Sunday, December 6, 2020

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominations from the "We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology"


We are pleased to inform you that the editors of "We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology" - Maja Trochimczyk and Marlene Hitt - nominated to the Pushcart Prize 2021 the following poems included in the anthology:  

  • Sharon Alexander, “Wheatfield with Crows” -p.8
  • Katerina Canyon, “Feet” -p. 171
  • Joe DeCenzo, “Conversing with Shadows” p. 181
  • Georgia Jones Davis, “Monumental Dog” – p. 63
  • Rick Lupert, “Heat” – p. 87
  • Mariano Zaro, “Synapse” – p. 157

Given the choice of 80 poets included in the anthology and the incredibly high artistic level of all their creations, the editor decided to follow their hearts and select poems that "resonated" with them in a personal way, and represented the diversity of poems and poets in the volume.  Congratulations to all! 

Marlene Hitt writes about her choices: "No one knows whether a poem is 'good.' The response of the reader is the important judgement. I chose Wheatfield With Crows because, at first, I was reminded, with emotion, of my own father's death. Upon reading I found enjoyment the dreamlike inward journey of the author. Sharon Alexander's language is more than pleasing and her images inspiring. Rick Lupert in Heat brings the reader into his world on a hot, hot day as he exaggerates a bit, then teases and pleases us as with a tall tale. Joe DeCenzo, with Conversing With the Shadows points toward the mystery of one woman' state of frailty in a memoir of her life as it has encapsulized in her failing memory as that memory then failed. It renders a kind and loving tribute to all life as it begins to end.  Poetry is for the poet, yes, but more for the reader and the connection of thought and emotion between the two. A poem speaks to each person with the beauty and passion which only words can do."

Maja Trochimczyk explains her selections: "I was really perplexed about the nominations from our anthology. I know it is a service to poets, and should be done, but in We Are Here there are so many amazing poems by incredibly talented poets that I was at a loss, wondering, what to do? In poetry, I am not interested in competitions and awards, but rather in expressing the infinity of human experience. When Marlene sent me her three titles, I realized I could simply pick poems that I love and that resonate with me at this particular time. I've always loved Georgia Jones Davis's Monumental Dog - the compassion for the hapless animal, sent by her trusted caretaker into the orbit, to certain death; the vivid portrait of a communist country, where life is not valued at all. I'm from Poland and I remember stories about this dog on our national news; though, back then, nobody eulogized her sacrifice. There was just praise for the technological triumph of Soviets over Americans in the space race... Katerina Canyon's Feet is another perennial favorite, perhaps because my Mom had not washed my feet like that, and neither did I wash hers. I guess it was through the longing of an abandoned child that found such intense beauty in filial love and devotion, captured so vividly by Canyon. Finally, Mariano Zaro's Synapse about the poignant last days of his father, expertly weaves personal emotion with scientific descriptions of the mystery of the brain at the end of life." 

Village Poets at the Passing of the Laurels Ceremony in 2017.


Edited by Marlene Hitt and Maja Trochimczyk, and entitled We Are Here: Village Poetry Anthology, this collection celebrates the 10th anniversary of Village Poets Monthly Poetry Readings. The volume presents 80 poets featured during the monthly readings at Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga, CA as well as the group of current and former Poets Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga who organize the readings. 
 In addition to its home base at the Bolton Hall Museum, the Village Poets have also had occasional visits to the McGroarty Arts Center, the former home of the California Poet-Laureate in 1933-1944, John Steven McGroarty. His Poet-Laureate title inspired the local Poet-Laureate program, established in 1999. The anthology's editors are both former Poets-Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga: Marlene Hitt was the First, in 1999-2001 and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk served as the Sixth in 2010-2012 when the readings were initiated.  

The volume includes work by: 15 Poets Laureate from California; 20 Pushcart Prize nominees – Accardi, Askew, Byrne, Canyon, Collins, Dobreer, Dove, Ford, Fancher, Luza,  Leland-St. John, O’Brien, Jones, Pero, Reyna, Rinne, Rogers, Rummel, Skiles, and Terzi; 12 current and former college professors – Campbell, Kirby, Dove, Lipkin, Lummis,  Peterson, Rummel, Rizk, Talwar, Trochimczyk, Saine, and Zaro; and eight poets with doctoral degrees – Dove, Lipkin, Mataric, Meyer (honorary), Peterson, Reyna, Saine, and Trochimczyk. Poets from the states of California, Illinois, New York, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington are represented along with those who have roots in 18 different countries: Argentina, Armenia, Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, the U.K., the U.S. and Vietnam.    

The colorful cover, designed by Maja Trochimczyk, features artwork by Polish American poet and painter, Andrew Kolo, who appeared at the readings to present both his art and his poetry. The painting, entitled “Landscape with the Palm Tree” (oil on canvas), is a mosaic of vivid, saturated colors, contrasting, yet somehow in harmony with each other. This is a great metaphor for a poetry reading filled with numerous, distinct poetic voices.  

