Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Embroidered Stories - a book presentation

Maria Gillan will be participating in a book presentation at Casa Italiana in New York City on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 6pm.

For Italian immigrants and their descendants, needlework represents a marker of identity, a cultural touchstone as powerful as pasta and Neapolitan music. The lives of these Italian women are woven into the artifacts of memory and imagination: embroidering, sewing, knitting, and crocheting.

Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora (University Press of Mississippi, 2014), is an exciting anthology including academic essays and creative works from Argentina, Australia, Canada, and the United States. The entire collection explores multiple interpretations of the relationships between needlework and immigration from a transnational perspective during the period of the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century.

Editors Edvige Giunta and Joseph Sciorra will be joined at the event by book contributors Phyllis Capello, JoAnn Cavallo, Paola Corso, Elisa D'Arrigo, Marisa Frasca, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Lucia Grillo, Maria Grillo, Karen Guancione, Joanna Clapps Herman, Annie Lanzillotto, Anne Marie Macari, and Maria Terrone. A book signing will follow the presentation.

Nota Bene: This event will be held at:
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, NYU
24 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 998-8739

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Martín Espada and Bunkong Tuon to Read in Paterson

The Distinguished Poets Series of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College is presenting a poetry reading by Martín Espada and Bunkong Tuon at 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Born a few years before the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia in 1975, Bunkong Tuon remembered very little of the atrocities in Cambodia. In 1979, he escaped with his grandmother and extended family to live in refugee camps in Thailand before settling in Malden, Massachusetts in the 1980s. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Quarterly, The Paterson Literary Review, Chiron Review, The Más Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy, Numéro Cinq, Misfit Magazine,and The Massachusetts Review, among others. He is an associate professor of English at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1957, Martín Espada is the author of more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. A former tenant lawyer in the Greater Boston’s Latino community,, he received a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a JD from Northeastern University. His first poetry collection, The Immigrant Iceboy’s Bolero was published in 1982 and his latest is Vivas to Those Who Have FailedThe Republic of Poetry received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

The program is free and an open reading follows.

Workshops, conducted by Espada and Tuon, are 10 a.m. to noon (pre-registration required; fee

All programming is at the Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church St., Paterson. Parking available at the PCCC lot on College Blvd., between Memorial Dr. and Church St.

Formore information, call (973) 684-6555 or visit

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving and The Place We Call Home

“He's plotting a way to journey home at last; he's never at a loss.” (Odyssey, Book 1, l. 237)

We reprise this post about a special holiday episode of the Poetry Spoken Here podcast that examines poetry's long relationship with the themes of family and home.

The program opens with a reflection on how those themes are used in Homer's Odyssey, the second oldest work in the western canon. At around the 8 minute mark, you'll hear Charlie Rossiter's conversation with Mazziotti Gillan about her work reflecting on her upbringing in an immigrant family.

Here is a poem of Maria's from The Place I Call Home, that reminds us of the many things we forget to be thankful for every day - and we might remember on this day.

Forgetting to Give Thanks

I watch the public TV program on Rwanda
and the water they are lifting out of polluted
wells to drink, though there’s a cholera epidemic.
It is the only water they have and they draw
a pail of it out of the well. The water is brown
and thick and muddy. The emaciated man
walks away with the pail of water.
Several children walk behind him.
They stop at the side of the road
and the man lets each of them drink
from a battered metal dipper.

In my house I forget to give thanks
for the clean water that pours
out of the kitchen faucet, the water
in the bathrooms, hot and plentiful,
for long showers and baths.

We forget how much of the world does not have
what we have and even I forget, I who grew up
in an apartment heated by a coal stove. The only warm
place was at the kitchen table set up close to the stove.
The bedrooms were frigid. My mother would warm
the beds with bricks she heated in the oven
and then we’d rush in and jump into bed.

The house had no insulation and no storm windows,
so the windows would develop a coating of ice
in patterns I thought were beautiful. We bathed in water
that my mother heated on the stove. My mother washed
our clothes on a tin washboard.

Today, with my house full of appliances—stove,
refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine,
dryer, air conditioners, TV’s and as much
hot or cold water as I want, I forget to be grateful,
and am only reminded for a minute when I see
those people in Rwanda who are drinking water
so filthy it will probably kill them. Or when I think
of my mother and all the work she did, carting
buckets of coal, stoking the fire, boiling water
to keep us warm.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan,  from  The Place I Call Home

The Poetry Spoken Here podcast home page

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Finding Ourselves in Poetry

Anna Citrino wrote on her blog, Poetry, Place, Pilgrimage, a post titled "Finding Ourselves and the Poetry of Maria Mazziotti Gillan."

Readers of Maria's poetry know how important place is in her work.One of her poetry collections is titled The Place I Call Home. There are many of her poems that use or focus on the settings of memory. On this site, you can find some of her poems of place including ones about her childhood school and the factories of her hometown of Paterson, New Jersey.

Maria is still immersed in Paterson where she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and edits the Paterson Literary Review.

Maria emphasizes "place" in all of her writing workshops and in her teaching as Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY.

Anna Citrino identifies with Maria's poetry and uses it to teach poetry. But some of Anna's "places" are far away. She does volunteer work in teacher training at the Tibetan Children’s Village schools in India, as well as teachers in Ladakh, India.

Citrino can identify with Maria's writing as an Italian-American , but place goes further than that. She writes:
"Why are these poems important–poems about immigrants, about Italian immigrants? Italian immigrants were one of the largest groups of immigrants to the U.S., and yet their story isn’t well known. But more than this, these poems are important because most of us today, live with a mix of cultures and social class all around us. At the same time, there is so much misunderstanding between cultures and the social classes. The German poet, Rilke said, “Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other.” We need these poems because we need to learn how to see past the media representations of the “other” and find how to be human together. We need to discover how to find and be our true selves underneath the weight of what we see in advertisements, propaganda or other projections of what we think we should be. “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation,” says Rilke. This is the true work of our lives, whatever it is we do or occupy ourselves with, and this is what Gillan’s poems reveal."

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Maria Gillan with some students after a recent reading and workshop at Southern Connecticut University

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. 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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016