Writer Gil Fagiani’s poem “Jazzing with Machito” was featured in Issue #7 of Newtown Literary. Here, he discusses poetry. You can learn more about Gil at Kites Without Strings or in this New York Times piece.
What Is My Idea of Poetry
When I lived in East Harlem in the 1960s, I was struck by the creative and powerful way young people spoke in this poor quarter of upper Manhattan, a mixture of English and Spanish, slang and argot. While their material conditions were depressed, their speech was dynamic. Their voices heightened a lifelong interest I’ve had in expressive spoken language. Engaged for more than 40 years in social work, I now realize those voices I’d heard constitute the major influence on my aesthetic as a poet. I think in terms of “people to people”, what I observe, perceive, I seek to reshape, enhance, and redirect back to people—not just a literary audience. Poetry is concentrated, powerful verbal communication. For me, it represents the ability to transmit the complexity of experience more intensely than other forms of verbal expression. While I try to respect all poetic traditions, even the most avant-garde, I place a high premium on accessible communication. One of my greatest satisfactions is to be approached by someone who says, “I’m not into poetry, but your work really moves me.”
Readers, mark your calendars:
- Delve deep into your personal writing as Heightening Stories presents the Personal Prose
workshop, starting June 2. Enrollment is open until May 26.
- Join Heightening Stories for The Diversity Writing Project workshop starting June 4. Register by May 31.
- Want to give your writing a kick in the pants? Heightening Stories presents the Jumpstart Your Writing online workshop starting June 5. Register by May 31.
- Join Joe Okonkwo on June 2 at 7:00 p.m. at The Astoria Bookshop for a reading from his debut novel, Jazz Moon.
- Join us on June 11 at 5:00 p.m. at the park behind Lost Battalion Hall as we celebrate the launch of Issue #8 of Newtown Literary! The event will be hosted by Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons and feature Carly Anderson, Chris Antzoulis, Suzanne Bennet, Jurien Huggins, Madelin A. Medina, and Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie. Rain date: June 18.
- The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning is calling for artists to apply for a free one-month residency. For more information, and to apply, check out the JCAL website. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.