Arts & Entertainment

Paterson's Poet Laureate

62e3c930ed68d7412a8a_talena.jpeg
62e3c930ed68d7412a8a_talena.jpeg

PATERSON, NJ- The City of Paterson has given birth to famous athletes, business leaders, actors, and now, a poet laureate.

Born and raised in Paterson, Talena Lachelle Queen told TAPinto Paterson that she has been writing since she was five-years old, and, as she grew older, realized that when it came to pursuing studies and a career in writing, she “didn’t have a choice.” The need to write, or to express herself through written words, has at times been impossible to suppress, Queen said relaying her feeling of being “annoyed” that one of well known works, Brown Girl, came to her at a less than opportune time and “asked her to write it.”

With her first poem published when she was just 14-years old, and extensive studies which include her being conferred a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington, Queen has used her gift to inspire and teach others. In meeting Queen for this story in the classroom where she teaches Language Arts at Martin Luther King, Jr. School it was easy to see how she has transformed that space into one that, as she said, “empowers kids to express themselves within the structure of an academic setting.”

Sign Up for E-News

According to Wikipedia, the title of poet laureate dates back to the latter stages of the Roman Empire in 1315 and connotes that the person in the position will be expected to compose poems for special occasions. So while many of Queen’s poems have “haunted” her, choosing when and where to come out, she also has extensive experience commissioning poems as she has done for publications and festivals in places far from Paterson, such as Korea and Finland.

Having lived in Seattle for nearly 16 years, Queen exudes a pride in Paterson, and suggested that for a large part of the time she was away she “had a desire to be home.” Though her trips to her hometown were frequent, being away gave her an opportunity to experience life from a different perspective. Her immediate impact on her local community now that she’s back has been great, not just in earning the position of poet laureate, but also in her efforts to bring a love of reading, and through her leadership in the Little Free Library project, access to books for residents at 12 different city parks.

And while the position of poet laureate is a largely ceremonial one, those who know Queen best will not be surprised to read that she has no intentions of doing anything less than the very most possible to make it one that is meaningful to children and adults alike. Viewing it as a “community outreach position,” she is excited that because she is the first person to hold the title she has an opportunity to “make it what it is.”

Already, she has ambitious plans to create an event for Paterson’s youngest students where they can have a space to get on stage and use a microphone, looks forward to visiting young writers in their classrooms, and hopes that she’ll be able to show residents that through writing they can “do something they haven’t done.”

Many of her poems, Queen said, are “intentionally informational,” a tool she believes can also be helpful in bringing knowledge and education to individuals in a unique way. The position also, when seen as a celebration of poetry, shows that “Paterson recognizes that arts and culture are a part of the city,” and can be used to help stimulate economic development.

Artists “love to be together,” Queen offered, and have a tendency to want to share their works, making the position a tool to support tourism, perhaps through the establishment of events that attract writers from outside of Paterson, and through the creation of space for other artists that use a variety of mediums extending beyond poetry.

With the ink on the resolution that named Queen the poet laureate barely even dry, her commitment to the position, and the great potential she has expressed for the impact it can make on a city hungry for leaders seeking to build a more positive future, has already allowed her to achieve one of her goals, to “let them know she’s home.”

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Coughlin Appoints Wimberly New Assembly Housing Committee Chair

May 21, 2018

TRENTON, NJ – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has named Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly as the new Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee chairman.

Wimberly will oversee the key committee responsible for addressing statewide concerns including affordable housing, residential construction and various legislation improving New Jersey communities.

He will assume chairmanship of ...

Adopt A Pet

This little cutie is the last “good” reminder of a bitter winter. The family, mom included, were rescued during a nasty blizzard. They adapted quickly to being safe inside and are now ready to find their new homes and their new families. Hailey is quite the player and is all about kitten energy. Born in late February of 2018, this beautiful grey and white girl enjoys wrestling with ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver Testimony on Proposal to Divert Affordable Housing Funds

May 21, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- TAPinto Paterson earlier reported on the response of local community leaders and activists on a proposal by Governor Phil Murphy to divert $46 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) which they wrote in a letter signed by representatives of over 100 groups statewide is “legally dedicated to the creation of affordable homes for lower income ...

Local Advocates Join Statewide Call for Restoration of Affordable Housing Funds

PATERSON, NJ- The leaders of several local organizations including Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Saint Paul’s Community Development Corporation, the Paterson Housing Authority, and the City of Paterson’s Neighborhood Assistance Office lent their signatures to a letter urging Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to preserve a fund dedicated to creation of affordable ...

The Elections are Over, Now it's Time to Collaborate!

May 21, 2018

For much of the past six months Paterson’s focus has been on the races for mayor and council, and rightly so. The elected officials that serve the nearly 150,000 residents of our city have an enormous responsibility, their actions dictating not just success of our community, but the way our City is perceived.

The election is now behind us, and we congratulate all who took part in the ...