The collection lets us step into the complex emotions of an immigrant childhood in Paterson, New Jersey, in the 1950s, her long marriage, her husband’s devastating illness, and her subsequent widowhood.
There is the warmth of a sheltering family in which she grew up, the deep love binding her and her husband, the unfolding of her life as a mother and grandmother, and, most of all, her resilient spirit.
And she reminds us that even when the bud of youthful naïveté flowers into the reality of an uncaring universe, we are home again when we recall the protection we felt within the warm sanctuary of family. These poems are beautiful crystalline narratives, sometimes exuberant and sometimes poignant, but always unflinchingly true.
|Cover Art: THE READER, Gouache, acrylic 18 x 24 ©2006|
by Linda Hillringhouse | www.hillringhouseart.com
“Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a Maria Gillan poem evokes a thousand pictures. Her masterful book, The Place I Call Home is more about redeeming the past—fi nding grace in the details— than about nostalgia. Unlike Peter Pan who utters, ‘I won’t grow up,’ Gillan shows how she grew into a poet of Proust-like dimensions—memories are contained in objects. She has the courage to delve into her past—making it come alive again—not as a passive viewer but as an active participant. It’s like she has created a large tapestry of her life—every thread is important. I’m man enough to admit that some of these poems made me cry.”
— Hal Sirowitz, Author of Mother Said, Former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY
"The Place I Call Home by Maria Mazziotti Gillan contains some of the most honest poems about marriage and family a reader is likely ever to come across. The craft is there, the well chosen word or phrase, but the power of these poems comes also from the truth in them that is moving and rare."
— Marge Piercy
She is the Founder/Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community
College in Paterson, NJ, and editor of the Paterson Literary Review. She is also Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY.
She has already published thirteen books of poetry, including The Weather of Old Seasons (Cross-Cultural Communications), and Where I Come From, Things My Mother Told Me, Italian Women in Black Dresses, and What We Pass On: Collected Poems 1980-2009 (Guernica Editions). With her daughter Jennifer, she is co-editor of four anthologies: Unsettling America, Identity Lessons, and Growing Up Ethnic in America (Penguin/Putnam) and Italian-American Writers on New Jersey (Rutgers).
NYQ Books™ was established in 2009 as an imprint of The New York Quarterly Foundation, Inc. Its mission is to augment the New York Quarterly poetry magazine by providing an additional venue for poets who are already published in the magazine.