Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dorothy Skiles & Marlene Hitt, Saturday, 22 July 2017, Montrose - and Parade Photos with Pam

Due to an exhibition being held at Bolton Hall Museum, Village Poets' July meeting has been moved to nearby Montrose where the Library will present Dorothy Skiles and Marlene Hitt, in a double feature of Village Poets. The flyer for the event was produced by the Montrose Library, located at 2465 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose where the Village Poets reading will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.  Two segments of open mike will also be available for those who wish to read their poems. See you all there!

Over the last eighteen years, Dorothy has been involved in the local poetry scene and her poems have appeared in a variety of community publications. She served as Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga from 2012 to 2014 and since 2010, has been a member of the Village Poets of Sunland-TujungaPlanning Group who sponsor a well-established Monthly Poetry Series in the foothills.

Her chapbooks include:The Sidewalk Gallery (1979), Ear to Earth (1996), Spine Flower Blues (1999) - a collaborative work by the Chuparosa Writers, and Riddle in the Rain (2003) –a collaborative work with Marlene Hitt.

Dorothy Skiles and Joe DeCenzo at the Parade 2014

Dorothy’s poems appear in Meditation on Divine Names, edited by Maja Trochimczyk, Moonrise Press 2012, and From Benicia With Love, Edited by Don Peery, Accent Digital Publishing, Redding CA 2013. In July 2015, she was featured in Colorado in Pasadena, Mapping the Artist - Dorothy Skiles by Kathabela Wilson.Her poems also appear in the Altadena Poetry Review - Anthology 2016, edited by Thelma T. Reyna, Golden Foothill Press,2016. Most recently, her poems were published in the Altadena Poetry Review -  Anthology 2017, edited by Elline Lipkin and Pauli Dutton, Altadena Library District, 2017.

Marlene and Lloyd Hitt, Grand Marshalls of the Independence Day Parade, 2017.

Marlene Hitt is a Los Angeles poet, writer and retired educator with local history as an avocation. She has served for many years as Archivist, Museum Director and Historian at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. She is a native Californian and a graduate of Occidental College. She also studied at CSUN, USC, UCLA, Glendale College and Trinity College in Ireland. As a member of the Chupa Rosa Writers of Sunland for nearly 30 years, she has worked with this small group of poets from whom has sprung readings at the local library, the Poet Laureate Program of Sunland-Tujunga, and the currently popular Village Poets. Her poetry received several first place prizes in annual competitions of the Women’s Club, San Fernando Valley, and many awards from the John Steven McGroarty Chapter of the California Chaparral Poets. Congressman Adam Schiff declared Marlene Hitt to be the Woman of the Year 2016 and her name was entered into the Congressional Record.

Her work appeared in Psychopoetica (UK), Chupa Rosa Diaries of the Chupa Rosa Writers, Sunland (2001-2003), Glendale College’s Eclipse anthologies, two Moonrise Press anthologies, Chopin With Cherries (2010) and Meditations on Divine Names (2012),Sometimes in the Open, a collection of verse by California Poets Laureate, and The Coiled Serpent, anthology of Los Angeles poets, edited by Poet Laureate, Luis Rodriguez (2016). She published chapbooks Sad with Cinnamon, Mint Leaves, and Bent Grass (all in 2001), as well as Riddle in the Rain with Dorothy Skiles, a stack of poetry booklets for friends and family, and most recently a critically acclaimed poetry volume, Clocks and Water Drops (Moonrise Press, 2015). 

More information: 


Please, come home.
Walk into the door of the kitchen
where stew and wheaten bread
steam, where a fire warms.
Your father will tune the strings,
unwrap the bohdran.
I will uncover the harp.
The stew will simmer.
With hands wiped on my apron
I will open my arms
to you, my firstborn child
so long traveling. Your sisters 
will dance. The old ones will smile
through brown, gapped teeth,
will smile blue into your eyes.
Wrapped around you, the old songs,
the scent of turf fire, the smell
of our own wool and you will sing.
While you sleep
I will wrap around you a woven shawl
to shield you. Please come home
to bleating lambs,
to the resting place of love.

Marlene Hitt, published in Clocks and Water Drops (2015)  


That old threadbare word – love
flows in a fabric patterned
with shades of crimson colors,
whispers of mauve and the yellow of dry sun.
Chopin wove love into the air,
Monet stroked it onto canvas.

That word so often patched
nearly falls apart, its meaning frayed –
until a newborn cries 
or a daughter becomes a bride,
until the lace of fifty years together
fully knits. Love unravels
until a friend perceives and cherishes,
until there is an ear ready to listen, 
a shoulder to cry on. Love is repaired
with the consecration of all the threads.

Then, there is delight in love’s stitching,
the worn word renewed
into the One Love.

Marlene Hitt, published in Clocks and Water Drops, 2015


Marlene  and Lloyd Hitt were Grand Marshalls. Photo by Bill Skiles.

Pam Shea, Poet Laureate was the Star!

The Poets had a banner, carried by Spiderman and Auntie Sam.

The team is getting ready, minus the photographer and driver.

The hood was covered in stars, stripes and flowers.

Everyone wore their stars and stripes...

The Poet Laureate dressed up as Betsy Ross.

