Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Distinguished Poets Series and Art Reception Saturday May14 in Paterson

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the Poetry Center at PCCC will offer workshops and readings by Erika Meitner and Joe Weil as part of the Distinguished Poets Series.

art by Mary Dajnak

While at the reading, enjoy the gallery show Gestures in Geometry, Mostly Drawings by Mary Dajnak which is on display in the Hamilton Club Gallery where the reading will be held. A reception will be held from noon - to 1 p.m. and the poetry readings will follow at 1:00 p.m. Mary Dajnak is a multimedia artist combining drawing and printmaking techniques in abstract works. She is a recipient of many grants, including a Fulbright Grant to the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland, and an individual artist grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Dajnak is a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Printmaking, and the University of Pennsylvania with an MFA in Printmaking and Painting. She currently is a professor in the Fine Arts Department at PCCC.

Erika Meitner is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and the author of six books, including Ideal Cities, a 2009 National Poetry series winner. Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, Meitner is a first-generation American—her father is from Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving the Holocaust. Meitner is currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech.

Joe Weil is the award-winning author of five full-length books of poetry and four chapbooks. Weil has read on National public radio and PBS, and, in 2008, a profile on Weil's life was done for NJPBS. He is currently Associate Professor at Binghamton University—SUNY. His most recent book of poems is The Great Grandmother Light, Poems new and selected (NYQ Books), and a collaborative book, West of Home (Blast Press) with his wife, the poet Emily Vogel.

The program is free and an open reading will follow the featured poets. 

Both events will take place at the historic Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church Street, in downtown Paterson. Free parking is available at the PCCC parking lot on College Blvd., between Memorial Drive and Church Street. 

The Hamilton Club Building is wheelchair accessible; large print materials and FM assistive listening devices available on request. The Poetry Center at PCCC is funded, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

The Clara Lemlich Awards for Social Activism

The Clara Lemlich Awards for Social Activism will be held virtually on Thursday, May 12, 2022. They celebrate the lives of five incredible women who’ve changed the world with their persistence, their vision, and their courage.

This Year’s honorees are 107-year-old civil rights activist and educator Dorothy Burnham, celebrated people's poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan, labor pioneer Dolores Huerta, community health pioneer Reverend Jeannette Phillips, and feminist women's health and abortion rights advocate Kathie Sarachild.

Founded in 2011, the Awards honor the memory of famed union activist Clara Lemlich by celebrating women today who have been working for the larger good all their lives.  They are organized by LaborArts and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition and generously sponsored by the 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Foundation, the Puffin Gallery for Social Activism at the Museum of the City of New York, and Tamiment Library, New York University.


Maria Mazziotti Gillan - known as the people's poet of Patterson NJ has done a remarkable job of bringing poetry to broad audiences.  She is an American Book Award recipient for All That Lies Between Us and the author of twenty-four books.  She founded the Poetry Center in Paterson, NJ, and is editor of the Paterson Literary Review and Professor Emerita of English and creative writing at Binghamton University- SUNY. Her newest poetry collection is When the Stars Were Still Visible.
Introduced by Bronx poet Tanya M. Beltran

Dorothy Burnham, human rights activist, educator and activist, celebrated her 107th (!) birthday on March 22, 2022.  Born in Brooklyn, she graduated from Brooklyn College with a biology degree.  With no jobs available in the Depression she and her future husband Louis Burnham moved to Birmingham to work in the civil rights with Paul Robeson in 1941.  Back in Brooklyn in the 1950s she worked as a lab tech, got a degree in microbiology and joined the faculty at Hostos Community College.  Widowed suddenly in 1960, she cared for their four children, worked to support the family, and continued to fight for equal rights for many decades.
Introduced by Rosslyn Wuchinich, president of Philadelphia's largest UNITE HERE local, representing food service workers

Dolores Huerta - Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.  Despite ethnic and gender bias, Huerta helped organize the 1965 Delano strike of 5,000 grape workers Later Huerta worked as a lobbyist to improve workers’ legislative representation. During the 1990s and 2000s, she worked to elect more Latinos and women to political office and has championed women’s issues.
Introduced by Amazon  Union organizer Natalie Monarrez

