Thursday, July 26, 2018

Featured Poet Kathabela Wilson and Friends Present the Art of Tanka on August 26, 2018

Tanka Poets with Mariko Kitakubo at Kathabela and Rick Wilson's Poetry Salon.

On Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. the Village Poets Monthly Reading at Bolton Hall Museum (10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042) will focus on the ancient Japanese art of Tanka. The featured poet and reading organizer, Kathabela Wilson, will bring a group of Tanka Poets to share their work, with the musical accompaniment of Rick Wilson. The reading will last for 40 min. and will include 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, named after the "little land" that each settler received in the Tujunga and Sunland foothills when the area was settled. The readings adhere to a self-imposed PG-13 rating, without extreme depictions of sex or violence, and with an air of gentility,  so poets use their words to bless the world, rather than curse it.


Kathabela Wilson created and directs Poets on Site, Tanka Poets on Site, and Caltech Red Door Poets. She holds salons and weekly tanka meetings with her husband Rick Wilson at their home, hosts tanka performance festivals in and around Pasadena, California, and welcomes visiting poets. Kathabela performs with Rick’s accompaniment on flutes of the world in museums, galleries, libraries, and the local Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden. She has created more than thirty programs and themed anthologies containing international poets’ work. She leads the online Facebook group Tanka Poets on Site, for several years giving daily prompts for tanka writing exercises. Tanka Poets on Site was presented on the Queen Mary at the Tanka Society of America’s Tanka Sunday in 2013.

She currently writes “Mapping the Artist,” a weekly interview series with poets and artists, and hosts a weekly “Poetry Corner” for, where she presents many tanka poets. Kathabela (her pen name is Kath Abela Wilson) uses her patient, beautiful 94-year-old mother’s Maltese maiden name (Abela) as a centerpiece and inspiration. Kathabela and Rick travel the world together to math conferences (the summer of 2014 marked their fifth trip to China and Japan). She loves her work as TSA secretary, especially because it gives her close personal contact and friendship with members, and inspiration to collaborate with them and read their work even more closely.

clear summer evening
getting ready for
the great ball
Mt. Fuji
puts on her red dress

        Ekphrastia Gone Wild, 2013

inside my shadow
I feel the pull downward
lie down with long stems
of lilies naked to the pink
my legs are green

        Ribbons, Fall 2013

like a painting
a blue heron . . .
my heart lifts
like a brush
full of sky

        Atlas Poetica #20, 2015

Handmade Dish sent by tanka poet
David John Terelinck in Australia  for tanka mertings in California 

Kath Abela Wilson Tanka

your handmade dish
rolled and folded heart-shaped
holds cashews
the chili-lime of love
we lick our fingertips

Kathabela and Rick Wilson perform at the Bolton Hall Museum, July 22, Photo by Emil Schultz.


Tanka Poets will be joined by Jennifer Bentson  (
artist of the California Oaks. She will bring a few paintings on easels, and she will speak a few minutes on her experience with tanka poets and the oaks. 

The tanka poets will read some tanka from the  poets' tour of the Caltech campus tour with special focus the 400 year old oak that was lost a couple of years ago. Some poets and artists who are hoping to participate are Taura Scott, dalton perry, Charles Harmon, Mira Mataric, Jackie Chou, Joyce Futa, Briony James, Sonny Premo (artist), Jennifer Bentson (artist),  Deborah P. Kolodji, and Kath Abela Wilson. Poets performing  are all active members of Tanka Society of America.  All readings will have flute accompaniment by Rick.Wilson.

The poets will also give examples of tanka prose, tanka sequences, collaborative sequences kyoka and even cherita a relative of tanka --all by different poets as well as thoughts by the poets on why they write the form, its openness and variety. Poets will read from tanka journals especially to show a range of publication possibilities.