Joe DeCenzo was the driver and had lots of fun! 

The car of poets drove on...

Having fun in the sun! With stars all over (Maja)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Independence Day Parade and July 22 with Marlene Hitt and Dorothy Skiles in Montrose

The Parade in 2011, Photo by Susan Rogers

The Village Poets Convertible will carry Pam Shea, Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga for 2017-2018 this year, in the Sunland-Tujunga Fourth of July Parade on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, starting at 10 a.m. The Annual Independence Day Parade takes place on Foothill Blvd, down from Mt. Gleason St. to the Sunland Park. Many representatives of government and community organizations participate, including the Little Landers Historical Society, the Verdugo Hills High School and other local schools, firemen, police, bikers' clubs, and more. Village Poets have had a regular presence since 2010 and below you can see some photos. In celebration, let us read some poems, suitable for the occasion.

Photo by Pam Shea


by Pamela Shea

Today I performed a most humbling act
I repaired my home flag, dear Old Glory
I stitched frayed seams with reverential care
While it whispered to me its story

It took me to places where it had been
To battlefields, parades, and many graves
It took me to places of the deepest sorrow
Also to sunny, celebratory days

I envisioned faces of many heroes
Of all colors, races, ages, and creeds
We journeyed to mountaintops and valleys
Commemorating countless courageous deeds

Frayed seams reminded me of frayed families
I thought of all soldiers, alive, dead, or maimed
Thoughts of generations flooded my mind
So many lives for freedom forever changed

I finished my sewing with thankfulness
Completing this sacred task with a prayer
My heart was warmed by appreciation
As I proudly posted the colors with care

(c) 2015 by Pam Shea

Dorothy Skiles with Joe Decenzo at the Parade


by Dorothy Skiles

The Fourth of July’s
Night skies are alight with stars
In celebration

Of our nation’s birth.!
Red, white, blues of many hues
Dance before our eyes.

Children frolic about,
Lovers snuggle on the lawn
All want to stay ‘till dawn!

(c) 2012 by Dorothy Skiles

Joe DeCenzo drives the parade car, 2014

Maja Trochimczyk with daughter Ania, at the Parade, 2010

Joe DeCenzo drumming at the Parade, 2015

Dorothy Skiles, Maja Trochimczyk, Marlene Hitt at the Parade, 2013

Village Poets at the Parade, 2014

Village Poets at the Parade, 2015


Due to an exhibition being held at Bolton Hall Museum, Village Poets' July meeting has been moved to nearby Montrose where the Library will present Dorothy Skiles and Marlene Hitt, in a double feature of Village Poets. Below is the flyer for the event produced by the Montrose Library, located at 2465 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose. The reading will start at 3 p.m. See you there!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Poet Judith Terzi and Artist Monique Lehman Speak on June 25, 2017

Village Poets are pleased to present poet Judith Terzi reading from her newest book, and tapestry artist Monique Chmielewski Lehman discussing her aesthetics, craft and artworks, on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. The Village Poets Monthly Readings are held at Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. The readings include also two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013.  The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society.


Judith Terzi's poems have appeared in an array of literary journals including Caesura, Columbia Journal, Raintown Review, Spillway, and Unsplendid, as well as in anthologies such as Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and Net, and included in Keynotes, a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey. She taught French at Polytechnic School in Pasadena for over twenty years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria. Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By are recent chapbooks from Kattywompus Press. 
Visit her website at

         for B.T.

I couldn't wait to take your name,
never took another's. Why

give up the vigor of a name? Vibration.
Never took my father's again,

or my mother's, her father a burden
no one desired. Possession

through a name was in the air then.
Never a hyphenation, but

a confine, an erasure to camouflage
the solo. Did I belong to you?

To a language learned, fragments of two
I never did? To the haik

I never wore, never daring to seek
pleasure from the silk cloth

caressing my legs, my arms, never
daring to fuse with Algerian

women, their rhythm, their melodic
flow across the whitewashed

city, Alger la Blanche. Did I belong to
the fragrance of orange blossom,

jasmine nights? Translucent noon.
Aquamarine. A name is not

a stone. You can clear a name, you can
name your poison. There was

none, only possession we rushed to own
back then, roles to fill. I still

belong to my father, bear his essence,
sense his incantations, his rituals.

Tunes play in my head when I hear
I didn't catch your name.

Rhymes with Jersey, not curtsy, I say.
Z as in zebra, its roots a wild,

forked geography from mine, mine
a found name my father chose

to disguise origin in another time.
So I ask if your name is still

me. Isn't it only a harmony of rosemary
and thyme, wind raling over

a wrought-iron balcony, shoulders curved
toward the slant of everywhere?

Roll call of earth heaped on both sides
of a fresh wound. Someone else

trickling grief, scattering nicknames
over you. I will never see

the in-betweens of the five letters
of your name. Caress of carnation,

rose. A star, as a name in lights. The last
letter an "I" belong to the story.

(from CASBAH, Kattywompus Press, 2017)


Lehman weaves a portrait of her father comic-book creater Mr. Chmielewski

A native of Warsaw, Poland and a graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Monique Lehman is an accomplished and original tapestry artist whose work may be found in museum collections around the world (the Vatican, Long Beach Museum of Art, Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz, Poland and the Space Museum in Cape Canaveral, FL), as well as in many American public buildings, city halls, churches, hospitals and synagogues. Her creative output continues the centuries of development of unique fiber art tradition, previously unknown in America and created exclusively by Polish artists.  

