State Senator Anthony Portantino represents California’s 25th State Senate District, which stretches along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland. Priorities for Senator Portantino during his time in office have encompassed support for public education, awareness and treatment of mental health, and sensible gun control. His accomplishments include increasing funding for special education, banning the open carry of handguns on Main Street California and raising the purchase age of firearms to 21, and placing the suicide hotline number on student identification cards. In addition, his efforts have created a science fellowship in the State Capitol and established a unique partnership between the University of California and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is a strong supporter of the arts and poetry and supported the 2018 Gathering of Poets Laureate with a poetry reading and an interview. He was called “a poet and a great friend of poetry,” at a 2019 gathering of the California State Poetry Society. We are honored to have the support of people in decision-making bodies, like Senator Portantino, who truly understand the vital place of the literary arts in uplifting and supporting those whose voices deserve our attention and whose words we need.
Ron Koertge grew up in an agricultural area in an old mining town in Illinois, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis, Missouri. He received a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from the University of Arizona. A prolific writer, Ron began publishing poetry in the sixties and seventies in such seminal magazines as Kayak, Poetry Now, and The Wormwood Review. His recent books include Yellow Moving Van (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), Olympusville (Red Hen Press, 2018), and Vampire Planet (Red Hen Press, 2016). In 2018 a film based on Ron’s prose poem “Negative Space,” created by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter, was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Animated Short Film. Ron was a faculty member for more than 35 years at Pasadena City College. He also taught in the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Luis J. Rodriguez has written 16 multi-genre books, including the bestselling memoir Always Running and its sequel It Calls You Back. He founded Tia Chucha Press over thirty years ago. For forty years he has taught, given poetry readings, talks, and conducted healing circles in prisons, jails, and juvenile lockups. He has spoken at festivals, conferences, libraries, bookstores, schools, colleges, universities, migrant camps, homeless shelters, and Native American reservations throughout the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Japan. Twenty years ago, Luis and his wife Trini founded San Fernando Valley’s Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore. Luis and Trini also host the podcast “Hummingbird Cricket Hour.” From 2014-2016 he served as Los AngelesPoet Laureate. His last poetry book is Borrowed Bones. His newest book is From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys & Imaginings from a Native Xicanx Writer.
Pamela Shea is the ninth poet laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. Pam was raised in La Crescenta, studied at the University of Redlands, and has worked in the medical and fitness fields. 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 triumph and strife. Her work has been featured by Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble and choreographed by California Contemporary Ballet. She has participated in the Gathering of California’s Poets Laureate, Lit Crawl L.A., and the NEA Big Read of the Los Angeles Public Library; she also has read before the L.A. City Council and the U.S. Green Building Council of Los Angeles. Pam’s work has been published in the Cherita; Altadena Poetry Review; California Quarterly; Spectrum chapbooks; We Are Here Village Poets Anthology; Ribbons; ColoradoBoulevard.net; Foothills Relay for Life, the Movie; and Doctors, Poets & Other Healers.
“Poetry has always been in my blood,” claims Dorothy who has been writing poetry since her teenage years. In 1970, Dorothy graduated from San Fernando Valley State College earning a B.A. in English. That same year she started her career with the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Social Services, and retired after 34 years of public service. While married, raising twin boys, and managing a career, Dorothy published her first chapbook entitled The Sidewalk Gallery (1979). Other chapbooks followed including 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, former Sunland-Tujunga Poet Laureate. Over the last 15 years Dorothy has read her poetry in coffee shops, bookstores, and other venues including special church services. Also, her poems have appeared in various community publications.
Maja Trochimczyk, PhD, is a Polish American poet, music historian, photographer, and non-profit director. She is the author/editor of eight books on music and Polish culture, five poetry volumes and four anthologies, most recently We Are Here: Village Poets Anthology (with Marlene Hitt, 2020). A former poet laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, she is the founder of Moonrise Press, President of the California State Poetry Society, Managing Editor of the California Quarterly and Poetry Letter published by CSPS, and President of Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club, promoting Polish culture in California. Hundreds of her poems, articles and book chapters appeared in English, Polish, and in translations. She read papers at over 90 international conferences and received many grants and awards from Polish, Canadian and American institutions. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (2021) and the winner of the Creative Arts Prize from the Polish American Historical Association (2016).
Joe DeCenzo grew up in Los Angeles and cultivated his passion for literature while attending the Los Angeles City College Theater Academy. His love of rhyme and meter led to his composition of The Ballad of Alley and Hawk which celebrates the playfulness of words. It is a long form narrative poem he describes as Dr. Suess grows up and moves to prohibition era Chicago. After moving to Tujunga in 1998, he learned of the rich historic legacy of John McGroarty and the California State poet laureate program. As a Cultural Affairs Department grant recipient, he produced the Shouting Coyote Performing Arts Festivals from 2002-2006 which focused on drawing poets to larger and more public venues as well as introducing the widening diversity of Sunland-Tujunga to the wealth of artistry in the surrounding neighborhood. He currently works to maintain and promote the local poet laureate program. He also serves on the coordinating committee for Village Poets, a monthly public reading now in its 12th year.
Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and teaches college writing. She is an award-winning poet whose books include, In Defense of Objects (2009), O Dear Deer, (2011), This Too (2017), Fearn (2019) and the scholarly collection of essays, Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain (2000). Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, and Best of the Net. She lives with her human family, two Jack Russell terriers, and a small flock of chickens in the foothills east of Los Angeles, where she serves as the faculty editor of MORIA Literary Magazine at Woodbury University.
Kim Dower is the author of five collections of poetry: Air Kissing on Mars, “sensual and evocative . . . seamlessly combining humor and heartache,” (Los Angeles Times), Slice of Moon, “unexpected and sublime,” (“O” Magazine), Last Train to the Missing Planet, “poems that speak about the grey space between tragedy and tenderness, memory and loss, fragility and perseverance,” (Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco), the Gold Ippy Award winning Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave, and her latest, I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom, “Deftly constructed, inherently interesting, impressively insightful, thought-provoking, and truly memorable” (Midwest Book Reviews). Dower’s poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” as well as in many journals and anthologies. She teaches poetry workshops for Antioch University, UCLA Extension, West Hollywood Library, and the Hollywood LGBT Senior Center.
Elsa S. Frausto was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in the Foothills with her family for over twenty years. She was the coordinator and host for Camelback Readings held at the Sunland-Tujunga Library. Elsa is a member of the Chuparosa Writers, volunteers at the Friends of the Library Bookstore and at the Noise Within Theater (Pasadena) and is poetry editor and translator for the Spanish language literary magazine la-luciernaga.com. Her work has appeared in many local and international publications, among them Porte des Poetes, Speechlessthemagazine, Poem of the Month in Poets at Work, Badlands, Meditations on Divine Names, and anthologies by Poets on Site.