Monday, June 22, 2020

Winners of CSPS Monthly Contests, November 2019 to May 2020

Alice Pero, the new Chair of Monthly Contests has selected the following poems for recognition as winners of the California State Poetry Society's Contests in the past six months.

November 2019
1. Jane Stuart - "October’s Wind Brings War"
2. Jane Stuart - "When All Was Mystery"
3. David Anderson - "The Moving Spray Rig"

December 2019
1. David Anderson - "Windstruck"
2. Kathy Lundy Derengowski - "A Marriage of Poets"
3. David Anderson - "When Cezanne Painted Mont Sainte Victoire"

January 2020
1. Jane Stuart - "Our Winter Garden"
2. Jane Stuart - "Early on a Winter Morning"
3. David Anderson - "The Apple Spy"

February 2020
1. Pamela Shea - "Rosebuds and Lovers"
2. Jane Stuart - "Dancing Into Love Again"

March 2020
1. Dorothy Skies - "The Coyote’s Howl"

April 2020
No Winners

May 2020
1. Marlene Hitt - "Enlightenment"

Congratulations to all the winners! Well done! 

The First Prize Poems are reproduced below.

November 2019 Winner:
Jane Stuart's "October's Wind Brings War"

October's Wind Brings War

Autumn's sun is hot, as red as a persimmon leaf on a dying tree. It warms the sand
but cools the sea and hard rain blows away our treasures, all the dreams and pretty
things we left behind-but life is cold. The street is mud, your eyes are blistered
diamonds and every book we read .. blew away. Who are we then? If not tired rocks
and broken branches, summer's end rekindled for an hour and then gone-gone
away to sleep like children in a fern patch on a hidden hill. You remind me of an
aging Venus stepping from her shell and I am Vergil dancing star-to-star,
climbing higher, farther from the fire that lingers in Vesuvius's hole.

A swag of evergreen
tied to every door
a sign that signals
the moon sighs
and lonely houses weep

When everything
is gone, gone
and lightning strikes
another cold fire
but the Phoenix sleeps

leaves nothing
time is fatal--
your jeans are torn

my dress is old

December 2019 Winner:
David Anderson's "Windstruck"


In the spring winds, you carried the freshly washed clothes
out to hang dry on clotheslines. You hung shirts by their tails
and let the sleeves dangle. You hung pants upside down,
shook the fabric, pulled the pockets out and let any coins fall free

for us to find. Sheets you hung by center-lines and the folds
swung open and closed in the flapping breeze. One by one,
out of the basket, you hung towels, corner after corner,
a varicolored string of rectangles, and shorts, handkerchiefs, socks—

You walked one line to the end and returned on the next, measuring
out briefs and lingerie against the breeze, still cold from winter.

We ran between the sheets and towels and let the yet wet
cloth slap our faces and the sunstruck sheets blind us.

How could we not praise the winds that sucked our laundry dry
and left behind sheets and clothing stiff with sky?

"Windstruck." Originally published in Time of Singing. 2015 Spring; 41(1). First Place, July 2014 CSPS Contest. It also appears on Anderson's personal website and was emailed in his Poetry Letter, no.2, June 2015 and no.8, Dec 2015.

January 2020 Winner:
Jane Stuart's "In a Winter Garden"

Our Winter Garden 

Our winter garden greens under dark snow
that fell upon the terrace in our sleep--
the moon's shadows glisten and glow,
the wind makes footprints that are deep
beside the garden wall that is so tall
it almost reaches the winter sky--
and now, the lightest morning snowflakes fall
from greyest clouds stuck to the sky.
Snow falls where flowers bloomed and young trees grew
up, up, to blossom on a summer day.
The garden was a green place where birds flew
 in flocks to find their nests; time blew away
 these months then winter raindrops fell with snow
over dark earth under the full moon's glow.

February 2020 Winner:
Pamela Shea's "Rosebuds and Lovers"

Rosebuds and Lovers

The bud of a rose,
Layer on layer of petals,
Held tightly, perfectly,
Unfolding when the time has come,
Bursts open and a flower is born,
Releasing sweet perfume.

The heart of a lover,
Layer on layer of emotions,
Trembling, hidden, waiting,
When touched by the beloved,
Bursts open and a poem is born;
Sweet music fills the air.

March 2020 Winner: 
Dorothy Skiles's "The Coyote's Howl"

The Coyote’s Howl

January’s draught
portent of a scorching
summer to come…

The San Gabriel Mountains
and Verdugo Woodland’s
are but a tinder box-
terrain covered with
chaparral, a dry dense
stubborn thicket -
fuel for wildfires.
On summer nights beneath
the full moon’s light, coyote’s
coat the color of nickel.
Her features gaunt, gait less
confident, yet her sense
of smell remains keen.

From dusk to dawn
she traverses the ridges,
the low-lying hillsides
hunting rodents and rabbits.
She often treks into
neighborhoods, climbing
fences as swift as a thief.
The coyote is not too proud
 to forage for plums,
berries or pears.

This fall as the Santa Ana
winds rage, I’ll listen
for the coyote’s howl,
wondering if she’ll
make it through
the threat of famine,
the peril of wildfires,

sure, to come!

May 2020 Winner:
Marlene Hitt's "Enlightenment"

A dust devil blew in
from my childhood.
Dead leaves whirled up
from summer’s hot soil
while a jay feather flew birdless
swirling into midsummer sky
up to the puffs of white cloud
as on the day when I was ten,
when I ran into the vortex
trying to find a secret
in the center of the whirlwind
only to rush away
with sand in my eye.
Why does that thrill return
as the wind whirls in?
And why, now, do I run away?