The book consists of two parts: Guests and Featured Poets, represented by 1-3 poems each; and PoetsLaureate, with 10 local poets, represented by 6-8 poems each. A list of Village Poets Readings, a brief history of the program, and biographies of the poets are included as well. The 290-page anthology is published in two versions, as a paperback and an e-book in ePub format.  More information and list of poems: 


Edited by Bill Henderson, with the Pushcart Prize Editors, "the 45th edition of the most celebrated literary series in America, Pushcart Prize XLV is continuing evidence that much of today’s vibrant writing appears only in small journals and book presses. The series has been selected for Publishers Weekly Carey Thomas Award, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof citation, and the Poets and Writers/Barnes and Noble “Writers For Writers” award among others.  The current issue includes 70 authors from more than 50 presses, selected from the nominations of 220 distinguished Contributing Editors and 800 participating presses."

SHARON ALEXANDER - Nominated for "Wheatfield with Crows"

SHARON ALEXANDER recently relocated to Benissa Costa, Spain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Her chapbook, Instructions in My Absence, won first place in the Palettes & Quills 5th Biennial Chapbook Contest and was released May 2017. Voodoo Trombone, Sharon’s previous chapbook, was published by Finishing Line Press, 2014. Her poetry appears in several publications including Barbaric Yawp; Caliban On-line; Idyllwild Life Magazine; Naugatuck River Review; Pearl; Pinyon; Redheaded Stepchild; Santa Ana River Review; Slipstream; Subprimal Poetry Art; and Tiger’s Eye. You can also find her work in the following anthologies: Beyond the Lyric Moment (Tebot Bach, 2014); In the News (The Poetry Box, Summer 2018); Poeming Pigeons (The Poetry Box, 2015); and Spectrum: 140 SoCal Poets ( 2015). 

KATERINA CANYON -  Nominated for "Feet"

KATERINA CANYON is a 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her stories have been published in New York Times and Huffington Post. From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started a poetry festival called “Shouting Coyote Poetry Festival” and ran several poetry readings. She was featured in the Los Angeles Times and was awarded the Montesi Award from Saint Louis University in 2011, 2012, and 2013. She has published multiple chapbooks and an album. Her recent books include Changing the Lines, a volume of poetry, and Los Angeles Nomad, a novel.  She hosts weekly readings on Zoom, called Canyon Poets. You can find more information about her on her website, 

JOE DECENZO -  Nominated for "Conversing with Shadows"

JOE DECENZO grew up in Los Angeles and majored in theater and English Literature.  From 2004-06 he served as the 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 the Study Guide and Poetry Primer for the same collection. His poetry appeared also in Meditations on Divine Names anthology (Moonrise Press, 2012). He currently serves on the planning committee for the Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga, as Chair of the Poet Laureate Search Committee, and as Chair of the Arts and Recreation Committee of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council.

GEORGIA JONES DAVIS - Nominated for "Monumental Dog"

GEORGIA JONES-DAVIS grew up in Northern New Mexico and Southern California. A former Los Angeles Herald Examiner editor, Los Angeles Times Assistant Book Editor and former free-lance journalist, Georgia’s poetry has appeared in various publications including West Wind, The California Quarterly, Brevities, The Bicycle Review, Nebo, Eclipse, poethicdiversity, Ascend Aspiration and South Bank Poetry, London. She served as a board member of Valley Contemporary Poets for three years.  Georgia was honored as one of the 2010 Newer Poets by the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and the Los Angeles Public Library ALOUD series. She is the author of two chapbooks, Blue Poodle (2011)  and Night School (2015), by Finishing Line Press. 

RICK LUPERT - Nominated for "Heat"

RICK LUPERT has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. He served for two years as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets. He created the Poetry Super Highway ( ) and hosted the Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler” and “ The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express!”, and edited  “A Poet’s Siddur”, “A Poet’ s Haggadah”, the Noir anthology “ The Night Goes on All Night.” and “Ekphrastia Gone Wild” under his imprint Ain’t Got No Press. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including The Los Angeles Times, Rattle, Chiron Review, Zuzu’s Petals, Caffeine Magazine, Blue Satellite and others. He edited A Poet’s Haggadah: Passover through the Eyes of Poets anthology and is the author of thirteen books: Sinzibuckwud!, We Put Things In Our Mouths, Paris: It’s The Cheese, I Am My Own Orange County, Mowing Fargo, I’m a Jew. Are You?, Feeding Holy Cats, Stolen Mummies, I’d Like to Bake Your Goods, A Man With No Teeth Serves Us Breakfast (Ain’t Got No Press), Lizard King of the Laundromat, Brendan Constantine is My Kind of Town (Inevitable Press) and Up Liberty’s Skirt (Cassowary Press). . He is regularly featured at venues throughout Southern California and works as a music teacher and graphic designer for anyone who would like to help pay his mortgage.

