Monday, September 28, 2015

Farewell to Genevieve Krueger and Her Life of Poetry and Books

On Saturday, September 19, 2015, family and friends of poetry gathered at McGroarty Arts Center to honor Genevieve Krueger.  There were photos, heartfelt tribute, poetry readings, and a mini-concert to celebrate the life well-lived of a poet and publisher who did so much to promote poetry in the Foothills.  Since Ms. Krueger has been so important for the Village Poets and the Poet-Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga program, we decided to honor her memory on our blog as well. 

Genevieve Krueger (1929-2015) was born in St. Paul, MN to Edwin and Marion F. Stromme. She attended Mechanic Arts High School and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul with a Bachelor's of the Arts degree in Library Science and English. She married James (Jim) A. Krueger, an aeronautical engineer and pilot, and raised six children in Sunland. She was librarian at the school & church libraries and was active in the local Friends of the Library. Once the kids left home, she joined Jim on his trips for the FAA and began collecting books she'd find while Jim was working. 

Her love and her deep knowledge of books prompted her to start her own out-of-print book-finding business. With an uncanny memory, she could often reunite a customer with a favorite childhood book even when its author and title had long been forgotten, using just a description of the cover or a memory of the story. It was a fulfilling career, and the friends she made lasted a lifetime. When her beloved Jim passed away, she began pursuing her passion for writing and hosted a weekly poetry group in her home, publishing several volumes of members' poetry. She earned Congressional honors as the 2002 recipient of the McGroarty Poetry Award, which led to the foundation of the Sunland-Tujunga Poet Laureate Award. donations in her name can be made to McGroarty Arts Center, 7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga, CA 91042 or

This obituary appeared in the Los Angeles Times and was published by the Little Landers Historical Society where she was very active.  It was quite moving to see and hear all the memorial speeches and presentations, including a music performance with an Irish harp, flute and guitar, by her family members. 

I have not known Ms. Krueger very well. She attended my "Passing Off the Laurels" ceremony when I became the Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga in May 2010. She was also at some of my readings, where I appreciated her warmth and the connection we established in those brief moments after the poetry brought us together.  My memorial poem was, therefore, quite short:

For Genevieve

When sunlight is laughter is poetry is home
That's when you know Genevieve

When smile is kindness and words turn bright golden
That's when Genevieve is your friends

When poets and neighbors and in-laws and nephews
come together to speak of the one with the gifts

That's when you say Farewell to Genevieve
The moving spirit of the Foothills

The firefly of music and verse

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

As a poet, Genevieve Krueger co-founded the Chuparosa writing group that met in her home, helping poets to polish their works, and hone their talents.  The Chuparosa Poets published poetry calendars and anthologies. One notable book was entitled "Alpha Waves" and consisted of poetry, short stories and art by three women, Marlene Hitt, Genevieve Krueger and Leslie de Forrest.

Here's her poem from one of the Chuparosa Calendars:

Color is What You Make It

my soul is  the color of seventy six trombones tromboning

my soul whispers with the gray wind-scarf
hiding from the sun-painter
under mountain ledges, inside caves

my soul does an exhibition dance, a plaid one
over-and-under weaving
yellow, and orange, and red

my soul bursts like confetti
and sparkles the world around me

my soul blues and purples all day
muting and shading, softening,
cooling it

my soul rests in pregnant whiteness
waiting for whatever color I make it

(c) by Genevieve Krueger


slips like mercury
into crevices
and cracks

        "Where did the time go?"

into weather-sized pieces
so we know whether to wear
ski boots
or bikinis
when we wake up in the morning

with the help of the sun
splits light
and dark
and numbers them

teases me
by calling a song or a movie 
or a poem

      (which either means it does not 
       exist at all, or it is eternal - 
       what do YOU think?) 

(c) by Genevieve Krueger

Nonetheless, her family picked a different poem to share with the audience of the service, one dedicated to her husband, who died before Genevieve:

Easter Moon 

~ Jim - June 1924 - April 1985

In the spring of '85 Easter moon
rose above the mission roof
in a round glow of glory

we sat together on the weathered bench
our shadows side by side
I can't wait to be free from this body he said
I want to dance, to being again
to fly on my own
to be as I was meant to be

we watched that Holy Thursday moon
that spring solstice moon
announce the coming 
the going, the waning

I want to dance with you he said
under the moon and the stars
with wings he said
with wings I said
and our hands became our feet
and our smiles sang
in the warm and silent dark

(c) March 15, 2001, by Genevieve Krueger

Photos from the Memorial Service by Maja Trochimczyk

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