The reading on July 22, 2018 that featured Dr. Mira Mataric and Charles Harmon was a great success. The featured poets were pleased with the event, and Dr. Mataric commented: "We have been enjoying you and your events for many years and always come gladly with high expectations. This particular event was one of even more outstanding, successful performances and overall warm, friendly atmosphere. We came home happier and more elated. I want you to know how much we love and respect your efforts and friendship through the years. Thank you."

In response to Dr. Mataric's email, from her and her husband Gene, Dorothy Skiles stated: 

"Dear Mira,  It was a very enjoyable evening!  Thank you for your observations, kind words, and loyal support!  We so enjoyed having Charles and you co-feature!  Your animated delivery, both heartfelt and humorous poems were well received and very entertaining!  We strive to make it a welcoming place where new and seasoned poets can gather to perform their work in front of an engaged and appreciative audience.  We are so fortunate to have the support of the foothill community and beyond who attend our events and the Little Landers Society in providing the needed space.  Lastly, it’s the continuous support of poets like you who come to our events that and give their gift of poetry and community that keeps the doors open!"
Here are some photos taken by Emil "Gene" Schultz. Thanks to poets and photographer! 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Village Poets bring Poetry to the Independence Day Parade 2018!

Poets Car with Pam Shea as Statue of Liberty, and Dorothy Skiles, July 2018.

Since 2010, Village Poets rode in the Sunland Tujunga Parade. In 2018, the car received some new decorations -  two-word poems (golden hills, canopy of oaks, eccentric moon, yucca blooms, shining skies, and splendid sunset). The flowers' palette expanded to add pink and yellow, and the poets found some new costumes, with Dorothy Skiles and Joe DeCenzo in red, Maja Trochimczyk in navy with a shining sash from Marlene and a basket of poems and bookmarks, and Pamela Shea, Poet Laureate as Statue of Liberty in bright green.

Car Decorating party at Maja's, with Marlene and pom-poms.

The preparations started on July 3, when five poets gathered to decorate the car; Marlene Hitt, Sunland Tujunga's Poet Laureate No. 1 from 1999, rode with the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council, but brought ornaments for the convertible. 

Fourth of July

Battles are never over
Hatred is never done
We think one war is finished
Think, of course, we’ve won
This year we’ll see our fireworks
We always cheer in awe
At the splendor of mock battle
Thunder of battles’ call
We lie on the grass of the football field
With our eyes turned up to the sky
Forget that war means sorrow
That some of us here could die
If those marvelous fires and colors
In our deep blue summers’ eye
Could say ‘now all fighting is over’
We could sigh a rapturous sigh
Then that would be the meaning
Of the cheers of the fourth of July.

Marlene Hitt  (7/4/18)

Pamela Shea with her banner assistants, Patrick and Mere.

Pamela Shea who was Betsy Ross last year, became the Statue of Liberty, with her Poet Laureate sash, and brave assistants, Patrick Shea as Mr. Lincoln in a top hat, and Mere in patriotic miniskirt.  She wrote a celebratory poem after the event. Her bookmarks were a big hit with the spectators, and were all gone half-way through the route. 

2018 Fourth of July

A wonderful day
Honoring all things that are good
Starts with a parade 
In my neighborhood

Then fun in the pool
Great time with family, friends
Next a baseball game 
But that's not the end

The nighttime sky glows
Fireworks burst, music plays
The Fourth of July 
A picture perfect day

But remember, too
Our freedom's cost
Honor those gone
And those that we've lost

Also hold in your hearts 
Those less fortunate 
Who live on the margins
Against whom others discriminate

Independence survives on
Thanks to both present and past 
So live with values to give
And pray for peace that lasts

By Pamela Shea 
9th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga

The Poets' convertible on the parade route.

The Statue of Liberty was also commemorated in a poem by Elsa S. Frausto

Ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island

I'd move there just to be able to see the Lady of Liberty
every single day. One of my great  grandfathers saw her
as she appeared after days filled with water and waiting.
She holds the tired longing of so many eyes.
Here, imperfect union that we are.

(C) 2018 Elsa S. Frausto

Pam Shea as Statue of Liberty with a handmade torch.

