The year 2020 is filled with such momentous events, that we will be in an entirely different space by the time our readers hold this issue of the California Quarterly in their hands. Concerns with public health have been replaced by urgent calls for justice and the creation of a more equitable society. On such occasions, I like re-reading a Native-American book of wisdom, The Four Agreements and reflect on its tenets: “1. Be Impeccable with Your Word. 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. 3. Don’t Make Assumptions. 4. Always Do Your Best.” Strangely, when I try to recall these rules for good life to share with someone else, I keep forgetting one tenet or another, depending on what is not going well in my own life.
As President of the California State Poetry Society, I’m always doing my best to serve our cause of promoting poetry worldwide. I work to ensure the high quality of our publications and activities and the diversity of our team. Therefore, I am delighted that as of May 2020 our Board of Directors has two more Directors at Large, Ambika Talwar and Konrad Tademar Wilk, who will assist us in our various projects. They have joined the first Director at Large, Alice Pero, who now serves as Monthly Contest Chair.
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. Composed in the ecstatic tradition, her poetry is a “bridge to other worlds.” A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has authored several volumes of poetry and a poetic-spiritual travelogue, My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses (2016). Her work has appeared in Kyoto Journal; Inkwater Ink; Chopin with Cherries; Grateful Conversations; St. Julian Press; Tower Journal; Enchanting Verses; Quill & Parchment; California Quarterly; Life & Legends; Pratik; Aatish 2 and others. An English professor at Cypress College, California, Ambika makes her home in Los Angeles and in New Delhi, India.
An American poet living in Los Angeles, Konrad Tademar Wilk spent his childhood in Poland, where his maternal grandparents, Dr. Alicja Burakowska and Mr. Marian Burakowski, shared with him their patriotism, faith, and high moral standards. They had been honored as The Righteous of the Nations by the Yad Vashem Institute for saving 36 Jews during WWII. Following his return to the U.S., Konrad studied philosophy and literature at Los Angeles City College and later graduated from UCLA. 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. In 1991, he founded the Witching Hour Poetry Gathering which has met continuously for over 20 years.
We welcome our new colleagues; their insights and creativity will be an asset tor CSPS. At the same time, we say farewell to two distinguished, long-time Board Members and CQ Editors, Pearl Karrer (Editorial Chair) and Nancy Cavers Dougherty who resigned in April. Stephanie Pressman, graphic designer, has also left the organization. We thank the outgoing Board members for their years of dedicated service to the CSPS, working to make sure that the CQ only contains the highest-quality poems and that it is impeccably produced, with beautiful artistic covers.
Alice Pero completed selecting winners of Monthly Poetry Contests, November 2019 to May 2020. The full titles for all selected poems and the texts of poems awarded first prizes are posted on our Blog.
The Contest winners are as follows: November 2019 –. Winner: Jane Stuart, “October’s Wind Brings War;” with Jane Stuart and David Anderson in the second and third places. December 2019 – Winner: David Anderson, “Windstruck” with Kathy Lundy Derengowski and David Anderson. January 2020 –. Winner: Jane Stuart, “Our Winter Garden,” with Jane Stuart and David Anderson. February 2020 – Winner: Pamela Shea, “Rosebuds and Lovers,” with Jane Stuart in the second place. March 2020 – Winner. Dorothy Skies, “The Coyote’s Howl.” April 2020 – No Winners. May 2020 – Winner: Marlene Hitt, “Enlightenment.” Congratulations to all the winners and many thanks to Alice Pero!
We would like to see more submissions to the Monthly Contests that currently have only a few dedicated aficionados. Please consider participating in the contests and submit your poems, while using Submittable for the California Quarterly. Just one more step: CaliforniaStatePoetrySociety.org has all the details. Submissions can be made by mail to our P. O. Box, or via the website, with the contest reading fees enclosed: $1.50 per poem for members and $3 per poem for non-members.
The cover of the first issue of the California Quarterly in 2020, 46:1, edited by Margaret Saine, features artwork by an eminent Italian artist, Enzo Patti. This issue is a tribute to the diversity of world-wide poetic talent. Margaret received several comments written “to express thanks and gratitude” for this wonderful issue: “Thank you so much for choosing my poem ‘Mom & The Bridge’ for the latest issue of California Quarterly. What a pleasant surprise! I look forward to reading the whole thing.” (Kristin Lawrence). “I gave an audible gasp when I opened the mail to find my name in this amazing publication. I feel honored to be included with so much outstanding work… So thank you again and thank you for doing such great work!” (Clarke Andros). “What a delightful set of poems this issue is! and a great deal of variety of forms and word dexterity. And such a surprise for me, my poem ‘Not Mine to Shape’ among them.” (David Anderson). “Your work as translator cannot be esteemed too highly. Wonderful Italian and Spanish poems! You are a true femme de lettres!” ([Karl Greisinger).
Margaret Saine’s book is coming out in Spain: Respirando bajo el agua. Translated by Khedija Gadhoum. Madrid: Cuadernos del laberinto, 2020. Her work also appeared in Global Poetry, (“Today I Ate My Muse”), Subterranean Blue Poetry Journal (“Three Haiku Cycles about Winter” and an essay on “Classical Modern American Poetry: The Haiku”); and Setu (“Nymphomania”).
Grateful for the gifts of languages and words that enlighten the world, we wish everyone an inspired and transformative, poetic summer!