MARIANO ZARO - Nominated for "Synapse"

MARIANO ZARO is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Decoding Sparrows (What Books Press, Los Angeles, CA) and Padre Tierra (Olifante, Zaragoza, Spain). His poems have been published in anthologies and literary journals in USA, Mexico and Spain. His translations into Spanish include Poemas de las Misiones de California by Philomene Long, Buda en llamas by Tony Barnstone and Cómo escribir una canción de amor by Sholeh Wolpé. He is the winner of the 2004 Roanoke Review Short Fiction Prize and the 2018 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Short Fiction Prize. Since 2010, he has been hosting a series of video-interviews with prominent American poets as part of the literary project Poetry.LA. (More information here: www.Poetry.LA). He is a professor of Spanish at Rio Hondo Community College (Whittier, California).  Website: 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Moonrise Press Presents "An Alphabet of Birds" by Toti O'Brien on Zoom, December 5, 2020 at 3 pm




Moonrise Press is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moonrise Press Presents Toti O'Brien's "An Alphabet of Birds"

Time: Dec 5, 2020 03:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting: Link provided by email to guests. Contact

This presentation is partly sponsored by the Dignity Health Foundation, through a grant for "Close to Nature" Project for Phoenix Houses of Los Angeles, with the California State Poetry as one of the collaborating partners. 

Link to the recording:


Buy it now: ISBN 978-1-945938-41-2, paperback, 184 pages, $15.00

Buy it now: ISBN 978-1-945938-42-9, ebook in ePub format, $10.00

Not quite hard to decipher… on the contrary, friendly and familiar sounding, An Alphabet of Birds is a prose collection inspired by “daily nature,” by those kerchiefs of landscape gracing us through a kitchen door, a car window, in the middle of our urban, busy life. They are glimpses and fragments, fugitive and yet poignant, loaded with surprise, magic, lessons to learn or else mysteries for the heart to treasure in secret, in awe. 

~ Toti O’Brien, author

An Alphabet of Birds encompasses an entire bestiary, from its namesake birds to the squirrel that owns the narrator’s backyard to the bears that own the salmon streams. The ground of these short prose pieces is everyday life, the “daily display of splendor.” Toti O’Brien invokes a world where what is wry and wise meets what is whimsical and surreal. Questions tumble, pile on top of one another, full of possibilities and speculation. O’Brien’s language has a rolling rhythm that unspools like an incantation. Fall under her spell and journey with her into the  mysteries of the quotidian.

~ Cynthia Anderson, author of Now Voyager and Route

This prose collection of 34 short stories describes the vagaries of birds, animals, plants, seen and described by a keen and talented observer. The author has patience, a gift of attentive focus on their behaviors and transformation, and a talent to write down the reflections on the meaning of these behaviors and transformation in the constant flow of daily life. Toti O'Brien author is a multi-talented poet, writer, artist, musician, and a friend of all living beings, the whole Earth.

~ Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D., Moonrise Press 

TOTI O’BRIEN is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish last name. She was born in Rome, Italy, raised in Sicily and France. After touring Europe and Brazil with her itinerant theater, in the early nineties, she established herself in Los Angeles where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. O’Brien’s first book of stories, Africa, was published in 1990. It was followed by another short story collection, Reversed Memories, two illustrated children books and an essay collection, Lanterna Magica, gathering selected work out of her long-term collaboration with Italian journals and magazines. O’Brien started writing in the English language in 2004. Since then, her poetry, fiction and non-fiction were published in hundreds of journals and anthologies in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, India, Australia, and all over the world. 

Her most recent appearances include The Moth, The Hamilton Stone, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and World Literature Today. Her poetry collection Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020) and a prose collection, Pages of a Broken Diary (Pskj’s Porch, 2021), are about to be released. Her work was nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fiction, Best American Essay, the Pushcart, and various other prizes. Her memoir ‘Nicotine’ won a nonfiction prose award in 2018. 

Her essay ‘Blur In The Front Line’ won the Anthony Award in 2016. Besides her creative writing, she contributes articles and reviews about art, music, film, literature and civilization to several magazines. She also translates poetry and prose from the Italian, the Spanish, and the French. O’Brien’s multimedia artwork was exhibited in group and solo shows in Europe and the US, since the early nineties. Her paintings, sculptures, collages and textiles were featured in many publications, and she has produced book covers and illustrations.

Table of Contents

In the Moonlight — 3 

The Lawn — 4 

The Staircase — 9 

The Leaf and the Butterfly — 14 

Darwin —17 

Pavo Regina — 21 

Terra Firma — 29 

Speculum — 33 

Milagros — 37 

Sunset Walk — 39 

Doves — 42

Precious — 47 

The Decadence of Grapefruit —49 

Spectrum — 58 

Dog Days — 61 

The Salmon and the Bear — 64 

Beautiful Bones — 69 

Creation — 72 

In the Garden — 81 

Lunacy — 84 

September — 93 

November — 99 

Peacocks — 102 

Engraved — 105 

Five Senses — 109 

At Risk — 127 

The Statue —129 

Augur — 134 

The Flowers — 139 

The Fountain — 141 

Part Out — 158 

An Alphabet of Birds —164

The Volvo and the Bike —168 

Gardener’s Companion — 172 

About the Author — 174