Sunday, February 6, 2011

The End of the Chopin Year (Vol. 2, No. 3)

We spent a very special year in the company of Fryderyk Chopin, his music, his thoughts, his friends and poets writing about him. In February 2010, Chopin with Cherries was officially unveiled at the Third International Chopin Congress in Warsaw. In the past, there were many studies of Polish poets associated with Chopin: friends whose poems he set to music, and those writing about him and his music after his death. The Chopin with Cherries anthology and presentations of various aspects of its contents is the first effort to gather and study English-language poetry about Chopin. Our year-long journey was filled with exciting events and publications, leading to an increased recognition of the lasting value of this collection. The next step will be issuing a version for e-book readers, but it is time to celebrate what has been accomplished so far.

The Poets

I am the most grateful to all the poets who submitted their work to this anthology and helped me find more poems to include. John Z. Guzlowski’s assistance has been invaluable in publicizing this collection through his Polish-American blogs and contacts. He also told me of Margaret C. Szumowski’s wonderful poem and connected me to Charles Fishman, who in turn sent me an inspired poem by William Pillin. Kathabela and Rick Wilson attended each of the four Chopin with Cherries group readings, in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Venice, and Chicago. At Venice and in Chicago, Rick played Chopin on historical flutes from his collection. They also hosted a Chopin Salon in Pasadena, helping local poets connect to Chopin's music. Dr. Mira Mataric has faithfully participated in all California readings and is working on Serbian translations of selected poems.

A sincere thank-you to all the poets featured in Chopin with Cherries: Millicent Borges Accardi, Austin Alexis, Lucy Anderton, Sheila Black, George Bodmer, Lia Brooks, Kerri Buckley, Allison Campbell, Peggy Castro, Sharon Chmielarz, Victor Contoski, Clark Crouch, Beata Pozniak Daniels, Jessica Day, Diane Shipley DeCillis, Lori Desrosiers, Charlie Durrant, T. S. Eliot, David Ellis, Donna L. Emerson, Charles Ades Fishman, Jennifer S. Flescher, Gretchen Fletcher, Linda Nemec Foster, Emily Fragos, Jarek Gajewski, Helen Graziano, John Z. Guzlowski, Lola Haskins, Shayla Hawkins, Elizabyth A. Hiscox, Marlene Hitt, Roxanne Hoffman, Laura L. Mays Hoopes, Ben Humphrey, Carol J. Jennings, Charlotte Jones, Lois P. Jones, Georgia Jones-Davis, Christine Klocek-Lim, Jean L. Kreiling, Leonard Kress, Emma Lazarus, Marie Lecrivain, Jeffrey Levine, Amy Lowell, R. Romea Luminarias, Rick Lupert, Radomir V. Luza, Mira N. Mataric, Ryan McLellan, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Elisabeth Murawski, Ruth Nolan, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Rosemary O'Hara, Dean Pasch, Nils Peterson, Richard Pflum, William Pillin, Kenneth Pobo, Carrie A. Purcell, Marilyn N. Robertson, Susan Rogers, Alison Ross, Mary Rudge, Russell Salamon, Gabriel Shanks, Marian Kaplun Shapiro, Joseph Somoza, Lusia Slomkowska, Kathi Stafford, Maxine R. Syjuco, Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Margaret C. Szumowski, Katrin Talbot, Taoli-Ambika Talwar, Thom Tammaro, Mark Tardi, Cheryl M. Thatt, Tammy L. Tillotson, Helen Vandepeer, Devi Walders, Erika Wilk, Martin Willitts, Jr., Kath Abela Wilson, Leonore Wilson, Meg Withers, Anne Harding Woodworth, and Marianne Worthington.

Three poets have responded to my requests for personal comments about Chopin’s music and their inspirations: Mark Tardi, Tammy L. Tillotson, and Ben Humphrey. It would be nice to hear from more poets…


Pushcart Prize Nominations

As the editor of the collection, I took the liberty of nominating some of my favorite poems to the 2010 Pushcart Prize for Poetry. It was a very hard choice since I love all the poems in this anthology. I picked those who could “use” a nomination, so to speak… The Pushcart Prize and publication in the annual collection of the best poetry published by small presses and literary journals nationwide has become one of the most prestigious honors in the poetry field. The nominations are made by editors and publishers who select the best of the best from amongst the work that they have published during the past year. We are proud to present the following Pushcart Prize 2010 nominees:

  • Lia Brooks for "During Nocturne"
  • Elizabeth Murawski for "Polonaise"
  • Diane Shipley DeCillis for "Postcards of Home and Homesick"
  • Sharon Chmielarz for "Chopin: Apples"
  • Katrin Talbot for "It's been a tough symphony week," and
  • Leonard Kress for "The Piano of Chopin," a translation of Cyprian Kamil Norwid's poem "Fortepian Szopena"

Congratulations to all the poets! It would not be amiss to mention here that some of our poets have received other nominations and prizes. Elizabeth Murawski won the prestigious 2010 May Swenson Award (read her blog entry) Lois P. Jones and Millicent Borges Accardi were nominated for Pushcart Prizes by other small-presses.