Alice Pero, the judge of the Monthly Poetry Contests, joined the CSPS Board as a Director at Large  in May 2019. She has published poetry in many magazines and anthologies, including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, and G.W. Review, and others. Her book of poetry, Thawed Stars, was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.” She also published a chapbook Sunland Park Poems, written as a dialogue with Elsa Frausto.

Pero teaches poetry and is a member of California Poets in the Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering students to express their uniqueness through writing, performing and publishing their own poetry. She is also the founder of Moonday, a reading series that has been on-going in the Los Angeles area for upwards of sixteen years. Ms Pero has created dialogue poems with more than twenty poets. She also created the performing group, Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble and performs with them as a flutist.

Nature photos from Big Tujunga Wash and Southern California gardens
by Maja Trochimczyk

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Welcome to New Board Members, Ambika Talwar and Konrad Tademar Wilk

On May 2, 2020, the Board of Directors of the California State Poetry Society voted to approve the addition of two new Directors at Large to our team, poets Ambika Talwar and Konrad Tademar Wilk. We welcome our new colleagues; their insights and creativity will be an asset for CSPS.

At the same time, the Board acknowledged receiving resignations from long-time Board Members and Editors of the California Quarterly, Pearl Karrer who served as Editor and Editorial Chair, and Nancy Cavers Dougherty who was one of the Editors. We thank the outgoing Board members for their years of dedicated service to the CSPS, working as Editors to make sure the California Quarterly contains only high quality poems and that it is produced without errors. We wish you all possible success in your future poetry endeavors.


Ambika Talwar is an India-born author, wellness consultant, artist, & educator whose vision is to realize her sacred destiny and invite others to find their brilliance.  Insights gleaned through life challenges have prompted her to make her poetry a call to action. Composed in the ecstatic tradition, her poetry is a “bridge to other worlds.” She has authored Creative Resonance: Poetry—Elegant Play, Elegant Change and also 4 Stars & 25 Roses (poems for her father).  She is published in various journals and anthologies including Kyoto Journal, Inkwater Ink - vol. 3; Chopin with Cherries; Meditations On Divine Names; VIA-Vision in Action; in Poets on Site collections; St. Julian Press; Tower Journal; Enchanting Verses; Quill & Parchment; California Quarterly; Life & Legends, and others. She has also interviewed with KPFK and Human Frequency Radio, and recorded poems for the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California.

Ambika's works also appear in Grateful Conversations (2018), a collection of poems, photos and essays by Westside Women Writers based in Southern California. Her poem Sweet Fire Dance of Dissent (for Rilke's Spanish Dancer) was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the editors. In 2018, she was one of 10 to earn Commendable Mention in The Great India Poetry Contest spearheaded by On Fire Cultural Movement, and, has since been a judge for their weekly poetry contest in 2019.

In 2016, Ambika published My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses about her travels through Greece in 2002. It is a poetic-spiritual travelogue that seeks to discover our collective human purpose. She asserts it is time for creatives to offer a new narrative to change our worldview, which has led to destructive ways to one that arises harmony.  A grateful and willing performer, she has read at various venues in Southern California and also at the Eden Hall, Chatham University, Pittsburgh. Ambika also made a short film titled Androgyne in 2000 for which she earned the Best Original Story Award at a festival in Belgium. She wrote, produced, and directed this film. She has also written two original feature-length screenplays.

Also a wellness, practitioner, Ambika practices IE:Intuition-Energetics™, a powerful fusion of modalities and creativity principles for speedy recovery from ailments and practice being whole again. “Both poetry and holistic practices work beautifully together, for language is intricately coded in us. And we must be free of false beliefs and confusions,” she notes.  This process achieves speedy and efficient results. An English professor at Cypress College, California, Ambika makes her home in Los Angeles and in New Delhi, India.

Sites: *
Human Frequency Radio:
Poetry Offerings:  


Konrad Tademar Wilk is an American poet living in Los Angeles. His works range from single sonnets to epic poems on themes including current events, myth, and philosophy. In addition to American subjects, his work is strongly informed by international events and history, especially those of freedom and oppression. Tademar's early childhood was spent in Poland where he was particularly influenced by the rise of the anti-communist Solidarity labor union.

Following his return to the U.S., he studied philosophy and literature at Los Angeles City College where he was president of the Poet's Platform. He then went on to graduate from UCLA. His poetry book Fifty Sonnets, titles like labels only get in the way... is available for purchase on-line.  Other poetry chapbooks are out of print. He is currently working on two epic poems "Prometheus" and "Trafficking In Time" - scheduled for release in the near future. He has appeared in Los Angeles venues such as the Onyx, Ground's Zero, Magicopolis Theater, Wilshire Art Gallery, Bolton Hall Museum, and Pig and Whistle. In 1991, he founded the Witching Hour Poetry Gathering which has met continuously for over 20 years. 

Additionally, he is a founding member of the Pecan Pie Organization, dedicated to artistic promotion and stage performances.  Mr. Tademar recently served as the artistic director for Warsaw 80/75 performance of poetry, dance and music, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII (German attack on Poland), and the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.  The event was held at the Santa Monica Playhouse in September 2019.

 Some of his stories and poems are available on the internet. - 138 poems posted since 2010