna Drucker.

While Havana prepared to celebrate the 500th anniversary of its founding, Maura Harvey made her third visit to the vibrant city. Once again, she spread the word about CSPS among poets and artists. Cuba supports the arts at a level unknown to us Americans. Poetry and literature in general, music, dance, and all visual arts are a part of daily life. Maura has been invited to participate in the International Poetry Festival of Havana.

Ed Rosenthal, whose “Coyote” appears in CQ 45:3, has published his memoirs inspired by his experience of being lost in the Mojave Desert and miraculously found after a 6-day ordeal. He previously published a book of poems based on this experience, The Desert Hat (Moonrise Press, 2013) named after the poet’s canvas hat on which he wrote farewell messages to his wife and daughter.

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

In this winter of 2019, we are celebrating holidays and the start of the New Year. It is a new start for CSPS as well: the votes have been counted, and poets voted to approve the slate of Officers for the next two years: Maja Trochimczyk (President), Richard Modiano (VP, Communications), Richard Deets (VP, Membership), John F. Harrell (Treasurer), Margaret Saine (Secretary/Historian).

Photo by Margaret Saine


We remind all members about the payment of dues. Annual renewal of memberships in the CSPS takes place each year in December for the following year. Membership runs January 1st to December 31st. If you join mid-year and we have them, you will receive the prior issues of CQ for the year.

You may renew membership through the website ( or by mail. If you have registered and signed in onto the website, you can see boxes at the right for paying for or renewing your membership. If you can't see any boxes, you are not signed in and may wish to pay by mail.

If you're paying by mail, click CSPS Membership Form to open a membership form in a new window and print it. Membership inquiries and payments by mail should be sent to: CSPS Treasurer, Dr. John Harrell, at 18732 Piper Place,Yorba Linda, CA 92886.

For 2020, they are still at the very low $35 per person for individual poets. You may pay the dues online, after registering on our website: Only after you register (lower right corner of the screen), will you be able to use the PayPal system to make your payment of dues. Please add $3-5 for PayPal fees, so your total will be $38 for  individual members located in the U.S. and the following totals:

Membership Categories: 
  • Domestic Individual $35 per year ($38 online)
  • Domestic Family $39 per year (four members max; $42 online) 
  • Domestic Institution/Library $39 per year (no contest entry rights) 
  • International Individual $51 per year (56 online)
  • International Family $55 per year (four members max, $60 online) 
  • International Institution/Library $55 per year (no contest entry rights) 
Be sure to submit the names of those included in a family membership so they have contest entry rights with the CSPS and the NFSPS. Library memberships receive the publications listed above, but carry no contest entry rights with them.

Please consider supporting our activities with donations. All Board Members and Editors of the California Quarterly work as volunteers and make personal contributions to support the CSPS.

Donor and Patron Categories 

  • Donor ~ Membership + $5, $10, $15, or $20 
  • Patron ~ Membership + $25, $50 or $75 
  • Silver Circle Patron ~ Membership + $100 
  • Gold Circle Patron ~ Membership + $200

Benefits of CSPS Membership as of 2019 
  • Quarterly receipt of the California Quarterly, which includes the quarterly Newsbriefs in the pages at the back of the issue. The CSPS Poetry Letter and the Strophes newsletter of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS), previously available in print format, now may be read online under the Newsbriefs tab on the website, or on the national website,, respectively.
  • Reduced reading fees for the CSPS monthly contests ($1.50 per poem vice $3.00 per poem - two poems minimum).
  •  Entry rights to all NFSPS national poetry contests.
  •  A link from the CSPS Links page to his or her personal website (if any) 

Grateful for 2019, we are looking forward to writing & promoting poetry in 2020.
Happy New Year!

~ Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D.
   President, CSPS 

Trochimczyk at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, January 5, 2020

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Annual Contest Winner 2019 and Monthly Contest Winners, Aug, Sept, Oct 2019

California Coast by Maja Trochimczyk


The winners and prize winning poems from the 33rd Annual Poetry Contest, selected by Lisa Rosenberg are published in the California Quarterly 45:4, edited by Pearl Karrer.

