In the Washington Independent Review of Books, Grace Cavalieri writes a monthly feature that reviews books of and about poetry. Recently she selected as the BEST POETRY COLLECTION WITH PHOTOGRAPHS, Paterson Light and Shadow, poems by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, photographs by Mark Hillinghouse, with an introduction by Gerald Stern. The book was published by Serving House Books in 2017.
"When we think of Paterson, we don’t think of the movie first. We go right to Maria Mazziotti Gillan who put it on the map, building on what W.C. Williams left her.
She’s not only a poet of prolific excellence but the founder of a Poetry Center; poets-in-the-schools; mentoring workshops; classes; book awards; readings; literary magazines and print materials that showcase the poets of this generation. But let’s start with her poetry.
At the Dodge Foundation Festival in (circa) mid-1980s, I heard her read the poem “Public School No. 18: Paterson NJ,” and I was in love. Since then I’ve never missed a word she’s written or a portrait she’s painted.
Now we have a multidimensional emotional experience of lasting value. History, yes, authenticity, yes, and art not calculated but true.
Photos reinforce the narrative in chilling black/white photography designed so that even color can’t distort reality. Every page is exhilaration, bringing an American city from the margins to the center of our culture."
Grace Cavalieri has written 16 books of poems, and 26 produced plays. Her latest book is Cosa Farei Per Amore , translated from her book of poems in the voice of Mary Wollstonecraft, and What I Would Do For Love. She holds the 1993 Allen Ginsberg Award for poetry, the Pen Syndicated Fiction Award, the Bordighera Poetry Award, the Columbia Award, a CPB Silver Medal among others. She is also the 2013 recipient of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs George Garrett Award “for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and for her dedication to helping the next generation of writers find their way as artists and literary professionals.“ She is co-winner of the 2013 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She produces “The Poet and the Poem” from the Library of Congress for public radio.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter . Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is MariaGillan.com.