Thursday, February 16, 2017

Marie Howe and Richard Blanco Reading Their Poetry in Paterson

The Distinguished Poets Series of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) is presenting a reading by Marie Howe and Richard Blanco on Saturday, March 4.

The reading is at 1 p.m. at the historic Hamilton Club, 32 Church St., Paterson. The program is free and an open reading follows. Parking is available at the PCCC open faculty lot on College Blvd., between Memorial Dr. and Church St.

For more info call (973) 684-6555 or visit

Born in Rochester, New York, Marie Howe attended the University of Windsor, and earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she studied with Stanley Kunitz, whom she refers to as “my true teacher.”

Her first collection, The Good Thief (1988), was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Margaret Atwood, who praised Howe’s “poems of obsession that transcend their own dark roots.” In that collection, Howe’s oracular yet self-doubting speakers often voice their concerns through Biblical and mythical allusions. Kunitz, on selecting the book for the Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the American Academy of Poets, observed, “Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.”

In 1989, Howe’s brother John died of an AIDS-related illness. As Howe states in an AGNI interview, “John’s living and dying changed my aesthetic completely.” What the Living Do (1997), an elegy to John, was praised by Publishers Weekly as one of the five best poetry collections of the year. Stripping her poems of metaphor, Howe composed the collection as a transparent, accessible documentary of loss.

In The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), Howe distanced herself from the personal narrative and returned to, as she describes in the AGNI interview, her “obsess[ion] with the metaphysical, the spiritual dimensions of life as they present themselves in this world.” In these poems Howe “makes metaphor matter and material metaphysical,” according to Brenda Shaughnessy in Publishers Weekly.

Magdalene  imagines the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene as a woman who embodies the spiritual and sensual, alive in a contemporary landscape―hailing a cab, raising a child, listening to news on the radio. Between facing the traumas of her past and navigating daily life, the narrator of Magdalene yearns for the guidance of her spiritual teacher, a Christ figure, whose death she continues to grieve. Erotic, spirited, and searching for meaning, she is a woman striving to be the subject of her own life, fully human and alive to the sacred in the mortal world.

Howe has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, and NYU. She coedited (with Michael Klein) the essay anthology In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (1994). She has received fellowships from the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She was the Poet Laureate of New York State from 2012 to 2014. She lives in New York City.

Richard Blanco is one of the most beloved and influential poets and storytellers writing today. As a historic inaugural poet, public speaker, teacher and memoirist, he continues to invite audiences to reconnect to the heart of the human experience and all of its beautiful diversity. Through the power of his words and presence, Blanco taps into out unspoken dreams, hopes and frustrations. He captures the human spirit and condition, in all of its complexities, opening up our minds and encouraging us to see beyond our differences to share in the universal experience of our humanity. Just as Carl Sagan brought cosmology into our living rooms, Blanco is appealing to audiences everywhere and inspiring a new way to think and feel about the poetry of our day, making it an accessible, inclusive and transformative part of our everyday lives.

Blanco was born in Madrid in 1968, immigrating as an infant with his Cuban-exile family to the United States. He was raised and educated in Miami, earning a B.S. in civil engineering and a M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University. Blanco has been a practicing engineer, writer and poet since 1991. He has traveled extensively in his adult life, living and working throughout Europe and South America. He has taught at Georgetown University, American University, Writer’s Center and Central Connecticut State University. Blanco currently resides in the tranquil mountains of Bethel, Maine.

His books, in order of publication, are: City of a Hundred Fires (1998), Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005), Looking for the Gulf Motel (2012), One Today (2013), Boston Strong (2013), and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey (2013).

In 2013, Blanco was chosen to serve as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, following in the footsteps as such great writers as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Blanco performed One Today, an original poem he wrote for the occasion, becoming the youngest, first Latino, immigrant and openly gay writer to hold the honor.

Following the inauguration, he continued connecting communities through occasional poetry. He has written and performed occasional poems for such organizations as Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards and the Fragrance Awards. In May of 2013, Blanco wrote Boston Strong, an occasional poem he performed at the TD Boston Garden Benefit Concert and at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Following his performances, he released a limited edition Boston Strong chapbook, with all proceeds going to those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

Blanco continues to write and perform for audiences around the world. In addition to his occasional poetry and performances, he is currently working on a full-length memoir and is collaborating with renowned illustrator Dav Pilkey on a children’s book.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Poetry Reading: Maria Gillan and Laura Boss Feb. 18

On Saturday, February 18, MARIA MAZZIOTTI GILLAN and LAURA BOSS will be reading their poetry as part of the Poetry and Music at the ANT Bookstore and Café.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her 2016 publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and original art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at

Laura Boss' collections of poetry include Stripping,  and the award-winning On the Edge of the Hudson. Her book, Reports from the Front was nominated for an American Book Award. Arms: New and Selected Work was published by Guernica Editions in 1999, and Flashlight, also published by Guernica, is her most recent collection. Laura is the founder and Editor of Lips poetry magazine. Laura's official website is


The ANT Bookstore and Café is located at 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. The reading begins at 7 PM and is free and open to the public. An open reading will follow the featured poets.

Contact: James Gwyn, 973-777-2704 or

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mature Adults Poetry Workshop Series Starts March 2

The Mature Adults Workshop Series sponsored by the Poetry Center at PCCC is open to adults age 50 and over.

Award-winning poets, Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss, alternate leading each poetry workshop in the series. The focus is on writing narrative poetry, and sharing the work that you write in the workshop.

The workshops are held at the PCCC Wanaque Campus,

Pre-registration is required and the 2017 workshop series has a fee of $60 for the four sessions.

