Since 1996com
 Since 1996


The Girls In The Chartreuse Jackets
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan.
Cat in the Sun Books.71 pages.
Exemplar by Grace Cavalieri

These poems make up more of Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s rich mythology – growing up in Paterson, New Jersey with her Italian family—her initial wishes to be “other than”—her pride in what she finds as her true self, poet, teacher, curator. Now, visual artist. The “sense of self” is found in the writing with a directness and passion, but made better by paintings, water colors and mixed media, conveying a biography more nuanced and delicate. In both, her keynote is honesty, and a simplicity that can only come from a seasoned artist.

Gillan writes without judgment on the world, creating a sweet modesty in her figures sustained by a time and place in American culture. The gift Gillan has is her drive to capture the spirit of her characters and then show the spirit as gesture, in color.

Watching Gillan’s artistic endeavors, over the years, I should have been prepared for this new aspect, but I was unaware of her work on canvas—delicate, highly imagined, yet able to sustain a dialogue with her poetry. It doesn’t matter what an artist’s intention is if the delivery doesn’t modify our view of the world, or touch our fiber. Gillan’s capabilities expand, giving us the desires and whims of an American Humanist with her gift, ”Behold I make things new.”


My Dreams Are Full Of Women

(poem accompanying  portrait: mixed media titled “Women in Bright Dresses.”)

My dreams are full of women and bright dresses; they swirl around

a room filled with bright lights and birds. Children are there, too.

The women look at me as though they want to tell me something.

We are alive, they seem to say. We are together on this campus

and our happiness is so real, you can hold in our hands. “Here,”

they say, as they reach toward me, “here take it. We want to give

it to you. It’s so sweet, isn’t it? So sweet, and we are grateful.”

 (acknowledgement: Washington Independent Review of Books)

Return to index page