Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Paterson and Poetry

The Hamilton Club

Barry Singer, a contributor to the Huffington Post on the arts and literature, wrote about "Paterson, Poetry, Patricia Jones and Her Prize." In the piece, he tells the story of accompanying his friend Patricia Jones to her poetry reading at the Hamilton Club at Passaic County Community College, home to the Poetry Center.

It wasn't Barry's first visit to the city. He went to kindergarten, elementary school, and junior high school in Paterson, but it was his first visit to the Poetry center at the Hamilton Club. Here are some of his impressions from his visit.

It’s a grand old place. I was tickled to discover it. I was even more tickled to find a crowd of nearly a hundred waiting for Patricia on the second floor. Who knew that Passaic County Community College possesses one of this country’s most vibrant poetry programs? Not me.

2016 Paterson Poetry Prize winner, Mark Doty (2nd from left) and finalists, Adele Kenny, Vivian Shipley, Patricia Spears Jones, and Richard Michelson, with founder/ executive director of the Poetry Center, Maria Mazziotti Gillan (center) at a reading and awards ceremony held on April 1, 2017.

Patricia’s reading would feature most of the finalists for the college’s 2016 Paterson Poetry Prize... This is a roll call of some of the finest poets in America. Quite an assemblage for a tired old Jersey mill town on a Saturday morning. Of course, this tired old Jersey mill town also boasts a deep poetic patrimony, including William Carlos Williams, who wrote an epic poem called “Paterson," and Allen Ginsberg, who grew up there. 
The reading was a joy – literate, bracingly political (both overtly and covertly), poetically varied, at times richly moving and at times funny as hell. Ms. Maria Mazziotti Gillan hosted, the executive director who founded the Poetry Center in 1980 and has kept the place going, in part, with grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. In other words, if Trump’s new budget goes through, killing the N.E.A., here is one regional arts bastion that would be its victim. 
I doubt that the feisty Ms. Mazziotti Gillan will ever let that stop her. Still, days after Patricia’s reading, I found myself thinking protectively of Paterson and poetry, which I had certainly never done before.

Read the full article at huffingtonpost.com



Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter and the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.