Monday, September 25, 2017

Poem: "In the Still Photograph, Paterson, New Jersey, Circa 1950"

In the Still Photograph, Paterson, New Jersey, Circa 1950

We are standing in a backyard
part of a porch is visible, a lattice
heavy with roses, a small tree.
Beyond the bushes in the background,
a woman with her hand on her hip
stares at us.

My father is young. He squints
into the sun. He wears a white shirt,
a flowered tie, a pair of gabardine pants
and dress shoes. His hair is thick
and crew cut. My mother wears high-heeled
black shoes with a strap across the ankle
and nylons and a black dress
printed with large flowers,
her hair, bobbed end neat.
her arm, bent at the elbow,
looks strong and firm.
I cannot see her expression clearly,
but I think she is smiling.
Her hand is on my sister Laura's arm.
Laura stands between them.
She is 13, her skin clear and beautiful.

Alex and I share a small stool
in front of the 3 grouped
behind us, my long-haired run back
in a straight line. I sit
behind him. He's about 7,
slim and dressed up in imitation
of my father, except Alex wears a bow tie.
His knees look sharp
and bony through his pants,
his hands clasped together
between his knees.

Even in the standard family picture,
we do not look American.

I think of my mother's preparations:
the rough feel of the 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, the yards
that grow larger as we climb the hill,
the immigrant gardens.

We walk back home
in early evening, after the grownups
have espresso and anisette and
we, small jelly glasses of juice.
My brother's hand in mine, I pretend
to be grown up. Dreams
cluster around my head
like a halo, while crickets
fill the summer evening
with their shining web of song.





"In the Still Photograph, Paterson, New Jersey, Circa 1950"
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan,
from Light-Gathering Poems,  edited by Liz Rosenberg







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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Michigan Readings and Workshops with Maria Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan will be busy in Michigan next week doing poetry readings and workshops.

On September 25, Maria Gillan will be giving a reading and workshop at Wayne State University in Detroit. The reading will be from 3 – 4 PM at the Woodward Building, Room 10302.

On September 27, Maria will be doing a Q & A on Poetry as Craft, Muse and Profession at Aquinas College from 12:30 – 1:15 PM in the Loutit Room, at 1700 Fulton St. in Grand Rapids. She will also give a 7:30 PM Poetry Reading at Aquinas College (Department of World Languages, AB9A).



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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Exemplars Selects 'Paterson Light and Shadow' Best Poetry Collection With Photographs

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.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Weekend Poetry Intensive with Maria Gillan and Laura Boss



WRITING YOUR WAY HOME: A POETRY WEEKEND INTENSIVE
with award-winning poets, Laura Boss & Maria Mazziotti Gillan
December 8 - 10, 2017
at an English Manor House in Mendham, New Jersey

St. Marguerite's Retreat House  (Photo by Mark Hillringhouse)

St Marguerite’s Retreat House, located in Mendham, NJ, is situated on 93 acres of wooded land with pathways for exploring the property. This serene, beautiful setting is perfect for contemplating nature and nurturing the creative spirit.

This poetry weekend intensive is open to all writers over the age of 18. It begins at 5 p.m. Friday, December 8 and ends at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 10.

The purpose of this retreat is to give poets the space and time to focus on their writing away from the pressures and distractions of everyday life. Participants will draft poems in the workshops and should bring paper or a notebook, pens, and the willingness to take risks. Please also bring previously-written work for one-on-one critiquing sessions and for group readings.

At this retreat, poets will find:
• support and encouragement;
• stimulating writing exercises/prompts leading to the creation of new work;
• workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life;
• opportunities to read their work aloud to the group;
• a community of writers and networking opportunities.

Fifteen professional development credits granted.

Poetry Weekend Intensive Schedule:

Friday, December 8: Please arrive by 5 PM and settle into your rooms. Both Friday and Saturday wine will be served with dinner. After dinner, we will break into two groups (about 12 to 15 in each), where we will have the opportunity to write poetry and share the work we have just written.

Saturday, December 9: After breakfast, we will break into two groups for morning workshops. Lunch will be served, followed by one afternoon workshop and either free time or a critiquing session with the poet faculty. Interested participants can sign up in advance (at the retreat house) and may bring previously written, typed work for feedback. After dinner, there will be an additional workshop.

Sunday, December 10: Breakfast followed by a workshop. A final reading by participants will serve as the “closing ceremony” to what we hope will be an inspiring and productive weekend. Lunch will offer another opportunity for socializing and networking.

