Hayley Knox Contributing Writer
Eastern hosted the internationally recognized Maria Mazziotti Gillan to have her read some of her heart-and-soul poems on Thursday, April 5. Maria had joined one of Dr. Donaghy’s classes earlier during the day to workshop their writing and praised them for letting go of that infamous crow and taking risks in their writing. Maria encourages people to write about the hard subjects because every story is a story that deserves to be heard. Maria’s writing is no exception. She read poems about apologizing to her father, recognizing the disconnect between her and her son, and a poem about her husband’s death.
Maria expressed her gratefulness for her numerous accolades. She explained that one of the greatest moments of her life was when she visited San Mauro Cilento, a tiny village in Southwest Italy where her mother was born. The entire town threw a parade for Gillan and placed a plaque at her late mother’s home. She talked about climbing a mountain in San Mauro Cilento and when that glorious moment at the top took her breath away. Her love and appreciation of life was apparent in the way she talked about things that happened to her and her writing about it.
Although life has not been a smooth ride for Maria, she has become a very successful writer, and the obstacles she has faced made for great heart-wrenching poems. Maria works as the director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY. However, she also returns often to her hometown of Paterson, New Jersey to give back. Maria knows that she did not have the most opportunities growing up in Paterson, so she tries to provide some opportunities to the current students of Paterson by setting up a theatre program so students can see plays and get the creative exposure that they otherwise would not have been presented.
Maria has made a large impact on the writing community and does not seem to be slowing down. Her effect on other writers has spread further after her heart-warming reading.