Lehman in China with a poster based on her self-portrait tapestry

Monique Chmielewski came from Poland to USA in 1978 invited by an American artist to teach at her studio in California. When the Pope John Paul II visited Chicago, Monique greeted him by presenting his portrait she wove as a 6’ x 4’ tapestry. Since the American TV showed this event on the news, the public learned about the Polish tapestry school.

Working on a tapestry at home

Monique was invited to lecture about art and soon Polish tapestries became desirable objects for American collectors. Ms. Lehman, a member of Zwiazek Polskich Artystow Plastykow, shares her time between exhibiting, working on large commissions, and organizing art shows for artists from China in Poland and Polish artists in American and China museums. She is a real ambassador of Polish Fiber Art. Her knowledge of languages and cultures help her to promote Polish art in Asia and the Americas. This year she was invited as a special guest to World Textile Art in Uruguay and Biennale of Art in Karachi, Pakistan.

Fragment of award-winning Chopin Cape by Lehman

Monique’s accomplishment is bringing European visual criteria to America and China, as well as sharing Polish culture. Her monumental tapestries such as the parochet for Temple Beth El, La Jolla, CA, or the Portrait of St. Francis, typically take several years to complete. The large-scale works created on commission are just one side of her creative talent. She also developed an original style of abstract tapestries, that are three dimensional, may change shapes, and have a rich palette of colors and textures to express their themes.  

With large tapestry at Pasadena City College

Since 2010, she participated in 29 prominent international exhibitions on four continents (Asia, North and South America and Europe), including exhibitions held in: Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada; Oaxaca, Mexico; Beijing and other cities in China; the Lodz Triennale, and many other exhibitions in Poland (Bytom, Czestochowa, Gdynia and so forth), as well as Long Beach, Palos Verdes, Ontario, and Pasadena in California. She was recently invited to show her fiber art as a solo artist in Montevideo, Uruguay, during the WTA Conference in October 2017, and will hold a Retrospective Exhibition in the Museum of Textiles in Beijing, China, in the following year. 

Lehman with her Rain Forest tapestry

She promotes tapestry art by organizing international shows in Europe, China and the U.S. One of her internationally exhibited projects with contributions by 100 artists from 20 countries was the Memorial Tapestry commemorating the victims of 9/11. Monique’s goal was to promote polish art not only in the USA but internationally. The artist participated in many Contemporary International Fiber Art Exhibitions and served as a jury member since 2006. For her achievements in the field of fiber arts, Monique Lehman received an honorary degree of Professor from Zibo Vocational Institute, in the city of Zibo, Shandong Province, China. She included many Polish artists in the largest Fiber Art show in Asia,“From Lausanne to Beijing.” She is a judge of this show and invited eminent Polish professors to join her in selecting the work for display. 

Modeling Wearable Art on the Beach

Working on the tapestry for La Jolla Temple Beth El.
Her unique passion is Wearable Art. In February 2017, she received a prize for her artwork shown
at the International Exhibition of Wearable Art in Palos Verdes, Monique promotes this type of art
which was first invented by Polish art students, who could not buy fashionable or original clothes  
in the 1970s. 

Fragment of tapestry by Lehman

Monday, May 8, 2017

Village Poets present Michael C Ford and John Brantingham, May 28, 2017, Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga

Passing of the Laurels 2017: Elsa Frausto, Dorothy Skiles, Marlene Hitt,
Joe DeCenzo, new poet laureate, Pamela Shea and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk

The joy of poetry continues in the foothills... After the 2017 Passing of the Laurels Ceremony and crowning PAMELA SHEA the Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga for the years 2017-2019, we are proud to present two of the most famous and accomplished poets of California, MICHAEL C. FORD AND JOHN BRANTINGHAM, both with an extensive record of book publications and public appearances (see below). 

They will co-feature on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga, the Historic Monument No. 2 in the City of Los Angeles. The Museum is located at 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. and celebrated its centennial in 2013.  The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society, a dedicated group of community volunteers. 
It is only the second time in the history of Village Poets Monthly Readings (since 2010) that we feature a Pulitzer Prize Nominated Poet, Michael C. Ford. Our first Pulitzer Prize Nominee was John Z. Guzlowski (April 2011) who also recently received the Benjamin Franklin Prize for his poetry. The readings include a featured poet (20 min. each for two poets) and two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue. The Village Poets group consists of: Marlene Hitt, Joe DeCenzo, Dorothy Skiles, Elsa S. Frausto, and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, all former Poets Laureate of Sunland Tujunga.  


Michael C. Ford

Michael C. Ford is a poet, playwright and recording artist. He has been publishing steadily, since 1970 and credited with over 28 volumes of print documents.
He’s been featured on approx. 65 spoken word tracks that include California Artists Radio Theatre productions plus 4 solo recordings. Since 1985. His debut vinyl {Language Commando} received a Grammy nomination [1987] and his Selected Poems  [1998] earned a Pulitzer nomination on the 1st ballot.

