Thursday, February 19, 2015

Maja Trochimczyk Presents "Slicing the Bread" on February 22, 2015

The Village Poets Monthly Reading on Sunday, February 22, will have a new Featured Poet since B. D. Love will not be able to present his work. He will be replaced by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, reading from her new poetry book, "Slicing the Bread," (Finishing Line Press, 2014).  The reading will start at 4:30 p.m. and will include two segments of Open Mike as well as refreshments.

When: Sunday, February 22nd, at 4:30 p.m.
What: Village Poets Monthly Reading.
Where: Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042.


ISBN-10: 1622296877 ISBN-13: 978-1622296873. Available on Amazon, Finishing Line Press, etc.
Published by Finishing Line Press (December 2014)


This unique poetry collection revisits the dark days of World War II and the post-war occupation of Poland by the Soviet Union that “liberated” the country from one foreign oppression to replace it with another. The point of view is that of children, raised by survivors, scarred by war, wary of politics. Children experienced the hunger and cold, witnessed the killings, saw the darkening blood spilled on the snow and hands stretching from locked boxcar windows. Some heardthe voices of murdered Jews like “bees in the breeze,” others learned never to throw any food away, because “war is hunger.” The poems, each inspired by a single object giving rise to memories like Proust’s madeleine (a spoon, a coat, the smell of incense), are divided into three sections, starting with snapshots of World War II in the Polish Borderlands (Kresy) and in central Poland. Reflections onthe Germans’ brutalkillings of Jews and Poles are followed by insights into the way the long shadow of THE war darkened a childhood spent behind the Iron Curtain. For poet Georgia Jones Davis, this book, “brings the experience of war into shocking, immediate focus” through Trochimczyk’s use of “her weapon: Language at its most precise and lyrical, understated and piercingly visual.”

According to Pulitzer-Prize nominated poet John Guzlowski, Maja’s “poems about what the Poles suffered both during World War II and The Cold War afterwards are written with the clarity of truth and the fullness of poetry… Here are the stories of how the people she loved experienced hunger and suffering and terror so strong that it defined them and taught her, and teach us, the meaning of family.” A fellow Polish-American poet, Linda Nemec Foster praises the “unwavering honesty” and “stark imagery” of Trochimczyk’s poetry that “bear witness to the hate that destroys, to the truth that restores, and to the poetic vision that honors our common humanity.” The Tieferet Prize winner and Poets-CafĂ© host Lois P. Jones points out the “vivid and heartbreaking detail” of poems that “will move you to appreciate the simple privileges and necessities of life.” As Jones wisely observes “It is the duty of the poet to convey story, but it is the art of the poet who can transform our often cruel and brutal history and affect forever, the way we look and listen to the world.” Poet Sharon Chmielarz concurs: “You will remember the taste of this book.”


Slicing the Bread

Her mother’s hunger. One huge pot of hot water
with some chopped weeds –komesa, lebioda
she taught her to recognize their leaves,
just in case – plus a spoonful of flour
for flavor. Lunch for twenty people
crammed into a two-bedroom house.

The spring was the worst–flowers, birdsong,
and nothing to eat.  You had to wait
for the rye and potatoes to grow. The pantry
was empty. She was hungry. Always hungry.
She ate raw wheat sometimes. Too green,
The kernels she chewed –still milky –made her sick.

Thirty years after the war,
her mother stashed paper bags with sliced, dried bread
on top shelves in her Warsaw kitchen.
Twenty, thirty bags… enough food for a month.
Don’t ever throw any bread away, her mother said.
Remember, war is hunger.

Every week, her mother ate dziad soup –
fit for a beggar, made with crumbled wheat buns,
stale sourdough loaves, pieces of dark rye
soaked in hot tea with honey.
She liked it. She wanted to remember
its taste.

What to Carry

You never know when the war will come,
her mother said. You have to be ready.
Most things are unimportant.
You must take your gold, your family jewels.
Diamonds will buy you food. 
Gold will save your life. Forget silver, too heavy.
Take sturdy boots with two pairs of socks,
a warm, goose-down comforter on your back,
one picture, no books. Leave it all.
You will have to walk, sleep in a ditch, walk.
Pack lightly. What you carry, will protect you.
From starving, from freezing. That’s what matters.
Goose-down and gold. Hunger and snow.

She still has her goose-down coverlet,
useless in California. Her mother squished it
into a suitcase the first time she came to visit.
The down came from geese plucked decades ago
In Bielewicze, by her Grandma, Nina.
Diamonds? She sold her rings
to pay for the divorce, keep the house
with pomegranates and orange trees.
Her shoes are useless too –
a rainbow of high heels in the closet.