The spring sessions are March 2, 9, 23, 30.

To download registration form, go to

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Poetry Weekend Intensive March 24-26

English Manor House Poetry Weekend Intensive
with Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss
at St. Marguerite’s Retreat House
Convent of St. John the Baptist
Mendham, NJ

Friday, March 24 through Sunday, March 26, 2017
Friday evening through Sunday lunch.
Workshops, room, and meals all inclusive: $425

At this weekend writing retreat, poets will find:
• support and encouragement;
• stimulating writing exercises/prompts leading to the creation of new work;
• workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life;
• opportunities to read their work aloud to the group;
• a community of writers and networking opportunities.

This poetry weekend is open to all writers over the age of 18. For teachers and others, 15 professional development credits are available for attendance.

The weekend will be held at St Marguerite’s Retreat House, an English Manor House in Mendham, New Jersey that is situated on 79 acres of wooded land with pathways for exploring the property. This serene, beautiful setting is perfect for contemplating nature and nurturing the creative spirit on these weekends meant to give poets the space and time to focus on their writing away from the pressures and distractions of everyday life.

Participants will draft poems in the workshops and should bring paper or a notebook, pens, and the willingness to take risks. Please also bring previously-written work for one-on-one critiquing sessions  with the poets, and for group readings.
The weekend schedule:

Friday: Please arrive early because of the holiday weekend, between 2 pm and 5 pm, and settle into your rooms. Both Friday and Saturday before dinner, we will meet and greet at 5 pm in the lounge at the end of the hallway on the 1st floor (wine, cheese and crackers will be served). After dinner, we will break into two groups (about 12 to 15 in each), where we will have the opportunity to write poetry and share the work we’ve just written.

Saturday: After breakfast, we will break into two groups for morning workshops. Lunch will be served, followed by one afternoon workshop and either free time or a critiquing session with the poet faculty. Interested participants can sign up in advance (at the retreat house) and may bring previously written, typed work for feedback. After dinner, there will be an additional workshop.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, the two groups will come together and we will share our work—either something written on the weekend or previously.

Sunday: Breakfast will be followed by a workshop. A final reading by participants will serve as the “closing ceremony” to what we hope will be an inspiring and productive weekend. Lunch will offer another opportunity for socializing and networking.

We envision this intensive as a journey, allowing us to look at things differently, listen to our own inner voice, and create in stillness and community. This is an opportunity to retreat from the noise and busyness everyday life and invite the muse to inspire us. In the workshops, we will capture our stories and memories on paper, and discover how poetry can, so often, save our lives.

Fee: $425 is all-inclusive - for attendance Friday evening through Sunday lunch, including all workshops, room, and meals.
Deposit: February 20, 2017   $300
Balance:  by March 1, 2017   $125
*Early Bird Discount: deduct $25 if paid in full by March 1, 2017.
*Full refund will be given prior to March 7, 2017.
*Late registration will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.
Enrollment is limited, so please sign up early.

For more information, contact or send SASE to Maria Mazziotti Gillan, 40 Post Avenue, Hawthorne, NJ 07506 or call 1-973-684-6555.

Laura Boss and Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Laura Boss is a first-place winner of PSA’s Gordon Barber Poetry Contest. Founder and editor of Lips, she is the recipient of three NJSCA Poetry Fellowships, and in June 2011 received the first International Poetry Award at the International Poetry Festival in Swansea, Wales. Her books include: Reports from the Front (CCC), Arms: New and Selected Poems (Guernica) and Flashlight (Guernica). She recently co-edited with John Gallaher, Time Is a Toy: Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt (University of Akron, 2014). Her poems have appeared in The New York Times. Visit her website:

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. She is a recipient of the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP, the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, and the 2008 American Book Award for All That Lies Between Us (Guernica Editions). She is founder/executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, editor of the Paterson Literary Review, director of the Binghamton Center for Writers and the creative writing program, and professor of English at Binghamton University-SUNY. She has published 20 books, including Ancestors’ Song (Bordighera Press), The Silence in an Empty House (NYQ Books), and Girls in Chartreuse Jackets (Cat in the Sun Books), and with her daughter Jennifer, she is co-editor of four anthologies.  Her latest publications are the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter. Maria's official website is at

Friday, February 3, 2017

Poem: Grief

Maria Gillan reading at the Carriage House Poetry Series in 2016


I have been grieving for a long time now.
So many of those I loved gone.
I remain behind in a house
that's suddenly too big for me.
I hide out in the back room,
sit in my brown recliner,
the kind I've always hated
because it smacks of illness and old age.

Now, I joke I am having an affair with my chair
with its pillowy, velvet arms, the way
it welcomes me home, the way I fall asleep in it
as though I were a child and it were a cradle.

I have been grieving for a long time now,
wish I could call you all back
and, sometimes, I imagine you are with me,
in my dreams you seem so alive,
you come to comfort me,
though when I wake up, you have vanished.

But I am learning gratitude for another April,
the world in its radiance dancing into spring,
and I am here to greet it,
my arms open, my feet
doing their own quiet dance.

"Grief" appeared on and is included in Maria's collction What Blooms in Winter (2016).

Maria is the author of twenty-one books. Her collection of poems and her own artwork is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets  (2016). Her official website is at

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards Reading Feb. 4

The winners of the 2016 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards will read their poems this Saturday, February 4 at the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College (PCCC).

This free program will take place at 1:00 PM in the historic Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church Street, in downtown Paterson.

Free parking is available at the PCCC open lot at the corner of Church St. and College Blvd.

The winning readers include:


LINDA A. CRONIN (in memory of 1970-2016)

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