CHRISTOPHER WOODS: “For those who have been moved by the music of Fryderyk Chopin, this new international anthology will be a treat… one breathtaking aspect of the anthology is the diversity of voices, both stylistically and geographically. .. One of the striking aspects of the anthology is the way in which the editor, Polish born Maja Trochimczyk, arranges the various sections, not only by musical forms, but also into sections like beauty and death, words that often come to mind when considering Chopin’s life, his passions and his early demise.” Christopher Woods in Contemporary World Literature 5 (Feburary 2011).

ELIZABETH KANSKI: "In Poland, June is the month for Bing cherries (czeresnie) and July for sour cherries (wisnie), but it is Chopin season year-round, especially in 2010, the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great composer. Maja Trochimczyk, Polish American music historian, poet and photographer, decided to celebrate Chopin's birthday in an unconventional manner: with 123 poems by 92 poets, gathered together into a handsomely produced and exciting new anthology." Elizabeth Kanski in the Polish American Journal, September 2010, p. 21.

ALISON ROSS: "What is most striking about this verse tribute is how deftly the editor weaves together the various themes, treatments and styles within the volume, meticulously detailed in the introduction and then presented format-wise in the book... All in all, I am immensely pleased with how this anthology turned out. In fact, it exceeded my expectations, because it is so comprehensive and cohesive. The poems are fascinatingly diverse in voice, topic, content, and style, and the poems reveal such richly individualistic interpretations of Chopin's powerful pathos. . . "Chopin with Cherries" is an anthology to treasure as intimately as one might cherish Chopin's compositions. Alison Ross, in the Clockwise Cat, May 2010

JOHN Z. GUZLOWSKI: "Maja Trochimczyk's Chopin with Cherries... is a masterful celebration of this composer and the complex range of emotions, impressions, memories, and dreams his music evokes... Finally, let me say that I cannot remember reading an anthology of poems centered around a single-theme that I liked more. The poems Maja Trochimczyk has gathered together to commemorate Chopin's 200th birthday are inspiring and exhilarating, as I have already noted, and - I don't know how else to say this - fun to read." John Z. Guzlowski in The Cosmopolitan Review 2 no. 1 (Spring 2010).


Poetry Readings and Conferences

  • Annual Meeting of the Polish-American Historical Association, Boston, Mass., January 8, 2011. Maja Trochimczyk’s paper "The Image of Chopin's Death in Art and Poetry".
  • Semi-Annual Conference of the Polish American Historical Association, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, June 26, 2010. Maja Trochimczyk’s paper "Chopin in Polish-American Poetry: Lost Country, Found Beauty." Publication forthcoming in the Polish American Studies.
  • Chopin with Cherries IV - Anthology Reading at Loyola University Chicago, part of Chopin & Paderewski 2010 Conference, November 13, 2010.

    With poets: Sharon Chmielarz, Gretchen Fletcher, George Bodmer, Ben Humphrey, Katrin Talbot and Maja Trochimczyk. The photographs from the event are posted in a Picasa Web Album.
  • Chopin Lecture, Recital and Poetry Reading at Polish Fest LA, Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, September 25, 2010, at 1 p.m. - featuring poets Maja Trochimczyk, Mira N. Mataric, Susan Rogers, and Lois P. Jones.
  • Chopin with Cherries III - Anthology Reading at Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA, September 12, 2010 at 3 p.m.

    With Maja Trochimczyk, anthology editor, Rick Wilson, flute (historical crystal glass and ivory flutes) and sixteen poets, appearing in person: Marlene Hitt, Georgia Jones-Davis, Lois P. Jones, Marie Lecrivain, R. Romea Luminarias, Radomir Vojtech Luza, Rick Lupert, Mira Matric, Ruth Nolan, Marilyn Robertson, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Taoli Ambika Talwar, Maja Trochimczyk, Kathabela Wilson, and Erika Wilk. A full program with the list of poems and the poets' biographies was included in this blog: Chopin at Beyond Baroque and photos are on Chopin III Picasa Web Album.
  • Chopin with Cherries II: An Evening of Poetry and Music. Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles, CA, Saturday, May 8, 2010, 7 p.m. Chopin recital by eminent Polish pianist Dr. Wojciech Kocyan with readings by poets from around the country.

