Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Poem: Forgetting to Give Thanks

Forgetting to Give Thanks

I watch the public TV program on Rwanda
and the water they are lifting out of polluted
wells to drink, though there’s a cholera epidemic.
It is the only water they have and they draw
a pail of it out of the well. The water is brown
and thick and muddy. The emaciated man
walks away with the pail of water.
Several children walk behind him.
They stop at the side of the road
and the man lets each of them drink
from a battered metal dipper.
In my house I forget to give thanks
for the clean water that pours
out of the kitchen faucet, the water
in the bathrooms, hot and plentiful,
for long showers and baths.
We forget how much of the world does not have
what we have and even I forget, I who grew up
in an apartment heated by a coal stove. The only warm
place was at the kitchen table set up close to the stove.
The bedrooms were frigid. My mother would warm
the beds with bricks she heated in the oven
and then we’d rush in and jump into bed.
The house had no insulation and no storm windows,
so the windows would develop a coating of ice
in patterns I thought were beautiful. We bathed in water
that my mother heated on the stove. My mother washed
our clothes on a tin washboard.
Today, with my house full of appliances—stove,
refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine,
dryer, air conditioners, TV’s and as much
hot or cold water as I want, I forget to be grateful,
and am only reminded for a minute when I see
those people in Rwanda who are drinking water
so filthy it will probably kill them. Or when I think
of my mother and all the work she did, carting
buckets of coal, stoking the fire, boiling water
to keep us warm.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan 

Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com.  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Martín Espada and Lauren Schmidt Will Read in Montclair December 4

The Montclair Monthly Poetry Series, coordinated by Laura Boss and Maria Mazziotti Gillan, is presenting a reading by Martín Espada and Lauren Schmidt on Thursday, December 4, 2014. This free event is at 7 p.m. at the Montclair Public Library (auditorium), 50 South Fullerton Ave., Montclair, NJ.

Called by Sandra Cisneros “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His forthcoming collection of poems is called The Leaves of El Moriviví (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball, The Republic of Poetry, Alabanza, A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen, Imagine the Angels of Bread and City of Coughing and Dead Radiators. His many honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston’s Latino community, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Lauren Schmidt is the author of three collections of poetry: Two Black Eyes and A Patch of Hair Missing; The Voodoo Doll Parade, selected for the Main Street Rag Author’s Choice Chapbook Series; and Psalms of the Dining Room:, a sequence of poems about her volunteer experience at a soup kitchen in Eugene, Oregon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Nimrod, PANK, New York Quarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, and The Progressive. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize, the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor, The Janet B. McCabe Prize for Poetry, and the Bellevue Literary Review’s Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Schmidt is an Instructor of Developmental English at Passaic County Community College and a Poet-in-the-Schools for Paterson Public Schools.

An open reading follows the featured readers.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Sean Thomas Dougherty and Joe Weil To Read and Offer Workshops in Paterson

The Distinguished Poets Series of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College is presenting a poetry reading by Sean Thomas Dougherty and Joe Weil on Saturday, December 6, 2014. The reading is at 1 p.m. at the historic Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church Street, in downtown Paterson. The program is free and an open reading follows.

Writing workshops, conducted by Dougherty and Weil, will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon at the same location. Pre-registration required; workshop fee $20. Call (973) 684-6555 or visit www.pccc.edu/poetry for more information.

Parking is available at the PCCC parking lot on College Blvd., between Memorial Drive and Church St

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of thirteen books including All You Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 (2014 BOA Editions) Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press) and Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line (2010 BOA Editions). He is the recipient of two Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry, an appearance in Best American Poetry 2014, and a US Fulbright Lectureship to the Balkans. Known for his electrifying performances he has performed at hundreds of venues across North America and Europe including the Lollapalooza Music Festival, South Carolina Literary Festival, the Old Dominion Literary Festival, the Dodge Poetry Festival, and across Albania and Macedonia where he appeared on national television. He has taught creative writing at Syracuse University, Penn State University, Case Western University, Chatham University and Cleveland State University.

Joe Weil is the award-winning author of five full length books of poetry, four chap books, and a CD of songs with Vic Ruggerio, leader of the Ska band, the Slackers. Weil has read on National public radio, as well as PBS. In 2008, a profile on Weil's life was done for NJPBS. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Review, North American Review, The Saranac Review, Rattle, Maggy, Paterson Literary Review, Lips and New York Quarterly, among others. He is currently assistant professor at Binghamton University. His most recent book of poems is The Great Grandmother Light, Poems New and Selected (New York Quarterly), and a collaborative book, West of Home (Blast Press) with his wife, poet Emily Vogel. The responsorial section of West of Home was performed in May 2014 at the KGB bar as a play by actors from N.Y.U. Weil lives in Binghamton with his wife and two small children, Clare and Gabriel.

