Thursday, April 29, 2021

CSPS Newsbriefs No. 1, 2021 - CSPS Annual Contest Entries Due by June 30, 2021

 NEWSBRIEFS 2021, NO. 1 (SPRING 2021)

This issue of the California Quarterly (vol. 47, no. 1) is filled with great poems selected by Bory Thach, our newest CQ Editor, from hundreds of poems submitted via Submittable and by mail. We appreciate Bory’s insight and taste! 

The cover of CQ 47:1 is a painting Harmony, by Sylvia Van Nooten, that was recommended by the former Editor, Margaret Saine. Van Nooten is an asemic artist living in western Colorado. Asemic art, with its pastiche of ‘language’ and images, allows her to merge texts and painting creating a hybrid form of communication which is open to interpretation. Her work has appeared in The South Florida Poetry Journal, Experiment-O Issue 13, The Raw Art Review, Spring 2021 and she has a painting on the cover of the summer 2021 edition of The Raw Art Review.

Monthly Contests – 2020 Winners. Alice Pero, the Monthly Contests Chair and Judge, selected the following poems as winners of our Monthly Contests. The prize-winning poems are posted on our blog, Congratulations to all!

January: 1. Jane Stuart - Our Winter Garden, 2. Jane Stuart - Early on a Winter Morning, 3. David Anderson - The Apple Spy; February: 1. Pamela Shea - Rosebuds and Lovers, 2. Jane Stuart - Dancing Into Love Again; 

March: Dorothy Skiles - The Coyote’s Howl; April: No award.

May: Marlene Hitt - Enlightenment; 

June: Joyce Futa – Kumquat Marmalade; 

July: Jackie Chou – Cerulean; 

August: Joan Gerstein – Self-Portrait as Clark Gable One Liner; 

September: Louise Moises – Empty Chairs; 

November: Charlene Langfur – Meandering; 

December: Ambika Talwar – Losses into Treasures.

To submit poems to contests, send them to Monthly Contest email, and pay fees via PayPal to 

CSPS Annual Contest 2021. 

The contest submission period is now open, from March 1st to June 30th, 2021. We are delighted that a distinguished poet and experienced editor, Georgia Jones-Davis, agreed to serve as CSPS Annual Contest Judge, while Joyce Snyder continues in her role as the Annual Contests Chair. The cash awards are $100, $50, and $25 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places respectively, plus publication in the CQ 47: 4 (2021 Winter). 

After 25 years as a journalist, Georgia Jones-Davis turned to poetry with publications in Westwind, Brevities, Nebo, Poets Against War, Ascent Aspirations & South Bank Poetry, London. She authored two chapbooks, Blue Poodle (2011) & Night School (2015) published by Finishing Line Press. A former board member of the Valley Contemporary Poets in Los Angeles, she was honored as a Newer Poet by the Los Angeles Public Library ALOUD series.  

Please upload poems and pay the contest reading fees via our website  


send a cover letter with all poet information and a list of the submitted poems, plus one copy of each poem with no poet identification to:

CSPS Annual Contest Chair: 

3371 Thomas Drive 

Palo Alto, California 94303

Reading fees: Members of California State Poetry Society and/or all member societies of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (please indicate which Society you are belong to), $3.00/poem; Non-members of any NFSPS-affiliated societies, $6.00/poem. You may also send fees for the contest to PayPal, to,

Requirements:  The length of poems should not exceed the limit of 80 lines (two-pages) per poem. Up to now, we did not have a limit on the numbers of poems submitted, but, please, do not send whole books!  For the California Quarterly, the limit is 6 poems, so we might keep it at that. 


Maura Harvey edited the California Quarterly 46:2 (Summer 2020) that elicited the following reader’s comment: “As I look over that Quarterly from last summer, I realize there is so much of nature in it, so many writers talking about living things outdoors, the seasons, the passage of time—as if we were especially aware of the natural world because we were so confined inside. I don't know if you were aware of that, if you intended that, but of course, poets should be more attentive and it seems this collection bears that out.” ~ Liz Dossa, Foster City, CA. In January 2021, Maura was a featured poet for the Monthly reading of the Village Poets of Sunland Tujunga, on Zoom. She sent the following comment from a listener: “Wonderful opportunity to stop and listen. To connect with poets around the state & get a glimpse into their diverse approaches. Enjoyed Maura’s use of local flora and fauna in her poetry and the ever present voz latina.” ~ Madeleine Wood, Fairfax, CA, High School Teacher of Spanish.

The California Quarterly 46:4 (Winter 2020)  that I edited, featured a painting by Julian Stanczak on the cover. Barbara Stanczak, the artist’s widow, commented: “I just received a copy of the California Quarterly. It is beautiful, sophisticated and so very elegant with Julian's Constant Return # II, 1965. It graces the clover and gives the edition beauty and the weight of quality. Thank you for sharing.” Poets were also pleased with the issue: “Honored to be with such great writers.” ~ Cindy Rinne. “I am happy, grateful and excited to be included in this wonderful issue of California Quarterly” ~ Stefano Bortolussi. “The poem “Aquamarine” is wonderful. It reads like a song. I love the cover too!” ~ David Rosenheim. “I loved reading the editor's note – I think you did a wonderful job on it!! I also love the cover. Admittedly, I was not familiar with Julian Stanczak, so thank you for introducing me; it will be something enjoyable to look into.” ~ Ivan Amaya Hobson. “The whole issue looks just wonderful. I am happy to be included.” ~ Karen McPherson.