His poetic narrative titled VIETNAM /  PEACE CASUALTIES published on-line for  November 3rd  Club was nominated for a 2006 Pushcart Prize. His first CD document was Fire Escapes; was a 1995 entry from New Alliance Records & Tapes. His 2010 document is titled 20TH Century Goodbye:  the  production being a collaboration between Michael Campagna and Larry Thrasher:  both of whom brought their Psychic TV chops to the project. 

Hen House Studios has been promoting and marketing his CD   Look Each Other in the Ears [2014]. That document, in both vinyl and CD formats features a stellar band of musicians, not the least of which were surviving members of a 1960s theatre
rock quartet that most of you will remember as The Doors.  His most recent volume of poetry published by Word Palace Press  is titled Women Under The Influence {2016}

  • Stuttering in the Starlight (1970)
  • There’s a Beast in My Garden (1971)
  • The Mt. Alverno Review [editor: West Coast anthology in tribute to Kenneth Patchen] (1971)
  • Sheet Music [chapbook-length poem] (1972)
  • Lacerations in a Broom Closet [prose] (1973)
  • Lawn Swing Poems (1975)
  • Rounding Third (1976)
  • West Point [chapbook-length poem] (1977)
  • Sleepless Night in a Soundproof Motel (1978)
  • Prologue to an Interview with Leonard Cohen [replicated broadside] (1979)
  • Foreign Exchange [editor: National Anthology] (1979)
  • Two American Plays (1980)
  • Sloe Speed [chapbook-length poem] (1984)
  • Prior Convictions (1985)
  • Ladies Above Suspicion (1987)
  • Twice [a sheath of broadsides] (1989)
  • Tourguide Machinegun (1992)
  • Cottonwood Tract [chapbook-length poem] (1996)
  • Emergency Exits [ Selected Poems: 1970-1995] 1998 Pulitzer nomination – REVIEW – Michael C Ford immortalizes and, in many instances, resurrects not only past popular iconic figure, but those neglected regions and landmarks from the Pacific Northwest to the shores of Lake Michigan, marking passages of time in America. – Los Angeles Times
  • Nursery Rhyme Assassin (2000)
  • To Kiss the Blood off Our Hands (2007)
  • The Marilyn Monroe Concerto [3-movement pamphlet edition] (2007)
  • The Demented Chauffeur (2009)
  • The Las Vegas Quartet [single poem pamphlet edition] (2011)
  • San Joaquin County Solutions [collaboration with North Central Valley photo-journalist Rose Albano Risso (2011)
  • Atonal Riffs to a Tone-Deaf Borderguard (2012)
  • Women Under the Influence (2016)

                    To Laurel  Ann Bogen

have a good idea, Laurel Ann!
whenever you get real down and 
sad and flippy and  gloomy and 
wig'd out and your whole head feels 
like the Hindenburg making you feel 
like you just want to crash in New Jersey, 

not pretend all poets in Los Angeles 
named Laurel Canyon after you: okay,
but for an assortment of alienated human
beings, it's a crappy canyon full of post
hippie love heads, secular humanists, a 

reactionary corporate criminals with fat 
wallets, an unwholesome variety of 
me-generation burnouts; but I know most 
LA poets would have the best intention: 

one of their own in high esteem; besides,
think about what pigeons in Buffalo, New 
York do to the statues at Lafayette Square! 

see, Laurel Ann, it's really not so terrible to 
be able to move around: turning into some 

petrified memory could be just another stone 


(C) by Michael C. Ford


John Brantingham
John Brantingham teaches creative writing at Mt. San Antonio College, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, and the Center for the Arts. He is the author of Dual Impressions: Poetic Conversations about Art, an ekphrastic collection. He also published the following books and chapbooks:
  • East of Los Angeles, 
  • Putting in a Window, 
  • The Mediterranean Garden, 
  • Heroes for Today, 
  • Mann of War, 
  • Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods, 
  • The Gift of Form, 
  • The Green of Sunset, 
  • In the Land of Bears, and 
  • Study Abroad. 
Brantingham also co-authored How to Write, a textbook, and wrote The Gift of Form: A Pocket Guide to Formal Poetry. His blog "30 Days until Done" contains different instructions every month: "This month we are writing poems about joy," or "This month, we write poetic letters..." Visit:

Two of his poems were featured by Garrison Keillor on the Writer's Almanac and you can find his books on

It is difficult to praise a book of poems that you already feel so emotionally connected to: it seems unnecessary, a gesture that only takes away from the beauty, wisdom, goodness, honesty, imaginativeness, and spirituality of the work itself. Nevertheless, John Brantinghham’s The Green of Sunset is the finest collection of poems he has ever written, which is saying something, considering he’s been producing excellent work for going on 20 years now. Let the prose poems contained in this collection stand alongside those in Mark Strand’s Almost Invisible and Jim Harrison’s In Search of Small Gods as some of the most accomplished of the past decade. Simply put, these poems are the work of a writer operating at the very top of his craft.

--Paul Kareem Tayyar, Author of In the Footsteps of the Silver King (Spout Hill Press) and Follow the Sun (Aortic Books).

