Friday, April 17, 2015

From a Long Conversation with Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria with Allen Ginsberg

Note: The following are 2 excerpts from a 26-page interview from Rattle #46, Winter 2015

GREEN: You talk a lot about being shy—
GILLAN: I’m still shy.
GREEN: Well, I don’t believe it.
GILLAN: I am, I am. Watch me at a party. I sit on the sofa, I sit in the corner, and I’m afraid to get up. I’m afraid to go get my food. I can’t leave that corner. [both laugh]
GREEN: But you’re so not shy one-on-one, or in front of a crowd.
GILLAN: Not in front of crowd, but in a social situation that little girl comes back. I hope I’m gonna lose her, but I don’t think I’m ever gonna lose her; she’s always there. She’s always ready to pop her head out and say, “Here I am, I’m still shy!”

[on the poetry in the schools program she created]

...we had 10,000 kids through this program last year.
GREEN: Just in Paterson?
GILLAN: Yes, well, it’s a big city, Paterson. They don’t have anything else, so they’re grateful. But who would have thought, I wanted to replicate my experience with South Pacific for some of these kids, and I thought I’d do a couple theater programs. I didn’t expect to have an elaborate poets-and-writers-in-the-schools program. It was a little idea I had, and it became a big idea. And I think, in a way, everything—that’s what you’ve done, you’ve taken a smallish thing and made it a big thing, and it’s fun to do that! And no one is ever going to stop you from doing that. Nothing’s gonna stop me from doing this; I figure I’ll die behind my desk. I hope they don’t get too upset when they find me there [laughs], but I’m not going to give up, ever. I try to say to the students, “If you’re only here for publishing, if you’re only in this because you want fame, then you’re in the wrong field. If you’re in this because you want an academic job that’s secure, then just go ahead. Just do that. But don’t think that you’re going to write a poem or a novel or a story that’s going to have a lasting effect in any way on anybody.” And isn’t that what we want to do? We want to write poems that people remember. And when we’re editing, we want to edit a magazine that touches people, that changes them, because that’s what literature can do, it can change you. Just like when those lights went on in South Pacific—my life changed. I just didn’t realize how beautiful language could be.

I have to say, Allen Ginsberg’s teacher was my teacher at East Side High School in Paterson, and I loved poetry. I just loved the way it sounded. I loved the music of it. And she did, too. She would call on me—I was in these Alpha classes, and all the kids with me were from these well-to-do families. There was a very wealthy section. The poorer kids were in commercial courses. They weren’t in the honors classes, that’s for sure. But I was in these honors classes, and I was so lucky to have her. Because she loved poetry as much as I loved poetry. And she knew I loved it. And she would call on me to read it. She didn’t call on these wealthy kids, she called on me. That was such a major thing for me. Because I loved it, and I read it like I loved it. I still love reading poetry out loud. I love it. I love the way it sounds. And I love all sorts of poetry read out loud. Except poetry that doesn’t make sense [laughs] to be honest, but I like to read poetry that has music to it. I love Dylan Thomas. I love Hopkins. I love T.S. Eliot. I often don’t understand T.S. Eliot, but I love the music of it. The music of it is so beautiful. I think when you write and when you edit that’s what you do. You fall in love with the way the language sounds. And if you’re only in it—there are so many careerists. Sometimes when I go to AWP it makes me sad, because they’re not really in love with literature. They’re not really in love with the language. They’re in love with getting a job where they can only teach two courses a semester. That doesn’t cut it. That doesn’t cut it in teaching either. You have to love being there. You have to want to change people’s lives.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dodge Poetry at NJPAC: Jersey Voices April 24


You don’t have to wait until 2016 for more Dodge Poetry at NJPAC. Three Friday evenings of poetry, music, dance, performance and conversation were scheduled this spring on March 6, April 24 & May 15, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J.

All events will be held at 8:00 pm. Tickets are only $15 each, or get the remaining 2 for $20 by calling the NJPAC Box Office at 1-888-GO-NJPAC or purchasing the Dodge Poetry Ticket Package here.

Robert Pinsky

Former U.S. Poet Laureate and Long Branch native Robert Pinsky and a sampler of New Jersey poets when NJPAC presents Dodge Poetry at NJPAC: Jersey Voices. Some of the poets who make the Garden State the Poetry State whose work will be covered include Renée Ashley, Cat Doty, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Kathleen Graber, Peter Murphy, James Richardson, Vincent Toro, BJ Ward, Joe Weil and Gretna Wilkinson. This evening of poetry is on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 8PM in The Chase Room.

"Poetry Like Bread: Poems of Political and Social Consciousness" ​​​​featuring Martín Espada & Patricia Smith, with discussion and Q&A will be held on May 15.


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey.

Visit www.njpac.org or call 888.GO.NJPAC for more information.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Paterson Poetry Prize Reading Features Billy Collins

Billy Collins - Photo by Suzannah Gilman
The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College annually gives the Paterson Poetry Prize for a book of poems, selected by the judges as the strongest collection of poems published in that year.


