Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Praise for 'When the Stars Were Still Visible'

"For the Stars Over Paterson" [a review by Dante Di Stefano published online at bestamericanpoetry.com of When the Stars Were Still Visible by Maria Mazziotti Gillan (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2021)

Excerpts from the review:

...Gillan’s poetry challenges fixed notions of American-ness by dramatizing the processes of remembrance so important to the construction of identity in traditional Italian American families. Mazziotti Gillan’s ultimate subject, therefore, is the remembering self.

In the title poem, Mazziotti Gillan writes:

So many memories swirl
like bits of color in a kaleidoscope,
and so impossible to explain.

To full expression’s kaleidoscopic impossibility, Mazziotti Gillan holds up hundreds of shards of specific memories as shining and tightly-packed as the silver balls her Zio Guillermo made from the foil inside his Camel cigarette packs.

The poems that stand out the most in When the Stars Were Still Visible are the ones that either fill in an as yet poetically underexamined corner of the poet’s autobiography or feel like a resolution to a part of the poet’s autobiography that has supplied the material for many earlier poems. “Taking my Brother to the Barber” provides an example of the former kind of poem. In this poem, a sibling relationship spanning more than seventy-five years spirals out in a bittersweet aria ending on the brother’s huge dark uncomplaining eyes. 

“My Son the Lawyer Quotes Dylan Thomas to Give Me Courage” provides an example of the latter kind of poem. In poems from previous volumes, such as “Is This the Way It Is Between Mothers and Sons?” from All that Lies Between Us, Mazziotti Gillan has explored the distance between an adult son and aging mother. However, in “My Son the Lawyer Quotes Dylan Thomas…” the distance collapses as the son reaches out to encourage his mother using the lines of the Welsh poet’s most famous villanelle. Just as many of her poems end in uplift, “My Son the Lawyer…” resolves (in uplift) the mother-son story arc that runs throughout her body of work.

...She is singing. As she says in the poem “Last May in San Mauro, Cilento, 2017”: "I hold the memories close to give me comfort when I am most afraid.” Reading her work, I feel less afraid of aging and what comes after. I feel her warmth. I hear her singing. I see the stars over Paterson. What else could a reader ask for?




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 MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Distinguished Poets Series: Virtual Reading with José Antonio Rodríguez

photo by Mark Roemisch


The Distinguished Poets Series is sponsoring a Virtual Reading via Zoom with José Antonio Rodríguez, Saturday, September 11, 2021, 2:30 – 3 PM (EST).

His writing explores the multiple borders between the margins and the center, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, including his background as a poor, queer, Mexican immigrant and first-gen high school and college graduate. 

Jose Antonio Rodriguez's latest books are the poetry collection This American Autopsy and the memoir House Built on Ashes. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Poetry, Paterson Literary Review and elsewhere. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. 

His website is jarodriguez.org


  



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 MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Women Poets Occupy the Workspace / Zoomspace. Labor Day Reading

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, as a contributor to the anthology Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse Press, 2015), will be participating in their Labor Day reading on September 6, 2021. After this ground-breaking anthology was published, there were a number of readings, launches and other events to celebrate this book and the issues of women in the workplace that it confronts. 

In January 2009, after President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, his first legislative act after taking office, poets Carolyne Wright and Eugenia Toledo began to think about the need to hear more from women about their workplace experiences—not just pay and promotion inequity, or workplace harassment and intimidation, but all matters relevant to women and work in an increasingly globalized world, including the ever-widening range of occupations in which women are engaged, and their joy and satisfaction of work well done.


This second annual virtual reading for this anthology honors the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is titled "LABOR DAY with RAISING LILLY LEDBETTER: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace / Zoomspace."  Maria and other poets will be "zooming" into the event which will be available on Facebook Live for the worldwide audience at CULTIVATING VOICES LIVE POETRY

The event will be held on Monday, September 6, 2021 at 12 noon (Pacific Time), 3 p.m. (Eastern Time), 2 p.m. (Central) and 1 p.m. (Mountain). They also expect an audience tuning in from several other time zones, including Ireland, Chile (where Co-Editor Eugenia Toledo continues to shelter in place) and other locales.

Last year's event is archived at facebook.com/slyoly/videos/10157985680884132



 




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 MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Lips Poetry Journal Now Open for Submissions



Founded in 1981 by poet Laura Boss, the Lips poetry journal has entered its fifth decade of publication. Laura served as its editor until her passing in April 2021. The Laura Boss Poetry Foundation created y her son has taken on the support of the journal as part of its mission.

Lips has published poems by Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Ruth Stone, David Ignatow, Marge Piercy, Michael Benedikt, Nicholas Christopher, Anne Waldman, Ishmael Reed, Gregory Corso, Lyn Lifshin, Ted Berrigan, Paul Hoover, Jana Harris, Toi Derricotte, Joseph Bruchac, Alice Notley, Warren Woessner, Robert Phillips, Hal Sirowitz, Theodore Weiss, Alicia Ostriker, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Stanley H. Barkan, Michael Weaver, Molly Peacock, and Richard Kostelanetz.

Lips will be accepting electronic-only submissions using Submittable for the 2022 issue from September 1, 2021, through November 30, 2021. 

For submission guidelines and a link to submit: laurabosspoetryfoundation.org/lips



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 MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Poem: How Do We Ask for Forgiveness

Photo by Ilona Panych on Unsplash


How Do We Ask for Forgiveness

How hard it is to let go, to open our hands
and give ourselves away. Love is never simple
or easy. Our hands want to clutch what we want
to keep everything sweet and delicious for ourselves.

A selfish, careless, greedy beast growls inside us.
I think of my husband’s hand, reaching out like a claw,
creeping along the table as though no one will notice
and snatching up a cookie and crushing it to crumbs
in his fist, as though for him time is moving backward

and he is becoming a child again, but aren’t we all children,
wanting what we want, just like when I had readings
in California and they were having mudslides so severe
the houses slipped from their foundations and all
I worried about was whether anyone would come

to my readings, slogging through dreadful weather,
and not whether houses were sliding off cliffs
into the sea, or the way I turned away from you,
my husband of forty-six years, to drive to Binghamton
to teach or fly to readings in Nebraska and South Dakota 

and Detroit, leaving you behind, no matter how much
I loved you, leaving you behind. “It is the actions,
not the words that count,” my mother said, and how
do I ask for forgiveness? We get what we deserve, our hearts,
these selfish children, beating for ourselves alone.

    by Maria Mazziotti Gillan




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 MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.