Pamela Shea earlier wrote a poem about the nation's flag; its fragment was included on her bookmarks.

Old Glory

by Pamela Shea, 9th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga

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
We visited places of the deepest sorrow
As well as 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

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Parade's spectators with surprises for the poets - water!

Joe DeCenzo prepared a new CD of patriotic music in different styles, from Yankee Doodle Dandy, to Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, with several versions of America the Beautiful in between. The poets' cards included a printed version of two stanzas with music, and the sentiments of the two-word poems on the car reflected the focus on the beauty of natural landscapes in California. 

Team and the Poets' convertible, with two-word poems. 

Joe DeCenzo's poem added some stanzas to the little known sections of Katharine Lee Bates, from the original 1893 version of the poem.

From Sea to Shining Sea

(Honoring The Poem “Pike’s Peak” By Katharine Lee Bates) 

Oh beautiful for hearts combined
That see beyond the gloom
Whose brothers crawl from every land
And know we still have room
America! America!
Thy bosom shall defend
The virtues of our ancestors
Against those who offend

Oh Beautiful for those who speak
Above the boisterous crowd
Crusading for the dignities
That all men are endowed
America! America!
For better or for worse
Whose amber waves and proud refrains
Deserve another verse

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Oh Beautiful for those few words
Those seldom heard in song
Reminding us of principles
That built our nation strong
America! America!
Forever shall we stride
To find our brothers arm in arm
Where liberties reside

Joe DeCenzo

Joe DeCenzo driving the Poets' Convertible (actually his...) 

Maja Trochimczyk soaked by  water guns from the onlookers 
with Dorothy Skiles, considerably less wet. 

... All happy and having fun in the sun, but for both Maja Trochimczyk and Dorothy Skiles, the Fourth of July is a bitter-sweet date. Maja lost her Mom in 2013 and Dorothy lost her Dad in 1987. Here's an in memoriam poem by Dorothy.  

Fourth of July 1987

Oh Dad, you picked a
mighty fine day to die -
on the 4th of July!

You weren’t much
for parades, but you
sure loved those
homemade burgers
dripping with tangy
sauce and stuffed with
lots of pickles, with
a martini to boot!

Remember, when all
five of us kids stood
on Grandma’s front
porch, wide-eyed
watching fireworks
off Venice Pier?
You loved to shoot
them off  right
in the street –
colors were brilliant
and shone in your eyes!
We’d top it off, with vanilla,
chocolate, or strawberry,
ice cream, life was much
simpler then.

Oh Dad, you picked a
mighty fine day to die -
on the 4th of July!

Dorothy Skiles
Rev. July 2018
©Copyright 2018 by D. Skiles

Poetry basket with America the Beautiful and poetry cards. 

Maja Trochimczyk walked most of the route, giving out poems, cards with America the Beautiful and poetry bookmarks. All the poems were gone before reaching half the route which means we need to print a lot more for next year. 

Independence Day

Red - are the rocks of the Grand Canyon
White - are the mountains, covered with snow
Blue - are the waves of Pacific Ocean

Red, White and Blue - colors of all.

Red - is the Earth from which we come
White - is the Air that fills our lungs
Blue - is the Water inside us, with Stardust

Red, White and Blue - connected in all.

Red - is pure Love, deep in our hearts
White - is the Brightness of our minds
Blue - is the Peace of well-lived lives

Red, White and Blue - freedom for all.

(C) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

Dorothy, Pam, and Maja with Mere and Patrick holding the banner.

Elsa S. Frausto sent in the final poem, about celebrating Independence Day in our beautiful foothills.


These mountains are here,
the surprising flight of parrots and their calls,
the large, white Yucca blooms,
nights giving up their hidden scent
of oak and sage.
Days filled with unsurprising heat.
It's July after all,
and Whitman still sings the body electric.
A song to Independence,
here, imperfect union that we are.

Elsa S. Frausto, (c) 2018