1st Place: “Stone, She” by R. J. Keeler, Vashon, WA
2nd Place: “Skull of Moon, Fist of Stars” by Claire Scott, Oakland, CA
3rd Place: “For the Young Man Unimpressed with the Sky” by Kathleen McClung, San Francisco, CA

Honorable Mentions
“A Lamp on the Polished Table” by Katharyn Howd Machan, Ithaca, NY
“Mighty Eucalypti” by Selma Calnan, Anaconda, MT
“Fire for Fire” by Ed McManis, Larkspur, CA
“Too Much of Nothing” by Neal Zirn, Denver, CO
“Inside the Chicken Shed” by David Anderson, Lincoln, CA

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                              ABOUT THE CONTEST JUDGE, LISA ROSENBERG

Poet and recovering engineer Lisa Rosenberg served as this year’s judge. She holds degrees in physics and creative writing, and worked for many years in the space program. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, she served as the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California. Her debut collection, A Different Physics, received the 2017 Red Mountain Poetry Prize. Lisa speaks, consults, and instructs, bringing polymathic tools to industry, research, and education. She was recently awarded a 2020 Djerassi Residency for Scientist and Artists. 

California Fields by Maja Trochimczyk


Judging is much like the process of writing: guided by our current understanding of the art, we encounter challenges to our habits and preferences. I am humbled by lessons revealed in this body of work: poems that carry wisdom, curiosity, courage, and inventiveness.

First Place: “Stone, She” Rhythmic, lyric, and intriguing, this brief poem builds a multi-faceted mood: reflective, declarative, and unresolved. A single word, the rhetorical “well” in line 3, provides a tonal anchor to keep what follows within the realm of the self-reflective and confessional. Spare stanzas move with agility through sensory images and existential suggestions, creating a diffuse portrait of the spoken-of and the speaker’s relationship to her. Concrete details hold their weight, so that the grammatical oddities add to our enjoyment and curiosity. Navigated with conviction in tone, and satisfying use of repeated structures.

Second Place: “Skull of Moon, Fist of Stars” This poem shows how the physical workings of poetry can sustain and deliver complex themes with immediacy. The poet uses sound patterns and figurative devices that engage us without pause: wordplay, “this was the known I knew”; repetition in phrasing, symbols, and structure; rhythmic power, “sun-baked snake”; measured assonance and alliteration; and unexpected (very wellplaced) metaphor. The way in which these are woven brings emotional urgency into the reader’s experience. The near-ultimate lines, which the title foreshadows, exemplify one of the metaphorical shifts. The speaker backs an “ancient Studebaker” down a driveway, straight into a description of self “wearing the shape of wind / the steady of stars.”

Third Place: “For the Young Man Unimpressed with the Sky” The sharp contrast between the villanelle form, popular in the 19th century, and this modern-day setting heightens the contrast between teen and adult perceptions in the social exchange recounted. Philosophical musings and blasé observations weave through and past each other in an anecdotal mode, held together by the form (employed with slight variations). The strict requirements of the villanelle feel countered, even confronted, by the speaker’s diction. The form also supports casting the entire encounter within the brief, repeated time frame of a few moments.

Hermosa Beach by Maja Trochimczyk



Crush, she— 
Crushed by blossoms;  
As many as, well,  
Since flowers appeared.

Fuse, she— 
Fused since time, 
Long past believing 
And given to me.

Grind, she— 
Ground like wheat,  
By glaciers, forests,  
As many as grain.

Press, she— 
Pressed by breezes,  
Soft, cold,  
As married as air. Stone, she.

                ~ R. J. Keeler 
                  Vashon, Washington

Star of Stones by Maja Trochimczyk



I knew if I stayed I would die 
you can’t live nourished on nothing 
my mother: made of malice + bitter marrow 
silent as a sun-baked snake 
one eye glistening 
my mother: manic + mercurial 
knife flailing 
scotch flowing
shredded wheat for supper 
my mother: a vulture winging + waiting 
to pick my bones clean 
this was the known I knew 
remnants + rinds 
of an almost life 
tethered to a mother who one day 
would care, if only I— 
if only—

I knew if I stayed I would die 
for years I chose death 
living at the end of a rope 
a boot heel on my face 
until I finally got it
             —my rope 
             —my boot 
& backed down the driveway 
in my ancient Studebaker 
wearing the shape of wind 
the steady of stars 
the solace of a crescent moon

            ~ Claire Scott 
              Oakland, California

Path of Light by Maja Trochimczyk



“It’s just the moon,” he shrugs, blasé, this teen. 
His mother, stirred, like me, does not agree. 
We strangers gaze, transfixed. The light turns green

as we step off the curb and walk between 
these yellow lines. Familiar mystery: 
it’s just the moon, of course, but full. We’ve seen

its sliver in the sky, known its routine 
each month—a moving toward immensity. 
We strangers gaze, in awe. The light turns green.

