Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

Maria Mazziotti Guillan Motivates Eastern Writers

Published on November 24, 2015

Maria Mazziotti Guillan Motivates Eastern Writers

Maria Mazziotti Guillan was welcomed at Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 19. Guillan was invited by the Writers Guild to give Eastern students a writing workshop and reading from her 20 published books.

The Writers Guild is a student club led by faculty advisor Daniel Donaghy that promotes creative expression among Eastern students and publishes a literary journal, “Eastern Exposure”, each year. The literary journal is written by students for students, and each year students can submit up to five pieces of writing for the Writer’s Guild to choose for publication. The Writer’s Guild is also responsible for bringing authors to campus to encourage students.

The reading opened up with Dakota Dolan, president of Eastern’s Writer’s Guild, introducing Guillan. The audience engaged with laughter and curiosity as they listened to Guillan read some of her favorite poems from her 20 books. “We wanted Maria to come because I knew what kind of teacher and performer she is and how she uses her readings and poetry writing workshops as opportunities to help students summon the courage to tell their stories,” said Donaghy. As Guillan read her poems she gave audience members advice on how to tell your story. Guillan advises students that it’s appropriate to use real-world tragedies and experiences to create respectable writing. “I wanted to give students courage to tell stories that are important,” said Guillan. “You should write about love, loss and fear because we all have that story, because we are all human beings.”

The audience sat in awe as they listened to Guillan. “Maria has a radiating fearlessness. She has the ability to speak of difficult topics and use brash language; she is not afraid to offend, she doesn’t prance around the truth, she gives it to you straight,” said poetry student Nathan Boutin.  “She has taught people about being truthful with others and, more importantly, yourself. It is difficult to do, but her poetry makes us realize it is possible.”

Guillan is the founder and executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and editor of the Paterson Literary Review. She also directs the Creative Writing program and teaches poetry at Binghamton University. “I just want to find the words to change people’s lives. I want others to tell their stories without being afraid of what others will say,” said Guillan. “Poetry starts from the heart, not the brain.” Guillan stressed through her reading about finding the time to read and write. “If you’re truly passionate about something, you will find the time. My time is at 3 am in the morning.”

Guillan travels the world in hopes of inspiring young writers. “The reading was extremely entertaining and interesting. It amazes me how Maria can bring her past back to life in such a beautiful way,” said poetry student Amanda Demaio. Her book, “Writing Poetry to Save Your Life”, is primarily one of her talks summed up in a 20-chapter book. “Through her work and teaching, Maria reminds us of the balance within ourselves that we can find when we take time from our speeding, fleeting lives to capture in words how we feel about something,” said Donaghy. “While she’s technically a creative writing professor, she is ultimately a voice professor. She has helped so many people around the world believe in the power and potential of their own voices.”

Guillan concluded her reading explaining why she wrote, “Writing Poetry to Save Your Life”. She described how she was being confronted by students with fear and panic when given a poetry assignment. She wanted her students to get their thoughts down, write what they wanted and forget about the outside world. “It’s okay to write about whatever family you have. Whether they are good, bad, broken or picture perfect, they are something great,” said Guillan.

“After her visit, many students let me know, via email and in person, that Marias words and energy changed their lives,” said Donaghy. Young writers left inspired with a new way to look at writing. Guillan achieved her goal of inspiring her audience. “I’ve been able to make a life out of what I love and that’s satisfying.”

Written by Christina Rossomando

Categories: English