Maria and Laura envision this intensive as a journey, allowing us to look at things differently, listen to our own inner voice, and create in stillness and community. This is an opportunity to retreat from the noise and busyness everyday life and invite the muse to inspire us. In the workshops, we will capture our stories and memories on paper, and discover how poetry can, so often, save our lives.

About the Poets

Laura Boss is a first-place winner of PSA’s Gordon Barber Poetry Contest.

Founder and editor of Lips, she is the recipient of three NJSCA Poetry Fellowships, and received the first International Poetry Award at the International Poetry Festival in Swansea, Wales. Laura’s newest collection is The Best Lover (NYQ, 2017).

Her other books include: Reports from the Front (CCC), Arms: New and Selected Poems (Guernica) and Flashlight (Guernica). She co-edited with John Gallaher, Time Is a Toy: Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt (University of Akron, 2014). Her poems have appeared in The New York Times.

Her website is www.laurabosspoet.wordpress.com

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is winner of the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP, the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, and the 2008 American Book Award for her book, All That Lies Between Us.

She is the Founder/Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, editor of the Paterson Literary Review, and director of the creative writing program/professor of English at Binghamton University-SUNY.

She has published 22 books, including What Blooms in Winter (NYQ Books, 2016) and Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets (Cat in the Sun Books, 2014) and, most recently, Paterson Light and Shadow (Serving House Books, 2017). Visit Maria’s website at www.mariagillan.com

Laura Boss and Maria Gillan


Fee: $425
Deposit by October 5, 2017 $300 with the balance of $125 due by November 20, 2017
*Total fee includes room, meals, and workshops.

*Early Bird Discount: deduct $25 if paid in full by October 25, 2017.
*Full refund will be given prior to November 20, 2017.
*Late registration will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Enrollment is limited. We already have a list of people signed up for this workshop, so if you are interested, please sign up early.

Make check payable to Maria Mazziotti Gillan to 40 Post Ave., Hawthorne, NJ 07506

Other questions? Call (973) 684-6555 or (973) 423-2921 or email to: mariagillan@verizon.net


St Marguerite’s Retreat House is located at the convent
of Saint John the Baptist at 82 West Main Street, Mendham, NJ


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Poem: "After School on Ordinary Days"

As school begins again in New Jersey, here is a poem by Maria Gillan about her own after school hours during the school year.

Paterson School #15 (now #11)


After School on Ordinary Days

After school on ordinary days we listened
to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger
as we gathered around the tabletop radio
that was always kept on the china cabinet
built into the wall in that tenement kitchen,
a china cabinet that held no china, except
thick and white and utilitarian,
cups and saucers, poor people's cups
from the 5 &1 0 cent store.
My mother was always home
from Ferraro's coat factory
by the time we walked in the door
after school on ordinary days,
and she'd give us milk with Bosco in it
and cookies she'd made that weekend.
The three of us would crowd around the radio,
listening to the voices that brought a wider world
into our Paterson apartment. Later
we'd have supper at the kitchen table,
the house loud with our arguments
and laughter. After supper on ordinary
days, our homework finished, we’d play
Monopoly or gin rummy, the kitchen
warmed by the huge coal stove, the wind
outside rattling the old loose windows,
we inside, tucked in, warm and together,
on ordinary days that we didn't know
until we looked back across a distance
of forty years would glow and shimmer
in memory's flickering light.


"After School on Ordinary Days" from Light-Gathering Poems edited by Liz Rosenberg





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.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Return Narratives

Una faccia, una razza, usually translated as same face, same race, has long been used to extol the similarities between Greek and Italian cultures. In Return Narratives: Ethnic Space in Late-Twentieth-Century Greek American and Italian American Literature (The Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Series in Italian Studies), Theodora Patrona delves beneath cultural surfaces to render deeper understandings of the experiences of these two major world cultures and their diasporas.

This comparative study of six Italian-American and Greek-American literary works written in the three last decades of the 20th century and examined in pairs. Based on the common theme of the authors' return, either metaphorical or literal to the country of origin and its culture, the book explores the common motifs of mythology, ritual, and storytelling where the third generation writers resort to in their quest for self-definition.

The work of poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan is included in the volume, in particular, her poem "Public School No. 18: Paterson, New Jersey."  You can read Maria's poem which was featured on an earlier post to this blog, and is also included in her collected poems, What We Pass On: 1980-2009 (Essential Poets Series)book




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.