Monday, March 20, 2017

Maria Mazziotti Gillan: Where I Come From


Maria Mazziotti Gillan was recently visited in her Paterson office at the Poetry Center at PCCC by journalist and poet Maria Lisella. Not surprisingly, interviewer Maria found interviewee Maria working on a new poem.

Lisella is the sixth Poet Laureate of Queens, NY, where 60 percent of the borough’s inhabitants were born outside the U.S. and where 139 languages are spoken. The interview explored some of the background that powers much of Gillan's poetry and migyt be summed up with the title of one of her poetry collections: Where I Come From.

The interview appears on the Italian cultural website Bridge Puglia USA and some of Gillan's responses are excerpted here.

"I published my first piece when I was 10 and it appeared in St. Anthony’s Messenger. I remember declaring to my family that I planned to be a poet.

My family was aghast – it was not a practical decision. I did pursue 'practical work' in an office, but I thought I would die. It took me time and a smart professor to counsel me to stop imitating the writing of others and find my own voice, it opened a new world to me. Teaching opened that avenue, too.

Being with my mother’s family in Cilento, my cousins were so proud I made a life out of poetry. The town had a parade and translated my work into Italian. Young people read it out loud.

I am competitive with myself. And I am full of ideas for more books, for anthologies. As soon as I send a poem to one journal, if it is rejected, I send it to another. I want my work to be read.

The social markers are strong in America. Coming from where I came from –a coal stove in the kitchen, no living room, we never had a sense of how little we had. TV changed all that and made us aware of affluence for the first time.

I may be rooted in my Italian American background but I hope my work transcends that. I grew up in the 40s, a tumultuous time. Immigrants from Italy, particularly from Southern Italy, were despised and seen as low-life people. Factories had signs saying “No Italians or dogs need apply.”

There was a lot of prejudice and when the U.S. went to war with Italy, many Italians tried to hide their backgrounds by changing their names. I find the current attacks on immigrants very frightening and malicious and not so different from the past."

In her craft book, Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to find the Courage to Tell Your Stories, Maria Gillan offers that rare gift that was given to her.  “What I hope to accomplish in this book is to give writing prompts that will help you to get past all the outside influences that keep you from believing in yourself and in your ability to write.”


The full interview is available at www.bridgepugliausa.it



Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 19 Poetic Celebration of Jewish and Italian Heritage


Maria Mazziotti Gillan will be reading this Sunday along with poets Yehoshua November, Carol V. Davis, Maria Lisella and Baruch November in A Poetic Celebration of Jewish and Italian Heritage. This event featuring poets of Jewish and Italian heritage is March 19 at 6 PM at The Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street in New York.

In an article about poet Yehoshua November, it explains part of the connectedness of this reading's lineup:
When November was growing up, his father, a physician, would play the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen at home, and Yehoshua was particularly attracted to Cohen’s poetry, with its view of modern situations as mythical and mystical. In college, at SUNY Binghamton, he was encouraged by several professors in the English department including Maria Mazziotti Gillan. The daughter of Italian-American immigrants who wrote about growing up in the tenements of Patterson, N.J., Gillan pushed him to write about being Jewish, to find the universal in the particular.



Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reading With the 2016 Paterson Poetry Prize Winner & Finalists

The Distinguished Poets Series of the Poetry Center at PCCC
presents the 2016 Paterson Poetry Prize Winner & Finalists
on Saturday, April 1 at 1 PM at the Poetry Center in Paterson, NJ.



Winner: Mark Doty, for Deep Lane (W. W. Norton and Company)


Maria Gillan and Mark Doty
Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane, Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, and My Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK.

He is also the author of three memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award and the Witter Byner Prize.

In 2011, Doty was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Doty is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University, and also teaches in NYU’s low-residency MFA program in Paris.

Finalists Reading at the Event:
Richard Michelson, More Money Than God (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA)
Patricia Spears Jones A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems (White Pine Press, Buffalo, NY)
Adele Kenny A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing at All (Welcome Rain Publishers, NY, NY)
Vivian Shipley Perennial (Negative Capability Press, Mobile, AL)

Other Finalists:
Reginald Dwayne Betts, Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, New York, NY)
Tony Hoagland, Application for Release from the Dream (Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, MN),

Workshops with Mark Doty or Richard Michelson will be held 10 am to 12 pm - Fee: $20, pre-registration is required www.poetrycenterpccc.com/workshops

For further information, contact Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Executive Director, Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, at (973) 684-6555.

For award rules and application forms visit our website at poetrycenterpccc.com

Monday, March 13, 2017

Students Reading Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Gillan's poetry reaches a wide audience of readers of all ages and backgrounds around the world.

Michelle Bulla, an English teacher in Monroe-Woodbury, NY, posted on Twitter that her students are reading the poetry of Maria Mazziotti Gillan.







Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.

Friday, March 10, 2017

2016 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards Reading



Winners and finalists of the 2016 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards read at the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, Hamilton Club Building, on Saturday, February 4, 2017.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Reading Celebrating Jewish and Italian Heritage - March 19



Maria Mazziotti Gillan will be reading along with poets Yehoshua November, Carol V. Davis, Maria Lisella and Baruch November in A Poetic Celebration of Jewish and Italian Heritage.

This event featuring poets of Jewish and Italian heritage will be held Sunday,  March 19 at 6 PM at The Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street in New York.