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Poet helps young writers harness their creativity

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Binghamton, began writing poetry at the age of 7, before she was fluent in English.

When her teachers read poems out loud in class, Maria Mazziotti Gillan easily picked up on the style of writing and during her teenage years imitated other poets’ styles, such as Keats and E.E. Cummings. Now, “I want my readers to laugh and cry when they read my new poems,” Gillan said. “I’m not interested as much in beautiful language.”

Gillan has published nine books of poetry, most recently All That Lies Between Us. Poems from this volume and from her book Italian Women in Black Dresses have been featured on Garrison Keillor's NPR program The Writers' Almanac. Gillan, the editor of The Patterson Literary Review, has been published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Ireland, The New York Times, Connecticut Review and Rattle, among many other journals and anthologies.

Described by Sean Thomas Dougherty, editor of Maria Mazziotti Gillan: Essays on Her Works, as “one of the leaders of the multicultural turn in North American poetry,” Gillan is an avid reader whose mother allowed her to walk to the library at a young age and read at the dinner table.

“My family has been really instrumental in my career,” Gillan said. “Poetry was a kind of salvation for me, and I encourage my students to find the story they have to tell and be courageous about it.”

Learn more about Gillan’s books and poems.

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Last Updated: 6/18/15