The Distinguished Poets Series for 2019 -2020

The Poetry Center at PCCC offers readings as part of the Distinguished Poets Series,  and  also hosts readings with poets who have been finalists and winners of contests and awards sponsored by the Center, including The Paterson Poetry Prize and The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.

There is also an annual reading to celebrate the latest issue of the Paterson Literary Review and occasional anthologies sponsored by the Center.

Many of the readings and workshops offered at The Poetry Center are also featured on Maria Mazziotti Gillan's blog.

The Distinguished Poets Series readings are held on Saturdays at 1 pm on the dates listed here at the Poetry Center, 32 Church Street, Paterson, New Jersey. (directions) All readings are free and open to the public. Open readings follow the featured readers when time allows. 

Writing workshops with most of these poets are held on the mornings of these readings in the same location. Pre-registration is required for these workshops.

The Poetry Center strives to maintain a barrier-free facility including complete access for patrons using wheelchairs, large print materials, and FM listening systems. Please contact 973-684-6555 for availability.



October 5, 2019 Molly Peacock & Rachel Wiley

 Molly Peacock, a Binghamton alumna, is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Analyst and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems from W.W. Norton. Her poems appear in leading literary journals such as Poetry and The Hudson Review and are anthologized in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Peacock was co-creator of Poetry in Motion on New York City’s subways and buses and inaugurated The Best Canadian Poetry series. She is also the author of the noted biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, named a Book of the Year by The Economist, Booklist, The London Evening Standard, and The Irish Times. She wrote and performed “The Shimmering Verge,” an Off-Broadway one-woman theatre piece in poems, and is a subject in the documentaries A Life Outside Convention and My So-Called Selfish Life, about women’s choices not to have children. Her literary papers are held at the Binghamton University Library.

Rachel Wiley is a queer, biracial poet, performer, feminist, and fat liberationist from Columbus, Ohio. She is a fellow and faculty member of the Pink Door Writing Retreat held each year in Rochester, New York, for women and nonbinary writers of color. Her poetry collection, Nothing is Okay, was published in March 2018 by Button Poetry and spent time as Amazon’s #1 Gay & Lesbian Poetry Collection, and a full length collection of poems, Fat Girl Finishing School, was published by Timber Mouse Press. She has a degree in Theatre Studies and has competed in multiple National Poetry Slam Competitions. Her work has been featured by the Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, Frigg Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Nailed Magazine.

Workshop with Molly Peacock or Rachel Wiley at 10 am to 12 pm 

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November 2, 2019 Paterson Literary Review Celebration Reading

Join the Poetry Center in celebrating 40 years of publishing the Paterson Literary Review (PLR) with a reading featuring many contributors to issue #47. PLR features unpublished work by well-known writers, as well as by writers whose work is so good it should be better known. Poems from PLR have appeared in Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize Anthologies. PLR has been chosen by the Library Journal, as one of the ten best literary journals in the country, and, in 2008, PLR was chosen as best journal by the Montserrat Review.

December 7, 2019 Jericho Brown & Raena Shirali


Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019). His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), which won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a 2019 PEN America Writer’s Emergency Fund Grant, a 2018 VIDA scholarship, a 2017 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University, and a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. Her poems have also received prizes from Cosmonauts Avenue in 2016 and Gulf Coast in 2014. Shirali’s poems & reviews have appeared widely in American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A Day, The Nation, The Rumpus, & elsewhere. She lives & teaches in Philadelphia, where she recently co-organized We (Too) Are Philly, a summer poetry festival highlighting voices of color. She also serves as Director of Pedagogy & Community Relations for Blue Stoop, a local literary hub, and is a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine.

Workshop with Jericho Brown or Raena Shirali at 10 am to 12 pm

February 1, 2020   Allen Ginsberg Awards Winners & 40th Anniversary of the Poetry Center

First Prize:  Marc Harshman (Wheeling, WV) & Francesca Maximé (Brooklyn, NY)

Second Prize:  Edwin Romond (Wind Gap, PA)

Third Prize:  June Avignone (Rochester, NY)

Honorable Mention: Howard Berelson (Teaneck, NJ); Norma Ketzis Bernstock (Milford, PA); Bill Van Buskirk (Bryn Mawr, PA); Helen Marie Casey (Sudbury, MA); Joanne M. Clarkson (Port Townsend, WA); George Drew (Poestenkill, NY); Maria Fama (Philadelphia, PA); Megan Gieske, (Newton, NJ); James D. Gwyn (Clifton, NJ); Charles H. Johnson (Hillsborough, NJ); Laine Sutton Johnson (Hillsborough, NJ); Diane Kerr (Pittsburgh, PA); Ellaraine Lockie (Sunnyvale, CA); Mary Makofske (Warwick, NY); Marie M. Marchand (Cheyenne, WY); Elizabeth Marchitti, (Totowa, NJ); Colleen Michael (Beverly, MA); Greg Moglia (Huntington, NY); Marilyn Mohr (West Orange, NJ); Gloria g. Murray (Deer Park, NY); Frank Niccoletti (West Orange, NJ); Lisa Coll Nicolaou (Fair Lawn, NJ); Haya Pomrenze (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); Wanda S. Praisner (Bedminster, NJ); Maude Carolan Pych (Totowa Borough, NJ); Ellyn Joyce Rabinowitz (Nyack, NY); Robert A. Rosenbloom (Bound Brook, NJ); Arthur Russell (Nutley, NJ); Ellen Sazzman (Potomac, MD); Penelope Scambly Schott (Portland, OR); Matthew J. Spireng (Kingston, NY); Barrett Warner (Aiken, SC); Tamara Watson (Brooktondale, NY); Bill Wunder (Langhorne, PA); Sherida Yoder (North Haledon, NJ); James K. Zimmerman (Pleasantville, NY); and Neal Zirn (Denver, CO).

