Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poem: Requiem for a Four-Year-Old

Requiem for a Four-Year-Old

Mark Warner was four years old
when he died in a Paterson slum.These days
even the people in his old neighborhood
can't remember his name.
"All I know is a little boy died here
. Nobody don't talk about it."
The words are spoken casually by a tall, slender woman
with orange-red nail polish. She gives her name
only as "Tee." No last name. On this block
of Broadway in Paterson, where used crack vials
are scattered at the curb and winos
hang out all day outside a liquor store,
people don't give their full names,
Tee is nineteen. She lives in apartment 6,
the same apartment where Mark Warner lived and died.
Standing on the rickety front stoop under a broken window,
Tee says: "Everybody here now wasn't here then."

"Sometimes I just give him a couple of slaps,"
Michael Thomas, Mark's stepfather says.
"But this time I hit him a while."
In the color pictures of Mark Warner,
Mark's lower lip is split
and large purple bruises distort most of his face
and body.
Four round scars, old cigarette burns, mark his buttocks.
The coroner believes the welts on his back
are from a whipping with a belt or a wire loop.
Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor,
Marilyn Zdobinski, shakes her head in disgust.
"These are the crimes
that people do not think happen," Zdobinski says.
"But people beat kids every day.

Last week, Mark's twenty-one-year-old mother,
Alvira Warner Thomas, stood silently
in an empty Passaic County Courtroom;
She was sentenced to four years probation
and ordered to seek counseling. Michael Thomas was sentenced to ten years
without parole. "He is very depressed,"
his lawyer says.


Based on an article in The Herald News, Paterson, NJ February 13, 1988, this poem by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, appear sin her collection, Where I Come From




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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Maria Gillan at the New York City Poetry Festival Saturday

Maria Mazziotti Gillan will be reading at the New York City Poetry Festival this summer.

The Festival is on July 26 & 27 from 11am - 6pm. and will take place on Governors Island, a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. The festival is free and open to the public.

The poetry line-up includes many readers grouped by the organizations that support poetry in the city. The Academy of American Poets sessions include Lynn Melnick, Kamilah Aisha Moon, & Danniel Schoonebeek. The Poetry Society of New York will be feauting Paul Muldoon & The Wayside Shrines, Mark Doty, Matthea Harvey, & Joyelle McSweeney.


At The Inkwell will be featuring Mark Hillringhouse, Maria Mazziotti Gillan & Loren Kleinman on Saturday, July 26 at 11 a.m.

At The Inkwell is a NYC-based organization created to help published authors promote their books through feature articles, book reviews and readings.





The launch of the Festival's new website is also the start of the annual Kickstarter campaign to support the festival. Help get the word out about the campaign. As always, the festival is free and open to the public, so more than 85% of the budget is based on donations and grants. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter and with your friends in the poetry world.



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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Poem: I Dream of My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother, English and Italian

Maria in San Mauro Cilento, Italy

I Dream of My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother

I imagine them walking down rocky paths
toward me, strong, Italian women returning
at dusk from fields where they worked all day
on farms built like steps up the sides
of steep mountains, graceful women carrying water
in terra cotta jugs on their heads.
What I know of these women, whom I never met,
I know from my mother, a few pictures
of my grandmother, standing at the doorway
of the fieldstone house in Santo Mauro,
the stories my mother told of them,
but I know them most of all from watching
my mother, her strong arms lifting sheets
out of the cold water in the wringer washer,
or from the way she stepped back,
wiping her hands on her homemade floursack apron,
and admired her jars of canned peaches
that glowed like amber in the dim cellar light.
I see those women in my mother
as she worked, grinning and happy,
in her garden that spilled its bounty into her arms.
She gave away baskets of peppers,
lettuce, eggplant, gave away bowls of pasts,
meatballs, zeppoli, loaves of homemade bread.
"It was a miracle," she said.
"The more I gave away, the more I had to give."
Now I see her in my daughter,
the same unending energy,
that quick mind,
that hand, open and extended to the world.
When I watch my daughter clean the kitchen counter,
watch her turn, laughing,
I remember my mother as she lay dying,
how she said of my daughter, "that Jennifer,
she's all the treasure you'll ever need."
I turn now, as my daughter turns,
and see my mother walking toward us
down crooked mountain paths,
behind her, all those women
dressed in black.



