Friday, August 29, 2014

Poem: The House at Dusk

House at Dusk, by Edward Hopper, 1935

The House at Dusk

How lonely the empty house gets at dusk.
Sometimes I imagine you are still here.
I think I see you standing in the doorway
or sitting in a chair, the you the way you were
before you got too sick to walk, too sick
to be left alone.

You return to me, young and fit,
you climbing the ladder to paint the house
or swimming laps in the town pool
or riding your bike, you going with me
to the theater or movies or museums.
The old age I had imagined for us
was not this one where you are a ghost
in the house we lived in for forty-seven years,
you the shadow in every corner,
you the person I turn to in our mahogany bed
only to find that I hold in my arms only air.

This poem was recently posted at CityLitRag. The submission window for CityLitRag opens again on August 30.

Maria's Official Site is at and her books are available at

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Writing Your Way Home Poetry Retreat Celebrates 22 Years

Poets Laura Boss and Maria Mazziotti Gillan celebrate 22 years of their Poetry Weekends this year. The "Writing Your Way Home Poetry Weekend Intensive" is held twice a year at the St. Marguerite's Retreat House in Mendham, NJ.

The 2014 winter retreat will be held Friday evening through Sunday, December 12, 13, and 14.

This is an excellent opportunity to make space and time to focus totally on your writing in a serene and setting away from the pressures and distractions of daily life. You will find support and encouragement with workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life and from fellow workshop poets.

This writing intensive is open to all writers over the age of 18. Fifteen professional development credit hours are available for teachers.

St. Marguerite's Retreat House (located at the convent of Saint John the Baptist, 82 West Main Street in Mendham, NJ)  is set away from the pressures and distractions of daily life on 93 acres of wooded land with pathways (including a labyrinth) that lend themselves to the serene contemplation of nature and nurturing of your creative spirit.

The workshops will concentrate on "writing your way home" and the way writing can save our stories and our lives. 

Maria and Laura view this weekend as a retreat from the noise and bustle of daily life and see this retreat as both a spiritual and creative break from our usual lives.

The setting certainly allows us to take some time to look at life in a new light, to listen for our own voices, create a stillness, in a quiet community of contemplation that welcomes the muse.

Participants arrive before 6 PM on Friday evening, have dinner and settle into their own rooms. That evening, participants will be led into creating new work and after each of the weekend workshop sessions, participants have the opportunity to read their work in the group.

After Saturday breakfast, participants will move into two groups for morning workshops and writing session. There will be free time for socializing and exploring the grounds before lunch. In the afternoon, a third round of writing workshops will take place, followed by time to write.

Each participant will have a chance to sign up in advance with Maria or Laura for one-on-one help with revision.

After dinner on Saturday evening, participants will be invited to read their poems to the group, and the faculty will lead another workshop session on how to get published.

After Sunday breakfast, a fifth and final workshop will be followed by a concluding reading by all participants. The weekend will close with a lunch and last opportunity for socializing and networking.

Participants should bring papers, pens, and the willingness to take some risks. You may also bring previously-written work for one-on-one sessions and for the readings.

The retreat is from Friday evening through Sunday – December 12, 13, and 14, 2014.
St. Marguerite’s is one hour from NYC and accessible by public transportation.
Cost: $425 for room, meals and all workshops.

Late registration will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Enrollment is limited and we already have registrants, so please sign up as soon as possible.
For additional information, call 973-684-6555 or email
Mail check payable to Maria Mazziotti Gillan to: 40 Post Ave., Hawthorne, NJ 07506 along with your name, address, a day and night phone number and your email.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall & Spring Poetry Workshops for Adults Over 50

The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College is offering poetry workshops for adults 50 and over for this fall and spring 2015.

This workshop series is open to adults 50 and over and the workshops will be led by poets Laura Boss and Maria Mazziotti Gillan. The cost is $60 for 4 sessions.

The workshops will be held at PCCC's Wanaque Academic Center (500 Union Avenue, Wanaque, NJ 07420)

The fall 2014 workshops will be October 2, 9, 16, and 30 from 1pm - 3pm.

The spring 2015 workshops will be March 5, 12, 26 and April 9.

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: The Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt
(University of Akron, 2014). Her poems have appeared in The New York Times.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan 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 The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets (Cat in the Sun Books, 2014), Ancestors’ Song (Bordighera Press, 2013, Writing Poetry To Save Your Life: How To Find The Courage To Tell Your Stories, and The Silence in an Empty House (NYQ Books, 2013), and with her daughter, she is co-editor of four anthologies.

You may download a printable PDF of the workshop brochure and registration form which can be mailed along with payment to: The Poetry Center at PCCC, One College Blvd., Paterson, NJ 07505-1179.

For questions, contact the Center at 973-684-6555 or email

The Poetry Center was awarded a Citation of Excellence 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, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Maria Gillan on the Web

Founded in 1979 by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, the PatersonLiteraryReview began as a mimeographed publication and, in the more than three decades since, it has become one of the most well-respected resources for poetry in the country.

The following year, Maria established the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and she has been the executive director of the Center ever since.

The mission of the Poetry Center is to provide poetry events and workshops to a diverse audience and to provide opportunities for poets through offering contests, awards, a journal, anthologies, reference materials, and conferences. It promotes poets and poetry and to bring poetry to a wider and more diverse audience throughout the United States and the world.

Over the years, the Poetry Center has been accorded international recognition for many of its activities including the Distinguished Poets Series, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Paterson Fiction Prize, and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. The annual Paterson Literary Review, the monthly New Jersey Poetry Calendar and the New Jersey Poetry Resource Book are also published by the Poetry Center.

Besides this blog, please visit Maria Gillan's official site at

Maria's many books are available at  

Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection,  The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.

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, appears in her collection, Where I Come From

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