Our best writers weigh their words carefully, and John Brantinghham is certainly one of them. He is a craftsman with a huge heart who cares deeply about people and stories and the chaos we call our lives. His characters are beautifully rendered, real and true, at once vulnerable and courageous. Wise and insightful, Brantinghham's work brilliantly captures the light and darkness in us all.

--James Brown, Author of The Los Angeles Diaries and This River.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From Elsa to Pamela, a Wreath and a Heart - Passing of the Laurels 2017

McGroarty Arts Center by Maja Trochimczyk

On Sunday, April 23, 2017, at the McGroarty Arts Center (7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga, CA 91042) a celebration of poetry took place - the ninth such event in 18 years.  The local poetry and cultural community participated in the Passing of the Laurels 2017 Ceremony, with Elsa S. Frausto, the Eighth Poet Laureate (2014-2017) passing the laurel wreath and the poets' heart to Pamela Shea, the Ninth Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga, selected to serve in this voluntary and prestigious post for the years 2017-2019.

The celebration opened with beautiful guitar music played by Vincent Reyes, and the guests were welcomed by a representative of the host institution, the McGroarty Arts Center, Dawn Jenkins.

Dawn Jenkins welcomes guests to the Passing of the Laurels Ceremony. 

DAWN JENKINS, a volunteer serving on the McGroarty Arts Center Board of Directors, pointed out that the celebration was taking place in the former home of California Poet Laureate (1933-1944), playwright, and politician, Mr. John Steven McGroarty (1862-1944) whose beautiful mountain villa became the cultural center serving the entire community with a variety of programs, from ceramics, to piano, poetry and dance. McGroarty's titles to fame, besides serving for two terms in the U.S. Congress, were writing for the Los Angeles Times, creating the Mission Play, and a rich volume of poetry, with "Just California" being the most famous. The reading of“Just California”, was required by all California elementary school students.

JOE DECENZO grew up in Los Angeles and majored in theater and English Literature. From 2004-06 he served as poet laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. He produced the “Shouting Coyote” performing arts festival and was a Department of Cultural Affairs grant recipient. His published works include The Ballad of Alley and Hawk and contributions to anthologies and journals. He currently serves on the planning committee for the Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga and as Chair of Poet Laureate Search Committee.

Joe DeCenzo. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk 

Joe DeCenzo presented the history and importance of the McGroarty Arts Center and the Poet Laureate program in the following speech:

"Thank you all for attending and supporting the literary arts in the foothills. Your presence here not only honors the family who built this house but also the artisans who built this community more than a hundred years ago.  Poet Laureate strives to nurture our cultural pride, to inspire our sense of unity, and to help young writers grow their confidence and express their voice.  Your attendance here affirms its value.

"As you arrived today you either ascended the steep asphalt drive or you climbed the recently constructed stairs playfully decorated with ceramics and objects of personal worth and meaning to the people who donated them; hundreds of people whose lives have been touched by this house and programs it provides.

"It’s been said- the reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is so we would listen twice as much as we speak.  I invite you to take this moment to listen to the murmurs and whispers of this house because “These Walls Talk”

They echo sounds of every poem written, every song sung
They speak of determination and stamina to rise through fire’s ash
They speak of faith, family and the future of a people
   Nestled in the offerings of Verdugo
These walls envelop those oppressed at sundown,
   Mourn those interned in hostile times
   Dignify those neglected at the table of human discourse
   For they were raised by artists’ hands and stand for decency
More than the enduring river rock foundation
More than the mission tile roof offering shelter from the blazing summer sun
Beyond the warmth and comfort of the hand hewn ceiling beams -these walls talk
   They say, “Come to me and fail for you will then learn to succeed.
   Break with strict convention and your visions will expand.”
Oh, how you talk, resonant walls of Rancho Chupa Rosa
The lure of humming birds to their creative nectar spring
Reverberate in times to come, Evoke your builder’s dreams

  Joe DeCenzo, April 23, 2017

Center: Joe Aguirre with his wife, Kathabela and Rick Wilson. 
Second row: Peter Larsen,with wife, third row: Marlene Hitt. 
Joe DeCenzo who was the Fourth Poet Laureate (2004-2006) thanked the Director of the McGroarty Arts Center, Joe Aguirre for inviting poets yet again to the home of the California Poet Laureate from the 1930s and 1940s.  Mr. Aguirre, a retired school principal, works as a volunteer and also served on the Poetry and Literature Committee 2017 that elected the new poet laureate from a pool of worthy candidates. The Committee also included the following members: Joe DeCenzo, Marlene Hitt, Elsa Frausto, Dorothy Skiles, Bill Skiles, and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk.

Dorothy Skiles, Marlene Hitt, Joe DeCenzo, Luis Rodriguez and Maja Trochimczyk

Joe DeCenzo then introduced Maja Trochimczyk, the Sixth Poet Laureate (2010-2012) who designed the event's  program, prepared print materials and decorations, and served as the MC for the "official" part of the program. She read one of her poems and presented Past Poets Laureate who made great contributions to the poetry life in the foothills. In 2010, Joe passed the laurels and congratulations to Maja when she became the Poet Laureate, and in 2012, shared with her many congratulatory scrolls from government officials.

Joe DeCenzo with Maja Trochimczyk at the 2012 Passing of the Laurels Ceremony. 

MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, a Polish American poet, music historian, photographer, and author of six books on music, most recently Frédéric Chopin: A Research and Information Guide (rev. ed., 2015). Trochimczyk’s seven books of poetry include Rose Always, Miriam’s Iris, Slicing the Bread, Into Light, The Rainy Bread, and two anthologies, Chopin with Cherries and Meditations on Divine Names. The Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, she is the founder of Moonrise Press, and Board Secretary of the Polish American Historical Association. She is a recipient of awards and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, Polish Ministry of Culture, Polish American Historical Association, McGill University, and USC.

View from McGroarty Arts Center, photo by Maja Trochimczyk


We are a miracle of life

We do what we want
We want what we do

We are perfect

We are a cosmic tree
We grow by the calm lake of light

Its smooth opal surface
Reflects the sun’s smiling face

Our roots drink liquid light
Our crowns sparkle with stars

Our leaves are green with peace
Our flowers are gold with joy
Our fruit is ripe with wisdom

We are a living miracle
We are perfect

From noon to midnight
From midnight to noon

We love what we do
We do what we love

We are – We shine
We are one with One

We are perfect

(C) 2017 by Maja Trochimczyk (A version of a poem originally published in Into Light, 2016)

Marlene Hitt

MARLENE HITT is a Los Angeles poet, writer and retired educator with local history as an avocation. She served for many years as Archivist, Museum Director, and Historian at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. She is a graduate of Occidental College, a 26- year member of the Chuparosa writers and the First Poet-Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga 1999-2001. Her poetry has appeared in several journals, three chapbooks, one book (Clocks and Water Drops, Moonrise Press, 2014) and in local newspapers. She wrote an  history book, Sunland-Tujunga from Village to City and served as columnist for the Foothill Leader, Glendale News Press, North Valley Reporter and the Voice of the Village newspapers since 1998.

Selected books with Marlene Hitt's poems. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk


What can we leave when we go away?
Not just loneliness and grief
but a past to offer on a day like today.
Loving deeds, our words
that make images float about,
telling of cautions we should heed,
joys that swirl within and without
our memories, and the knowing,
believing that all things change,
acceptance of should and ought and must.
Grace in all and even exchange.
See the children copy his step,
see them dress in his ways,
see how his friendship's riches
are spent throughout our days.
and thank him, thank him for his life
the mentor, the leader, the friend,
that father, that granddad, that husband or wife.
nothing will ever really end.
we will remember and copy the mold
yet with sorrow that the bell has tolled.

(c) by Marlene Hitt

Marlene did not even say she's the 2017 Woman of the Year whose name was entered into the congressional record by Congressman Adam Schiff - it was his representative Teresa Lamb-Simpson, who shared this important news with the audience.

By the time Marlene read her poem, the beautiful hall was filled to capacity (about 120 people). The next Poet Laureate who made great contributions to the poetic life in the foothills was Dorothy Skiles, the Seventh Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga (2012-2014).

Dorothy and Bill Skiles listen to the proceedings among the event's audience. 

DOROTHY SKILES is a poet and retired administrator with Los Angeles County, Department of Public Social Services.  Served the public for over thirty-four years. She currently serves on the planning committee for the Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga. Dorothy published a series of chapbooks: The Sidewalk Gallery (1979),  Ear to Earth (1996), Spine Flower Blues (1999) - a collaborative effort with fellow members of the Chuparosa Writers of Sunland-Tujunga, and Riddle in the Rain (2003) - a joint venture with Marlene Hitt. Her work also appears in Meditations on Divine Names (2012) and in various poetry anthologies and journals.

Dorothy Skiles welcomes guests to the McGroarty Arts Center


I awaken
To a sunny morn,
Yet how fickle you can be.
You’re mood changes
So dramatically!
A clap of thunder,
A flash of lightening,
I grab my raincoat,
Umbrella tucked
Under my arm!

By late afternoon,
The rain stops,
Sunlight again.
All is bright!
Raindrops glisten
Among the branches
And budded leaves of
The white birch trees.

Oh April!                                                                                      

What will tomorrow bring?
Why, of course, another
Lovely, lovely day of spring!

Dorothy Skiles
©Copyright 2014 D. Skiles

Teresa Lamb-Simpson and Vickere Murphy listen to the proceedings.

The next part of the program was the introduction of distinguished guests representing local, state, and federal politicians.  We were very happy that so many distinguished guests have decided to join us during this Ninth Passing of the Laurels Ceremony, in 18 years. We have been doing it since 1999 and the presentations of congratulatory certifications and scrolls has always been an important part of this event.

A representative from the Office of Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. – Mr. Tony Wilkinson, Community Liaison, for Council District #7 presented a certificate to Elsa Frausto, thanking her for the three year of service as Poet Laureate and for the many contributions she made to the promotion of reading, literacy and poetry in the local community, especially in collaboration with the Sunland-Tujunga Library.

Tony Wilkinson representing Herb Wesson, President of City Council. Photo by Bill Skiles

Elsa Frausto then received a congratulatory certificate from a representative from the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Mr.  Jerrod R. DeGonia, Senior Field Deputy.

Jerrod DeGonia congratulates Elsa Frausto, Photo by Bill Skiles

We were honored to also have State of California representatives with us.  From the office of California State Assemblymember, Raul Bacanegra, 39th District came Eric Menjivar, Communications Director, to present congratulations and certificates to both the past and the future Poets Laureate.