Ho Sognato Nonna E Bisnonna

Le immagino camminar giù per rocciosi sentieri
verso di me, forti, donne italiane che tornano
al tramonto da campi dov’ han lavorato tutto un giorno
in poderi fatti a forma di gradini su per fianchi
scoscesi di montagne, donne aggrazziate che portan acqua
in brocche di terracotta sul lor capo.
Quel ch’io so di queste donne, che non ho mai conosciuto,
lo so tramite la mamma, alcune fotografie
della nonna, in piedi sull’uscio
della sua casa di campagna a San Mauro,
le storie che di esse raccontava la mamma,

ma le conosco soprattutto al guardar
la mamma, le forti sue braccia sollevar le lenzuola
dall’acqua fredda della macchina,
o dal suo retrocedere,
asciugandosi le mani col grembiule casereccio di sacco da farina,
ammirando i suoi vasetti di pesche conservate
risplendenti come ambra alla luce fioca dello scantinato.

Vedo quelle donne nella mamma
lavorando, con ghigno e felice,
nell’orto che le colmava le braccia d’abbondanza.
Regalava cesti di peperoni,
lattuga, melanzane, regalava ciotole di pasta,
polpette, zeppole, pagnotte di pane fatto in casa.
“Era un miracolo,” diceva.
“Più ne davo, ancor di più avevo da darne.”
Or la vedo in mia figlia,
quella stessa inesauribile energia,
quella mente lesta,
quella mano, aperta e stesa al mondo.
Quando guardo mia figlia pulire il banco di cucina,

quando la vedo girarsi, sorridere,
ricordo la mamma moribonda,
come disse di mia figlia, “Quella Jennifer,
è tutto il tesoro di cui avrai mai bisogno.”

Or mi giro, mentre si gira mia figlia,
e vedo la mamma venir verso di noi
giù per sentieri tortuosi di montagna,
dietro di lei, tutte quelle donne
in veste nera.







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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maria Gillan Reading at the New York City Poetry Festival July 26


Maria Mazziotti Gillan will be reading her poetry at the New York City Poetry Festival  in a session for At The Inkwell that will also feature Mark Hillringhouse and Loren Kleinman on Saturday, July 26 at 11 a.m.  At The Inkwell is a NYC-based organization created to help published authors promote their books through feature articles, book reviews and readings.

The festival will be held on July 26 & 27 from 11 am - 6 pm. The event will take place on Governors Island, a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, that 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, and even closer to Brooklyn.

As always, the festival is free and open to the public, but more than 85% of the budget is based on donations and grants.

The poetry line-up includes many readers grouped by the organizations that support poetry in the city. The Academy of American Poets sessions include Lynn Melnick, Kamilah Aisha Moon, & Danniel Schoonebeek, The Poetry Society of New York will be feauting Paul Muldoon & The Wayside Shrines, Mark Doty, Matthea Harvey, & Joyelle McSweeney.

The Festival relies on support through its annual Kickstarter campaign, so help get the word out about the campaign and event. 


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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Poem: Women Speak of God

Women Speak of God

The women speak of God
as though they know him well.
He is a tame creature
they invite to tea.
He sits at their table,
his finger crooked in just the proper way.
They congratulate themselves on their catch, this guest
they are certain is theirs.

Watching them, a gray
mouse of doubt grows
as it feeds on me.

Yet I reach toward you, even
through this darkness, reach
knowing you are a cataclysm,
an apocalypse
which no small,
boundaried world,
clipped and safe,
could possibly contain.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Copyright 1983



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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Maria In Italy

Maria Gillan in Italy this month

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets




The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets combines Maria Mazziotti Gillan's unique gifts as a visual artist with her already internationally known and prize winning poetry.

Gillan's imagination, whimsical sense of line and vibrant use of colors shine forth through this beautiful picture book in a manner that both compliments and contrasts with the wonderful poems. While the poetry offers moving narratives of people and events taken directly from Gillan's life, the paintings are the flip side of that record--deeply joyous, even gleeful depictions of the artist's rich, sometimes dream like inner world. Readers of her poetry have long known Gillan as a fearless witness to the challenges of class, gender and ethnicity.

Her eyes have always been wide open to the sometimes difficult truths of her world. But in The Girl with The Chartreuse Jackets Maria Mazziotti Gillan has shown that her eyes are equally open to whimsy and to the dance of the imagination. This is a mature poet who has come full circle to meet a brilliant child/artist. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to know the full range of Maria Mazziotti Gillan as poet and as artist.





Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com and her books are available at Amazon.com