Photo: Maria Lisella. Courtesy of PWP Press
Borough President Melinda Katz this week swore in South Jamaica native Maria Lisella as the new Queens Poet Laureate.
Lisella, who resides in Astoria, is the borough’s sixth Poet Laureate. The author, teacher and travel writer was chosen after an exhaustive three-month search undertaken by Katz, in partnership with Queens College and Queens Library. The search to succeed Paolo Javier began in March when an open call for applications was made to the borough’s published poets.
Applicants for the unpaid position were required to be residents of Queens and were asked to demonstrate their vision for how they would use the position to promote a love of poetry and literacy throughout the borough.
“I am honored to join this illustrious list of poets who have been Queens Poet Laureates, especially Stephen Stepanchev, who was one of my professors at Queens College, and Hal Sirowitz, who is also a charter member of brevitas, an online poetry circle,” Lisella said. “To me, Queens epitomizes what New York City has always been: the first stop for immigrants in their quest for a new life. Today, it is easier for merchandise and goods to cross borders than people. Poetry is linked to human movement because all of our stories are renewed by the flow of cultures; and Queens has myriad stories to tell.”
Lisella is the author of three books of poetry, and has been published in Feile Fiesta, LIPS, Paterson Literary Review, Skidrow Penthouse, The New York Quarterly, First Literary Review East and Pirene’s Fountain. She also won Honorable Mention for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award.
A travel writer for 30 years, Lisella’s work has appeared in Travel and Leisure, The Dallas Morning News and FOXNews.com, among other outlets. She also contributes to La Voce di New York, an Italian and English bilingual online newspaper.
Katz said that Lisella stood out from the other candidates “because of the quality of her poetry and because of the clear and creative vision she has for promoting a love of poetry to the diverse audiences found in The World’s Borough.”
By Forum Staff