Maria Mazziotti Gilan's book, Writing Poetry to Save Your life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories (Miroland/Guernica Editions, April 30, 2013) was chosen as one of the April Exemplars for National Poetry Month in The Washington Independent Review of Books. Below is the review of the book.
Maria Gillan is the most no nonsense poet and teacher writing today. She starts her book by saying, ‘Poems hide in a place deep inside of you thatI call a cave. The cave is guarded by a crow that whispers in your ear in the voice of every authority figure that you’ve ever encountered. The crow tells you all the reasons why you can’t write, shouldn't write. He tells you everything that’s wrong with you…’ This is the heart and soul of ensuing chapters, a veritable toolbox for creativity, and the mantra is courage, strength, truth. Gillan has practiced her trade with these merits; and she’s taught 1000’s of students the difference between artifice and experience. The book is as much about self-creation as it is liberating the word and her crisp direct advice— along with the full import of her sample poems—is a verbal triumph.
I know Gillan’s poetry well; and the rereading of her poems is a perfect mesh of her philosophy and wisdom. She proves that poets do not change to suit the time or fashion. They are not decorators and adorners. The truth of the poem is its interiority— the heart—wordplay will follow. The book provides pages and pages of prompts that work for every age group, up and through the professional. In essence, the book is a cautionary tale to all truthseekers: Be Careful of What You Do Not Write.