Editor’s Choice: Dianne Alvine (Barnegat, NJ); Charlie Brice (Pittsburgh, PA); Judith A. Brice (Pittsburgh, PA); Lorraine Conlin (Wantagh, NY); D. M. Dutcher (Highland Park, NJ); Linda Nemec Foster (Grand Rapids, MI);     Michael S. Glaser (St. Mary's City, MD); Christine Grimes (Sackets Harbor, NY); Diane Khoury (Cresskill, NJ); Antoinette Libro (Sea Isle City, NJ); Don Lynch (Kinnelon, NJ); Sheila O'Neill Massoni (Hackensack, NJ); Marion Paganello (Fair Lawn, NJ); Natasha Rabin (Nyack, NY); Kenneth Silvestri (Nyack, NY); and Al Tacconelli (Wynnewood, PA).

The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards honor Allen Ginsberg’s contribution to American Literature.  Up to five unpublished poems may be submitted.  The awards are first prize, $1,000; second prize, $200; third prize, $100. The next contest deadline is February 1, 2020. Information on submissions

March 14, 2020 Sam Sax & Dante Di Stefano


sam sax is a queer, jewish, writer & educator. The author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series & ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, sam has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion with poems in BuzzFeed, The Nation, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, & other journals. In 2018, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation & is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Dante Di Stefano is the author of Angels and Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Best American Poetry 2018, Poem-a-Day, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. Along with María Isabel Álvarez, he co-edited the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America. He holds a PhD in English Literature from Binghamton University and is the poetry editor for the DIALOGIST. He teaches high school English in Endicott, NY and lives in upstate New York with his wife, Christina, their daughter, Luciana, and their dog, Sunny.

Workshop with Sam Sax or Dante DeStefano at 10 am to 12 pm

April 4, 2020 Winners and Finalists of the 2019 Paterson Poetry Prize:

Winners: Daniel Donaghy, Somerset (NYQ Books, New York, NY) and Sean Thomas Dougherty, The Second O of Sorrow (BOA Editions, Ltd., Rochester, NY)


Finalists: Suzanne Cleary, Crude Angel: Poems (BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO); Matthew Dickman, Wonderland: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY); Chanda Feldman, Approaching the Fields: Poems (LSU Press, Baton Rouge, LA); Maria Giura, What My Father Taught Me (Bordighera Press, New York, NY); Allison Joseph, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA); Michael Lally, Another Way to Play: Poems 1960 – 2017 (Seven Stories Press, New York, NY); January Gill O’Neil, Rewilding (CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, NJ); Danny Shot, Works (CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, NJ).

Daniel Donaghy is the author of three book-length collections of poems, Somerset (NYQ Books, New York, NY), Start with the Trouble (U of Arkansas Press) and Streetfighting (BkMk Press), and two chapbooks, Stadium Traffic and Kensington Avenue. Originally from Philadelphia, he is a Professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he teaches courses in poetry and poetry writing, and edits, with his students, a new poetry journal, called Here. While at Eastern, he has received the university's Connecticut State University System's Norton Mezvinsky Trustees Research Award and the Board of Regents Teaching Award. He is currently the Poet Laureate of Windham County in Connecticut.

Sean Thomas Dougherty was born in New York City and grew up in Brooklyn, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Dorianne Laux has called him “the gypsy punk heart of American poetry.” He is the author or editor of 17 books including All My People are Elegies and Alongside We Travel: Contemporary Poets on Autism both from NYQ Books, as well as The Second O of Sorrow winner of the 2019 Paterson Poetry Prize, and All You Ask for is Longing: Poems 1994-2014 both published by BOA Editions. His awards include the Twin Cities College Association Poet in Residence; a US Fulbright Lectureship to the Balkans; two Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry; and an appearance in Best American Poetry. He works as a caregiver and Med Tech and lives with the poet Lisa M. Dougherty and their two daughters along Lake Erie. More info on Sean can be found at seanthomasdoughertypoet.com

Workshop with Dan Donaghy or Sean Doherty at 10 am to 12 pm

There will be a special event in April 2020
in celebration of the Poetry Center’s 40th Anniversary.
Details will be announced soon.

May 2, 2020 Richard Blanco and Mark Doty


Selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, Richard Blanco is the youngest and the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity characterizes his four collections of poetry: City of a Hundred Fires, which received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press; Directions to The Beach of the Dead, recipient of the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center; and Looking for The Gulf Motel, recipient of the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award. He has also authored the memoirs For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey and The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, winner of a Lambda Literary Award. His latest book of poems, How to Love a Country, both interrogates the American narrative, past and present, and celebrates the still unkept promise of its ideals.

Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015), Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, and My Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He is also the author of three memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize.

Workshop with Richard Blanco or Mark Doty at 10 am to 12 pm