    The poetry reading and concert by pianist Wojciech Kocyan was hosted by Maja Trochimczyk, editor and featured 14 poets: Gretchen Fletcher, Millicent Borges Accardi, Georgia Jones-Davis, Donna Emerson, Erika Wilk, Laura Mays Hoopes, Mira Mataric, Maja Trochimczyk, Kath Abela Wilson, Kathi Stafford, Marian Kaplun Shapiro, Beata Pozniak Daniels, Taoli-Ambika Talwar, and Susan Rogers. The festivities ended with a polonaise to Chopin's music, led by Edward Hoffman, choreographer of the Krakusy Polish Folk Dance Ensemble. See photos at Picasa Chopin II Photo Album and the PDF flyer with more information: Chopin at the Ruskin.
  • Chopin with Cherries I: An Evening of Poetry and Music. South Pasadena Library Auditorium, 1115 El Centro St., South' Pasadena, CA, 91030; Sunday, April 11, 2010, 6 p.m.

    Reading by 20 poets with Chopin's music played by American pianist, Dr. Neal Galanter and by students of Prof. Roza Yoder from Azusa Pacific University. pianists Kristi Chiou, Stacy Chiou, and Anna Nizghorodtseva, Dr. Neil Galanter and Sue Zhou, poets Mira N. Mataric, Erika Wilk, Lois P. Jones, Kathabela Wilson, Marilyn N. Robertson, Rick Lupert, and Radomir Luza poet Russell Salamon,. Maja Trochimczyk, Susan Rogers, artist Monique Lehman, Peggy Castro. Photo album from this event is at Chopin I: Picasa Web Album.
  • Concert of Romantic Music, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA, Tuesday, Feburary 16, 2010, 7:30p.m. With Roza Yoder, Director. Piano music performed by APU students. Readings from Chopin with Cherries by Maja Trochimczyk and local poets. Erika Wilk, Mira Mataric, Susan Rogers, Taoli-Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk
  • Bicentennial Chopin Celebration, Colburn School of Music, Los Angeles, CA, Saturday, February 27, 2010, 8 p.m. With eminent pianists John Perry, Wojciech Kocyan and actress Jane Kaczmarek reading poems from Chopin with Cherries. Presented by the Paderewski Music Society and Helena Modjeska Polish Arts and Culture Club. All proceeds will be used to support the first International Paderewski Piano Competition in California, May 2010.
  • 3rd International Chopin Congress, Warsaw, Poland, February 25 - March 1, 2010. Congress organized by Fryderyk Chopin Institute and the University of Warsaw.

    The official presentation of the book during Maja Trochimczyk's paper "From 'Eternal Eloquence' to 'What Does he Know' - Images of Chopin in English-language Poetry." University of Warsaw Old Library, Warszawa, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, Poland. See pictures in the Chopin Congress Photo Album.
  • Chopin Salon for Poets on Site – Pasadena, August 1, 2009. Maja Trochimczyk’s presentation at Kathabela and Rick Wilson’s Poetry Salon for poets and friends of poets interested in Chopin’s image and place in Polish history, including reading of several poems from the first round of submissions.
  • 67th Annual Meeting of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, Jersey City, New Jersey, June 2009. Maja Trochimczyk’s paper "From 'Eternal Eloquence' to 'What Does He Know?' - Images of Chopin in English-language Poetry."


    Poetry Reprints

    Poems from the Chopin with Cherries anthology were reprinted in this blog, but also in other venues:
  • Wyspa Kwartalnik Literacki, A Polish literary quarterly (December 2010) featured a translation of "Rubies and Sapphires" by Kerri Buckley, by a Polish poet, Mira Kus ("Rubiny i szafiry").
  • The Cosmopolitan Review (February 2010) featured a selection of poems from the book, i.e., works by: Kerri Buckley, Ryan McLellan, Rick Lupert, Elizabeth Murawski, Ruth Nolan, William Pillin, Katrin Talbot, and Maja Trochimczyk.


    ... and our Readers

    Gifts of Chopin with Cherries were received by, among others:
  • Lech Walesa, Polish politician, former Solidarity leader and winner of Nobel Peace Prize, got his copy of Chopin with Cherries on December 17, 2010; with a photo to prove it.
  • Jane Kaczmarek, Polish-American actress who read a selection of poems at Chopin Bicentennial Celebration in February 2010 received her copy during the First International Paderewski Competition in Los Angeles, June 2010.
  • The Polish Museum of America, a gift accepted by Ms. Malgorzata Kot, Librarian, during the Loyola University Chicago Chopin & Paderewski Conference in November 2010.