PATERSON, NJ- Paterson’s place in the poetry community was on full display Sunday as local residents Elizabeth Valverde and Damen Van Ginneken opened their home to nearly 50 guests in homage to the late Dr. William Carlos Williams whose own work, including the aptly titled “Paterson,” has been a source of inspiration for generations of writers.
Calling it "an important day for literature, and an even more important day for the arts in Paterson,” Valverde, herself a highly acclaimed published poet, said that the event proved that “dozens of people will show up to Silk City when they are offered an opportunity to experience creativity on a dazzling, formidable level.”
The event, which the hostess called “elegant and modest” was held in conjunction with Voices of Poetry (VOP) and was the first foray for the organization that has given poets and writers a platform to promote their work in Connecticut and New York, in New Jersey. Included in the poets to read on Sunday was Neil Silberblatt, founder of VOP; Mark Fogarty, poet, musician and journalist, who spoke of his reaction to the bombing of the 1963 Birmingham Bombing which claimed the life of four young African Americans at the height of the march toward civil rights reform; David Dephy, a Georgian poet, performer and multimedia artist; and Gloria Monaghan, Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston.
The event, which Valverde said was a year in the making, kept true to its focus on Paterson by featuring catering by the Brownstone as well as locally made Mad Mac macaroons, the talents of DJ Skinny, and the services of a Patersonian in a security role.
The day’s readings culminated with the words of local activist, educator and writer Zellie Thomas and PCCC student Rebecca Carvalho as well as an the inspired delivery of Park Avenue Paterson by Valverde.
Following the success of the event, the host couple, both avid boxing fans, are hoping host a second literary event in conjunction with VOP honoring Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in the Spring with an added fundraising component with proceeds going to youth boxing and Paterson students' poetry endeavors.