My Poet Laureate Journey

As I journey through the last few months of my laureateship, I can’t help but think how amazing this ride has been. There have been so many opportunities offered to me. I have a binder full of newsclips, and notices beginning on June 25 th, 2022, at my affirmation by the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society, to now. Some of the highlights include my Poetry as Memoir program performed for the Port Washington Library’s Sandwiched In program, PPA’s Tuesdays with Poetry at the Bellmore Library, and again for Hofstra University’s Italian American Experience. How special that was; and how exciting to perform at Hofstra where in 2022 I was honored as WRHU’s Poet in Residence.

Calliope’s Corner and The Scene magazine also began our partnership in 2022. Examining the open mic scene and printing those interviews along with airing them on WRHU, has been thought-provoking. As the poet correspondent for The Scene, I was able to be part of a new movement in poetic community engagement that seamlessly corresponded with my winning the New York State Council on the Arts SCR grant. I pioneered the Word Festival, the first festival of spoken and written word of its kind in Nassau County, at the School House Green and working with my buddies Peter V. Dugan, Rita M. Monte, Theresa Rosario-Berzner, and Lorraine LoFrese Conlin and so many others—was a trip I will never forget! Of course, I have to mention the Shore Poets who attend the Poetry: It’s a ‘Shore’ Thing! open mic. What a great bunch of noisemakers they are; there is no vibe without that tribe! The Shore Poets are a success story. The micro memoir project anthology commemorates just that and documents our time together in a unique way. Once this anthology is printed, I will be back at the keys working on another chapbook.

In January, I was honored with another win from the New York State Council on the Arts SCR grant. This individual arts project grant is for a collection of poems I am calling, Portrait Poems. The Huntington Arts Council graced a page of their arts and culture magazine with my “LOVE POEM and presented it as a favor for all who attended the last awards ceremony. I have been blessed! I have always said my mission was to encourage the discovery of the spoken and written word and to advocate for youth development. In February, I spoke in front of three hundred youth at the Nassau County Human Rights Commission’s Youth Conference and asked them all to find safer and kinder ways to promote freedom, justice and dignity for all. In that moment, I was in my sweet spot. My mission as a laureate, as a poet and as a counselor was completely fulfilled. I still have several months to go with a few more projects underway.

But I can truly say…CHEERS everyone!

‘Cheers to the seconds, to the current point in time
Cheers to the rhythm of my life and it’s rhyme
It was a fun ride; a fun ride; a fun ride we were on.
It was a fun ride; a fun ride; a fun ride we were on”

Here is a picture of me with Maureen H. Starr, Assistant Director of the Huntington Arts Council, at the 2024 NYSCA SCR grant awards. We are holding a copy of the Huntington Arts and Cultural Magazine that highlights the great work of Long Island NYSCA SCR grantees. Maureen is holding the page dedicated to my “Love Poem”! Get your free copy by clicking here.

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