Sixth Avenue seems safe to cross—if screens 
are off in every car. No guarantee. 
It’s just the moon, just solstice. No machine

that waits for us to cross can ever mean 
what full moon in a winter sky does: constancy. 
We strangers gaze, grateful for light, for green,

for seasons, cycles, wheels that spin unseen 
far longer than our brief mortality. 
It’s just the moon. You’re right. You’re seventeen. 
We strangers praise it, though. The light turns green.

                   ~ Kathleen McClung 
                      San Francisco, California

Bronze and Azure by Maja Trochimczyk


CSPS Vice President for Communications, Richard Modiano, selected the following poems as winning the Monthly Poetry Contests in August, September and October 2019. Congratulations to all the winners!


1st place: "Picturesque Moment" Jane Stuart, Greenup KY

2nd place: "After the Storm" Mary Jo West, San Clements CA

3rd place: Two-Year-Old-Bronco Von S. Bourland,  Happy TX


1st place: "Victory Dance 1945" Nick Sweet, Shepard TX

2nd place: "Perseverance" Mary Jo West, San Clemente CA

3rd place: "Alifair" Jerry Douglas Smith,San Luis Obispo CA


1st place: "War Memorial" Von S. Burland.Happy TX

2nd place: "Calm after the Storms" Von S. Bourland, Happy TX

3rd place: "The Poet Elopes With the Philosopher's Daughter Louis Aboulafia, Stockston CA

The First Prize Winning Poems receive a small cash prize and the poem is posted on this blog, as well as announced on our website.

Not so Liquid, Not so Amber by Maja Trochimczyk

AUGUST THEME: Humor, Satire, Joy of Life

Picturesque Moment

Golden    fireflies
blinking    lanters
full of starlight

Misty shadows
moonlit rivers a 
flying owl
and mountains rising in
a turning globe

Starry silence
then the moon 
drops lower

Gold and Blue by Maja Trochimczyk


Victory Dance, 1945

On that night in San Diego
When he danced with Betty Grable 
And with all his G. I. buddies
Was invited to her table

At first his foxtrot faltered 
On legs a bit unstable
By chorus he regained it 
They floated smooth and able

He danced as if before the war 
Before the occupation
Before the barefoot orphans  
Waded through the devastation

Before he followed orders 
That nullified sensation
And left him drained and broken 
No glimpse of restoration

While holding Betty closely  
He whispered, so he claims, 
"You just have to call me if  
You split with Harry James,"

He never really said it 
Wasn ' t glib with dames 
But this amended memory 
Helped erase the flames

Of many burning villages 
Ragged refugees
Vacant stares of conquered men 
Sobbing mothers' pleas

But he knew while guiding Betty  
With elegance and ease
Some distant day he'd care again 
His haunted heart appeased

Garden Sunset by Maja Trochimczyk

OCTOBER THEME: War & Peace, Activism & Politics

  War Memorial

Traffic whizzed by as we strolled around
the War Memorial outside the Visitor's Center 
in Trinidad, Colorado.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War 
and more recent conflicts: Iraq and Afghanistan 
marble structures thrusting upward
paying homage to scripted names.

As I stood in front of the Vietnam monolith 
a chill embraced me at the sight:
a miniature version of The Wall - USA featuring a father 
holding his daughter - pointing to names on the list.

In awe of the miniaturization depicting so many men 
and women fallen on the battlefields
the skill of the artist remained dominant.

Later, I thought of those tiny scrolled names 
and how minimal our tribute must have appeared 
as the survivors returned home - how blame seemed placed 
on those who fulfilled what they saw as duty.

Shame overwhelmed beauty.

Ginkgo and Sycamore by Maja Trochimczyk



Elected Executive Director of Beyond Baroque in 2010, Modiano is a writer, curator, and editor. In 2007 he produced Beyond Baroque’s “On the Road” 50th Anniversary Production and in 2009 he produced the marathon reading and panel discussion of “William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch at 50.” He was on Board of Directors for Valley Contemporary Poets from 1997-2005 and served as Board President in 2004-2005. His poems have been published in Blue Satellite, Big Scream, Maintenant, Mas Tequila Review, Malpais Review, the Los Angeles Cultural Weekly, and he is a contributor to The Bukowski Anthology. Modiano has been elected unanimously by e-mail vote  in May 2019 and we are very pleased to gain his expertise and experience to help CSPS spread its wings. He will also serve as the Chair of Monthly Poetry Contests. He is Director Emeritus of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, CA.