Maria Mazziotti Gillan's newest book is about the writing process rather than about the craft of writing. It can be used in classrooms, by writer's groups, or by an individual while writing at home or in a coffee shop. This book will encourage you to write, and in the process, will give you confidence, help you overcome writer's block, and silence the critical voice of the being Gillan calls "The Crow." It will jumpstart your creativity, giving you permission to use the power of words to save your life.
When I first started to consider putting together a book about writing poetry, I thought about how frightened people often are by the idea of poetry - writing it, reading it, feeling that they have anything to write about that anyone else would be interested in reading.
I realized that my whole life as a poet and teacher was dedicated to giving people a feeling that their lives, that what they have to say, is important. I believe we all have stories to tell, and that those stories are the basis for writing poems that reach across the barriers of age, ethnicity, gender, social class to connect with all that is human inside us.
I think of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech in which he said:
Writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
Writing Poetry To Save Your Life: How To Find The Courage To Tell Your Stories (Guernica Editions - MiroLand Imprint, 2013) combines Gillan's personal story about her journey as a writer with her suggestions for writers at all stages of development.
The voice in this book is the voice of a friend who sits with you in a warm kitchen sipping espresso or a cup of herbal tea, while offering support and encouragement. It is designed to help you find the stories you have to tell and the words to tell them. It is based on the belief that when you find the courage to explore your memories, you will find the source for evocative writing.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and editor of the Paterson Literary Review. She is also the Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY. She has published fifteen books of poetry. Her latest collection is The Place We Call Home.
She is the editor of the Paterson Literary Review. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The New York Times, Paddlefish, Connecticut River Review, Poetry Ireland, Connecticut Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Christian Science Monitor, LIPS, and Rattle, as well as in numerous other journals and anthologies.
Maria has won the 2008 Sheila Motton Award, Primo Nazionale Belmoro, the First Annual John Fante and Pietro di Donato Award, the Aniello Lauri Award, the May Sarton Award, the Fearing Houghton Award, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Poetry, and the American Literary Translators Association Award through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also received the New Jersey Governor's Award for Literary Achievement.