The winning book for 2014 is Billy Collins latest collection, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (Random House, New York, NY)

Billy Collins will be the featured reader and the event will include  several finalists for the 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize.

The reading will be Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 1 pm. at the Poetry Center at PCCC in the historic Hamilton Club Building (32 Church Street, Paterson, NJ)



Finalists

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Poem: The Cedar Keepsake Box

Let us launch National Poetry Month here with a poem by Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

You can also listen to Maria read the poem.





THE CEDAR KEEPSAKE BOX

What happened to the cedar keepsake box my mother bought
me the only time I ever went to the Jersey shore when I was
growing up? After she told me that I couldn’t have it, too
expensive, my mother bought it for me anyway.

Here, she said, turned away, my mother who loved all of us
with a devotion so complete we could have been gods or
saints to her. Though she never said it, each act of love a
demonstration. I loved that box, loved the aroma of cedar,

rising out of it when I opened it. I loved the feel of the
burnished wood under my fingers, the box that would keep my
tender secrets for years. So much in our lives is like that, we
love and love and love an object and then one day

it disappears, and we don’t notice as though there were a
canyon in the middle of the world where all those lost loves
go. It is like that with people too. So now, when I hear your
voice on the phone, that trembling, rasping it has become

or when you tell me you fell four times today and describe
each place where you fell and why or when you fumble for
words to explain some simple fact, I know you, too, are going
to vanish from my life, the feel of your skin under my

hand, the way your shaking hands reach for me, the same way
I still remember the sweet smell of cedar lifting into the air,
the smooth feel of that wooden box under my hand.


This poem first appeared in 2009 in Rattle #31


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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jersey Voices of Poetry April 24 at NJPAC

Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka and many other influential poets have called New Jersey home.

Come hear former U.S. Poet Laureate and Long Branch native Robert Pinsky and a sampler of New Jersey poets when NJPAC presents Dodge Poetry at NJPAC: Jersey Voices.

This evening will be with recognized poets from throughout New Jersey performing curated poetry readings Friday, April 24, 2015 at 8PM in The Chase Room.

Some of the poets who make the Garden State the Poetry State whose work will be covered include Renée Ashley, Cat Doty, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Kathleen Graber, Peter Murphy, James Richardson, Vincent Toro, BJ Ward, Joe Weil and Gretna Wilkinson.

"Poetry Like Bread: Poems of Political and Social Consciousness" ​​​​featuring Martín Espada & Patricia Smith, with discussion and Q&A will be held on May 15.

http://www.dodgepoetry.org/festival-events/dodge-poetry-events-at-njpac/
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey.

Visit www.njpac.org or call 888.GO.NJPAC for more information.


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


Monday, April 6, 2015

Rachel Wiley and Peter Thabit Jones Reading This Saturday in Paterson

The Distinguished Poets Series of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College is presenting a poetry reading by Rachel Wiley and Peter Thabit Jones on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

The reading is at 1 p.m. at the historic Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church Street, in downtown Paterson. The program is free; an open reading follows.

Parking is available at the PCCC parking lot on College Blvd., between Memorial Drive and Church St. Call (973) 684-6555 for more information.

Rachel Wiley's first full length collection of poems, Fat Girl Finishing School, was recently published by Timber Mouse Press. A native of Columbus, Ohio, she has a degree in Theatre Studies and has competed in multiple National Poetry Slam Competitions (she was a finalist twice in 2011). Wiley has also toured nationally at slam venues, colleges and festivals, and she was a featured poets at the 2014 Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival. Her website is at wileypoetry.weebly.com


Peter Thabit Jones was born in Wales and is the author of ten books. His work has been translated into over twenty languages. He is also the co-author, with Aeronwy Dylan, of the Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village , and Poems from a Cabin on Big Sur.He is the recipient of the Eric Gregory Award for Poetry (The Society of Authors, London), The Society of Authors Award, The Royal Literary Fund Award (London) and an Arts Council of Wales Award. He is the founder and editor of The Seventh Quarry Swansea Poetry Magazine, and The Seventh Quarry Publishing Press. His website is at peterthabitjones.com

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Maria Gillan Will Be Reading April 12 in Stratford, NJ

On Sunday, April 12th at 2 pm, Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Alfred Encarnacion will be reading as part of the celebration of National Poetry Month at the Stratford Public Library.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is a recipient of the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, and the 2008 American Book Award for her book, All That Lies Between Us. She is the Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and Director of the Creative Writing Program at at Binghamton University-SUNY. In addition, she’s the editor of The Paterson
Literary Review, as well as the ground-breaking anthology, Unsettling America. Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets. Maria's official site is at MariaGillan.com

Alfred Encarnacion has published poems in Florida Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, and Paterson Literary Review. His first collection of poetry, The Outskirts of Karma, appeared in 2012. He has taught writing at Temple University, and is currently the Director of the Stratford Public Library.

Please join us for an afternoon of poetry and meet the poets. A book signing will follow the readings, and refreshments will be served.

Stratford Public Library, 303 Union Ave., Stratford, NJ 08084 (directions)

All are welcome to attend. The event is free, but please pre-register at the Circulation Desk or call the library (856)783-0602.