California Quarterly Editors. We are now looking for new Editors to work with us on the CQ Editorial Board. If interested, send your bio to the President,

Membership Dues. Please note that individual dues for 2021 have been increased to $40. Other dues are listed on the following pages. CSPS membership includes four issues of the CQ, access to contests with lower fees, and access to the National Federation of State Poetry Society contests – their newsletter, Strophes, is found on the NFSPS website. 

Maja Trochimczyk 

Los Angeles, California

CSPS President

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

CSPS Monthly Contest Winners January - March 2021

California State Poetry Society is pleased to announce the winners of the Monthly Poetry Contests for the first quarter of 2021. Alice Pero, Monthly Contest Judge made the selections.


  • Dr. Emory D. Jones,  "Sanctuary" - 1st place
  • Marlene Hitt, "Summer of Fire" -   2nd place
  • David Anderson, "The Coming Snow" -  3rd place


Claire J. Baker, "Speculation" - 1st place


  • Julia Park Tracey - "Just One Thing - " 1st place





Bent grasses hint

at the passing of unseen winds and spirits.

Spires of black spruce, 

rise out of moss

and  point skyward, 

their broken branches 

draped with a haunting thin gauze

of lichens.

Poisonous red capped mushrooms stand 

like miniature tables and chairs­

fungus furniture 

that some secret night

might have hosted

the "little people"

so important in the folklore

of the native Ojibwa.

Something spiritual lives here, 

something dark something old.



Summer of Fire

... only a few clear days to see mountains

that summer of smoke.

It blew north to south, west to east

then due westward with a thick canopy

veiling the sky.

That one morning, dawn sun

rose red as blood yolk,

fiery as those flames

that devour  the ridges and ranges

licking them clear of chaparral.

That sun spread orange on the sheets

where we lay while orange flames

covered thickets and nests.


You have such a terrible craving

reducing cedar and pine to

blackened stumps, sumac to ash.

We pray for rain to bear you downhill

to melt the rage of you.

This morning in the orange light

air is pungent;

the smell of black brush,

the fear of live creatures.

After the night of fire

I do not fret over the smell of

last night's onions

nor do I light a bathroom candle,

but gaze out to yellow-grey,

watch the mountains disappear.


The Coming Snow

The lone buffalo grazes

ninety feet away 

from a single giant pine.

This landscape hangs


by the haze of a coming storm.

Coated with ice 

the buffalo

continues to bite

the short grass

we cannot see

under the shifting layer of slush.

Spare winter feed belies

the flourishing tree

which, like the buffalo,

stands alone

and catches the diamonds

of the oncoming snow.




        I learn by going where I have to go
                              ~ Theodore Roethke

My love & I are a blink
in time's polished mirror,
a tinkling of bells, 
a sprinkling of savvy
filled with drama, trauma
& triumph.

In the center of our story
we gather anise 
& rosemary for soup.
After reading The Waking,
we realize we read
each other easily.

we will love forever,
clinking glasses
surely makes it so,
& so for now
we gloriously come & go.



Just One Thing—

Between two trees, a pretty 

patch of light like sun on water, firelight on walls—

like rain against the window, where every gleam’s

a jewel—

Mica in concrete. Ice crystals. My

wedding band with a diamond for each child.

William Carlos Williams’ broken glass

and Lucy in the sky, all shining with that

unbearable beauty, the only thing

that keeps my two feet moving when I should otherwise 

collapse. A sparkle so bright it 

waters my eyes. A light so delicate and sharp

like the first breath on a January morning.

Strange that’s all it takes some days to endure.

So little. So much. 



California State Poetry Society encourages poetic creativity by organizing monthly contests. The contests are open to all poets, whether or not they are members of the CSPS. Reading fees are $1.50 per poem with a $3.00 minimum for members and $3.00 per poem with a $6.00 minimum for non-members. Entries must be postmarked during the month of the contest in which they are entered. They must consist of a first page with all contact information (name, address, telephone number and email address) and the titles of the poems being submitted. 

At this time there are two ways to submit, by regular mail (enclosing check) or by email (using PayPal and email to make a payment  - adding $1.00 for PayPal fees if submitting by email.

CSPS Monthly Contest – (Specify Month)
Post Office Box 4288, Sunland, California 91041

Alternatively, poets may submit their work by email to: (Specify Month) and simultaneously pay their contest fees by PayPal to:, adding $1 for PayPal fees.

All contests are judged by Alice Pero, CSPS Monthly Contest Judge. The 1st place winner receives half of the prize pool for pools less than $100. For pools of $100 or more, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners receive $50, $10 and $5, respectively. If there are insufficient fees submitted, the minimum prize is $10. There are no exceptions to the prize disbursement rules. The monthly contest winners are announced as they are awarded and the winners are notified by mail. All of the winners for the year are listed in the first CSPS Newsbriefs of the following year. In addition, the first prize winners are published in the CSPS Poetry Letter (PDF, email, posted on website) and posted on this blog. 

Please note: Do not send SAE’s. We do not return poems. If you win, we will let you know. Otherwise there are no notifications.

CSPS Monthly Contest Themes (Revised)

  • January    Nature, Seasons, Landscape
  • February  Love
  • March      Open, Free Subject
  • April        Mythology, Dreams, Other Universes
  • May         Personification, Characters, Portraits
  • June         The Supernatural
  • July          Childhood, Memoirs
  • August     Places, Poems of Location
  • Sept          Colors, Music, Dance
  • October    Humor, Satire
  • November Family, Friendship, Relationships
  • December  Best of Your Best (Winning or published poems only. Indicate name of contest or publication and the issue/dates of publication/award.)     

To find out more about our Contest Judge read ALICE PERO's Interview on ShoutoutLA website:

NOTE: Photos of Big Tujunga Wash and a Central California Orchard
 in bloom by Maja Trochimczyk