Reverend Jeannette J. Phillips has been a pioneer in securing access to health care for the disenfranchised for over five decades. In the early 1970s, the African American women of Peekskill, New York chose Rev. Phillips to lead their effort to start a community health center that would provide access to affordable health care. Through her extraordinary efforts, the first Sun River Health site, then called the Peekskill Area Ambulatory Health Care Center, was opened in 1975. Forty-five years later, that health center has grown into Hudson River Healthcare, the largest network of federally qualified community health centers in New York and third largest in the United States
Introduced by Jennifer Maine health care worker and community advocate

Kathie Sarachild - born in 1943, Kathie Amatniek adopted the matrilineal name form Kathie Sarachild in 1968 as part of her rising feminist consciousness. A civil rights activist during Freedom Summer in 1964 she worked to register voters in Mississippi.  A pioneer in the Women's Liberation Movement, she fought against restrictions on the lives of women, helping to found New York Radical Women in 1967, and Redstockings, which in 1969 hosted the first public speakout on abortion, shattering the taboo on the subject. A theoretician of the women's movement, Sarachild is known for her article, "Consciousness-Raising, A Radical Weapon."  She remains active with Redstockings as director of its Archives for Action.
Introduced by writer and reproductive rights activist Teddi Welch.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

In-person Poetry Workshops with Erika Meitner and Joe Weil

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the Poetry Center at PCCC will offer workshops and readings by Erika Meitner and Joe Weil as part of the Distinguished Poets Series.

Workshop registration is required along with a $20 fee
download the registration form
Time: 10 AM-Noon (Workshop) followed by readings from 1 PM – 3 PM.

For poet biographies, see

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Art and Influence of Maria Mazziotti Gillan - an exhibit

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is Bartle Professor and Professor Emerita of English and creative writing at Binghamton University-SUNY. The university has created an exhibit about Maria at the Bartle Library on campus to honor her work, her influence, and to draw attention to the Gillan Archive held in Special Collections. 

The University and Faculty Archives include faculty papers and books including those of professor and poet Maria Gillan. Much of the material in Special Collections can be located through the Library search tool and are available via the Special Collections webpage and ArchivesSpace.  

This exhibit highlights Maria Gillan’s poetry and visual art as well as her cultural work and influence both in and out of academia. This exhibit was also designed to bolster awareness of the Maria Mazziotti Gillan Archive housed in Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections.

The exhibit was put together by Kiel M. Gregory, a graduate student at Binghamton University and a Special Projects Coordinator. 
Kiel M. Gregory at the exhibit

Kiel said he was inspired by the "enormous generosity and guidance in the craft of poetry that Maria has shown me over the years."

"The exhibit is a way for me to use the resources and opportunities available to me at Binghamton University to repay and show reverence to a woman and a poet who has given so much to the world of literature. I hope viewers spend some time enjoying the curation of Gillan’s poetry displayed alongside the books from which they were excerpted. I also hope viewers are inspired to visit the library’s Special Collections department to view the Gillan Archive or any of the other archives and selections made available by the knowledgeable, helpful staff in Special Collections. Additionally, I incorporated a QR code that visitors can scan to submit their own poetry to the Paterson Literary Review, which is a literary journal edited by Maria and published by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, which she founded.

While this project was of my own design and labor, I did speak with Maria before I started work. My initial idea was to create an exhibit of Laura Boss’ poetry, as Laura had passed away just before I was accepted for graduate studies at Binghamton University. After some thought, I believed it would have been more appropriate to create an exhibit centered around Maria’s work, due to her standing as Professor Emerita and her strong connection to the university. Visitors of the exhibit will find, however, that I included a photograph of Maria and Laura, together, during one of their first reading tours in Italy."

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's new poetry collection is When the Stars Were Still Visible (2021). Other recent publications are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collections What Blooms in Winter and The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets which pairs her poems with her paintings. Maria's artist's website is and her poetry website is

Friday, April 22, 2022

Poetry Center Festival This Saturday in Paterson

Please register TODAY. The event is free and open to the public, but in order to properly plan for this event and due to limited seating, please register by sending an email to Smita Desai at the Poetry Center.

The Poetry Center Poetry Festival
Saturday, April 23, 2022
1 - 4 PM
in Paterson, New Jersey 
at the Poetry Center in the Hamilton Club

The Festival will have readings by four featured poets. Rosa Alcalá, Jan Beatty, Mahogany Browne, and Mark Doty will all be reading beginning at 1 PM. 

For workshop registration, bios of the poets, and full information including directions, go to