Pamela Shea with her Congratulatory Certificate from the State Assemblyman, Raul Bocanegra

Elsa Frausto received a honorary certificate from the California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino, the 25th State Senate District, represented by Vickere Murphy, District Representative. Finally, and not included in the printed program, we had with us a representative from the office of U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, that is from the Congressional District No. 28 – Ms. Teresa Lamb Simpson who made a speech about the importance of poetry and culture for the Congressman, and mentioned the recent honor bestowed on Marlene Hitt by the U.S. Congress.

Elsa S. Frausto with her honorary certificates.

After the closure of the official part of the event, the presentation of congratulatory certificates to Elsa Frausto and Pamela Shea, the audience enjoyed a musical treat: two classical pieces for flute and guitar beautifully played by Alice Pero with Vincent Reyes.  Their masterly interpretation of  impressionistic works by Jacques Ibert – Entr'Acte   for flute & guitar and Francis Poulenc –  Mouvements Perpétuels, transported the audience into sublime realms of beauty as they contemplated the elegance and expressiveness of the music, performed with great musicality and virtuosity by the members of the renowned Windsong Chamber Players ensemble.

Alice Pero and Vincent Reyes. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

ALICE PERO graduated from The Manhattan School of Music and is founder of both Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble and the celebrated poetry reading series, Moonday. Her first poetry volume is Thawed Stars, published in 1999; her works appeared in many journals and anthologies. She recently wrote Sunland Park Poems, with Elsa Frausto (Shabda Press, 2017).  She has taught poetry to school children since 1991 and enjoys alternating between poetry and music and enjoying time with her four grandchildren.

Alice Pero and Vincent Reyes, photo by Maja Trochimczyk. 

VINCENT REYES has been playing and teaching classical and jazz guitar professionally since the age of 15.  He is a founding member of Windsong Players and has been working lately a great deal on a cruise ship as well as playing for productions of East West Players.

For those who did not attend the ceremony, here's another rendition of Poulenc's Mouvments Perpetueles played by Alice Pero with Vincent Reyes, from a Windsong Ensemble concert:

It is hard to overestimate the role that this beautiful Musical Interlude played in elevating the mood and quality of the entire event. Many listeners came to thank Alice and Vincent for their wonderful performance at the end. In ancient Greece, the Muses of Poetry and Music were sisters, so that's one reason why the flute and guitar performance was loved so much! For more, be sure to attend their next concert, and in the meantime, listen to more recordings on the Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble YouTube Channel.

Elsa S. Frausto with her laurel wreath.

Finally, the most important part of the program began with the "Swan Song" reading by ELSA S. FRAUSTO, the Eight Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga who served in that role since 2014.
Elsa's poems spanned her entire writing career, and ended with two excerpts from her book of 2017, Sunland Park Poems, co-written with Alice Pero.

A native of the Argentinian Pampas, she has lived in Tujunga under the shade of oaks and with the nightly scent of chaparral and sage for close to thirty years. She has been active in the local literary community as a member of the Chuparosa Writers, editor, readings organizer and host (Camelback Readings) and most recently Wide Open Readings at the Sunland-Tujunga Library where she also showcases the Poem of the Month.Together with the Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga, she participates in the monthly poetry readings at Bolton Hall. She is widely published in English and Spanish; and recently co-authored (with Alice Pero) a chapbook Sunland Park Poems (Shabda Press, 2017) which celebrates the beautiful Foothills we call home.



In the broken notes of his saxophone, 

a man writes a life.
This one says- I practice here
because I can't at home.
If they are broken, well, so is my life.
But I still come to the park
and my body curves in the shade it makes.


Waiting is like this

Sunlight on my eyes
and at my back
some warmth
like a secret
in plain sight 
we all share
Like the shadow
of an inclined head
and a hand
that writes
what it didn't know
a minute ago
Discovery is quick
Waiting is slow
In between, the crow,
announces its arrival

From Sunland Park Poems by Elsa Frausto and Alice Pero (Shabda Press, 2017)

The audience at the McGroarty Arts Center

The core of the Passing of the Laurels ceremony consists of crowning the new Poet Laureate with a "laurel" wreath - in our case it is a wreath of olive branches: olive for peace and for the oil of inspiration-wisdom-anointing. After placing the new wreath's on PAMELA SHEA's head, Elsa Frausto gave her the golden heart locket that contains dried leaves from all the past wreaths of all the past Poets Laureate. This locket has been passed on from one poet to the next since 1999, in an unbroken tradition. The name of the new Poet Laureate is then engraved on the plaque with all the poets' names, kept at the McGroarty Arts Center.

Elsa Frausto presents the golden heart locket to Pamela Shea. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk.

Elsa Frausto presents the Poet Laureate Plaque with Pamela Shea's name added.

Elsa Frausto with Pamela Shea receive flowers.  Photos by Maja Trochimczyk

PAMELA SHEA, the ninth Poet Laureate, has lived in the Sunland-Tujunga area for nearly 40 years. She is a writer and poet who chronicles her life through verse. Pam was born and raised in the foothills community of La Crescenta and studied at the University of Redlands.Her professional life has included medical office work, from which she is retired, and teaching in the fitness field, in which she is currently active. She has a long history of community service, which she has combined with her writing.

