Paterson Light and Shadow (Serving House Books, 2017) tells stories in poetry and photography about Paterson, New Jersey, with poems by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, and fine art photos by Mark Hillringhouse, who together have spent a lifetime growing up, living and working in and around one of America’s most important historic industrial cities.
In her signature style, Gillan combines sublime moments with gritty detail when she writes about growing up as a working class Italian immigrant as in the lines from the poem "In the Still Photograph, Paterson, New Jersey, Circa 1950"
The rough feel of a washcloth
and Lifebuoy soap against my face,
the stiff, starched feel of my blouse,
the streets of Paterson, old and cracked,
the houses leaning together
like crooked teeth
Hillringhouse’s award-winning black and white Paterson photographs accompany each poem and resonate with the mood and feeling of Gillan’s writing in crushed velvety blacks and grayscale tones that evoke the moods of this city’s past and its urban decay.
This collection contains over thirty poems and thirty photographs that together explore the hallowed precincts of this once great industrial city, envisioned by Alexander Hamilton as the birthplace of manufacturing in a new nation, a city now home to countless immigrants who still struggle to work and to build lives and survive.
Between Frames, a collection of black and white photos and a collection of urban photos, Paterson, that also documents the city. His photography website is mhillringhouse.zenfolio.com
Praise for the Book
In Paterson Light and Shadow, Maria Mazziotti Gillan writes her beloved city with transforming courage: In the city of dreams no one dies, she says, all the while we witness the lives of immigrants—her father who worked at the Royle Machine Shop and swam the Passaic River, the daily poverty and relentless spirit of the dreamers of Paterson. These fierce and lovely poems speak to the wonderful photographs of Mark Hillringhouse as she sings the road back to the 17th Street kitchen with its big black coal stove. No one writes with the heart and soul of Mazziotti Gillan—from the depths of loss to the still shimmering happiness.
— Jan Beatty
Paterson Light and Shadow is a fascinating collaboration between poet Maria Gillan and photographer Mark Hillringhouse. Maria Gillan’s poems evoke the warmth of a childhood in the home and neighborhood created by Italian immigrants. Outside in the WASP world at school, it was a colder place where all that made her life sweet at home made her ostracized and demeaned.These poems and photographs also show the transformation, typical of so many American cities, from bustling hub of manufacturing with a lively downtown to a shell marked by decay and unemployment. Gillan gives voice to a past generation of the city and current desolation.
— Marge Piercy
This partnership—the alliance of the two of them, Maria and Mark—is seamless and powerful. This is an amazing book.
— Gerald Stern