The historic Hamilton Club Building is wheelchair accessible; large print materials and FM assistive listening devices available on request.

The Poetry Center at PCCC has been named a Distinguished Arts Project and is funded, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Maria Gillan Will Read and Offer A Poetry Workshop in Warwick, NY

Maria Mazziotti Gillan will bring her poetry to the Albert Wisner Library in Warwick, NY on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m.

The day before, Maria will lead a poetry workshops for teachers and elementary students at Sanfordville School.

Her reading is funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Many of her poems concern about growing up Italian-American in New Jersey and the joys and sorrows of family life.

She is the author or editor of 20 books, founder and executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, N.J., editor of the Paterson Literary Review and Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY.

Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com.  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Along With Her Pen, Maria Mazziotti Gillan Lifts Her Brush

Maria Gillan's newest book is a poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets, that pairs new poems with her own watercolor paintings.

Maria says that her artwork "comes from an instinctive place. In my watercolors and collages I try to do what I do in poetry—that is to let go, to allow the old wise woman who lives in my belly to take over."

In comparing the two forms of expression, she says that when writing a poem, "After the first few lines it is as though the pen moves across the page almost by itself, operating out of the subconscious mind. I don’t allow my conscious mind to control what is going on in the poem. For me, the same thing happens when I am painting or building a collage. Allowing my imagination to take over, gives me the freedom to paint people or birds or flowers as they exist in my mind rather than in reality."

Can you see the Maria we know from her poetry in the art? Probably not.

Readers used to Maria's tough poetic honesty and her own stated mission to "root my work in the details and specificity of ordinary life," may be surprised that in her paintings and collages she is not attempting to achieve realistic portrayals.

The people, birds and flowers that appear in the art is her attempt to capture energy and feeling. "I am trying to get the essence of the subject down on paper," she says "to convey joy or sadness, exuberance or loss."

You can view more of Maria's artwork in the new gallery on her website.

Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maria Gillan and Diane Di Prima

Maria and Diane in San Francisco -2014

During her book tour this past summer, Maria Gillan was able to visit her longtime friend Diane Di Prima in San Francisco. Di Prima was named Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2009.

Diane Di Prima has published more than 40 books. Her poetry collections include This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards (1958), the long poem Loba (1978, expanded 1998), and Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (2001). She is also the author of the short story collection Dinners and Nightmares (1960), the semi-autobiographical Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), and the memoir Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years (2001).

Diane has been awarded the National Poetry Association’s Lifetime Service Award and the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement and has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Committee on Poetry, the Lapis Foundation, and the Institute for Aesthetic Development. St. Lawrence University granted her an honorary doctorate.

Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems

Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com.  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maria Mazziotti Gillan To Read From Embroidered Stories Anthology

On November 13, 2014, Maria Mazziotti Gillan will read her poems “Donna Laura” and “Biancheria and My Mother” from the anthology, Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora, at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, 25 W. 43rd Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10036. The reading is at 6 pm and a number of the book’s contributors will participate in the presentation.

For Italian immigrants and their descendants, needlework represents a marker of identity, a cultural touchstone as powerful as pasta and Neapolitan music. Out of the artifacts of their memory and imagination, Italian immigrants and their descendants used embroidering, sewing, knitting, and crocheting to help define who they were and who they have become. This book is an interdisciplinary collection of creative work by authors of Italian origin and academic essays. The creative works from thirty-seven contributors include memoir, poetry, and visual arts while the collection as a whole explores a multitude of experiences about and approaches to needlework and immigration from a transnational perspective, spanning the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century.

At the center of the book, over thirty illustrations represent Italian immigrant women's needlework. The text reveals the many processes by which a simple object, or even the memory of that object, becomes something else through literary, visual, performance, ethnographic, or critical reimagining. While primarily concerned with interpretations of needlework rather than the needlework itself, the editors and contributors to Embroidered Stories remain mindful of its history and its associated cultural values, which Italian immigrants brought with them to the United States, Canada, Australia, and Argentina and passed on to their descendants.                    via via Amazon.com
An example of crochet – “the lace of poor people” –
made to imitate bobbin lace created for elite families.

Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com.  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.