She finds inspiration in family and nature as well as in triumph and strife. She enjoys sharing her poems in hometown open poetry readings. Poetry has been her passion and therapy for as long as she can remember.
Her poems appeared numerous times in the local Voice of the Village newspaper, as well as in the monthly newsletter for Salem Lutheran Church in Glendale and the fundraising literature for the Health Ministries of the Foothills. Other poems appeared online in Village Poets and Poetry Laurels blogs.

Ms. Shea was a featured reader at the Shouting Coyote Performing Festival in 2004 and also led a workshop at that event on the Poetry of Nature. Since then, she participated in many readings with the Wide Open Readers, led by Elsa Frausto, and the Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga at Bolton Hall Museum.Her extensive record of community service includes many endeavors, such as volunteering for the Verdugo Hills Family YMCA’s annual Current Campaign Support Fund Drive for several years. She was also a member of VHY’s Senior Advisory Committee.

She started a poetry group that met weekly at VHY as well as served as a board member for two terms (six years of service) for the Health Ministries of the Foothills. She has also been involved in the Relay for Life.Ms. Shea is the proud mother of three and grandmother of two. She has been married 43 years and has lived in the same house in Sunland for almost 40 years

Pamela Shea. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

For her term as Poet Laureate she said: "I plan on taking poetry out into the community by facilitating quarterly seasonal poetry writing events for all ages. These events would be held at local venues that feature the flora and fauna of our community, such as Descanso Gardens, Deukmejian Park, the meditation garden at the Crescenta Valley YMCA, McGroarty Arts Center, and Bolton Hall. My goal is to foster a spirit of inspiration, affinity, and support for both established and budding poets, and to encourage them to experience the beauty of our environment together and use it as a muse for their own work."

Her first reading spanned her entire writing career, and included two poems cited below.

Pamela Shea, photo by Maja Trochimczyk


The dimension of openness
Is to live without restrictions
It is to break limitations 
Flying free through the universe
Embrace all while holding nothing
Unclasp the mind, the heart, the hands
Float in the sea of the cosmos
Journeying into expansion

(c) by Pamela Shea

Pamela Shea, photo by Maja Trochimczyk


The hazy smile of crescent moon,
The cheerful face of daffodil,
The brilliant, blazing midday sun
All show that spring is here.

Soft pinks and yellows of sunrise,
Explosive red-golds of sunset,
The clear blue skies of longer days
Confirm that spring is here.

The soft kiss of a rustling breeze,
Expectation of warmth to come,
Harmonious celebration
Whisper that spring is here.

(C) by Pamela Shea

Poets Laureate of Sunland Tujunga, L to R:  Elsa Frausto, Dorothy Skiles, Marlene Hitt, 
Joe DeCenzo, Pamela Shea and Maja Trochimczyk. Photo by Bill Skiles


The Passing of the Laurels event is supported in part by Poets & Writers through grants it has received from The James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the following individuals and organizations that made this event possible:


For their assistance and coordination we thank


Saturday, 6 May, 3 pm
Special Edition of Wide Open Reading
"Sunland Park Poems" by Alice Pero & Elsa Frausto
Sunland/Tujunga Library, 7771 Foothill Blvd, Tujunga, CA 91042

Sunday, May 28 – at 4:30 p.m
Village Poets Monthly Reading at the Bolton Hall Museum
Featuring Michael C. Ford and John Brantingham
10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042

Pamela Shea with Joe DeCenzo and Maja Trochimczyk, Photo by Bill Skiles

Appearances by Poet Laureate Pamela Shea:
 Pamela Shea is available for appearances at social and civic events, like opening of art exhibits, concerts, festivals, and government events. She has two readings coming up on Saturday, May 6, 2017. The first is for the Sylmar Woman's Club fashion show and luncheon at the Odyssey Restaurant. There are about 400 people expected! On Saturday evening, she will read at the McGroarty Arts Center's wine tasting event. On May 16, she will be presenting her poems at a painting fundraising event for Relay For Life at the Backdoor Bakery Cafe in Tujunga.

Pamela Shea, Elsa Frausto with Joe DeCenzo. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

DOROTHY SKILES concluded: "The Passing of the Laurels was both inspiring and magical, a day we won’t soon forget.  Very much a team effort -  a labor of love.  A testament of how people can work together to make a positive impact not only on the arts, but also in the space we occupy in this world.  Elsa, seeing you honored as the outgoing Poet Laureate, and Pam, seeing you crowned with laurels as the newly installed Poet Laureate, was a moving experience for all of us. The audience was warm and engaging, enjoying all that creative energy, musically and poetically, coming together in one place – the former House of John Steven McGroarty, nestled among the trees, a hallowed spot in the Verdugo Hills with a view of the San Gabriel mountains.  The audience was in no hurry to rush off, savoring good conversation and tasting an array of delicious edibles.  Lots of wonderful memories,"

Poets Laureate, Marlene Hitt, Dorothy Skiles, Pamela Shea, Joe DeCenzo, Elsa Frausto
and Maja Trochimczyk. Photo by Bill Skiles.