A travel writer by profession, Maria Lisella curates the Italian American Writers Association readings, and her work appears in travel trade magazines as well as USA TODAY, Jerusalem Post and the online bilingual publication, La Voce di New York.
Maria served as the Poet Laureate of Queens from 2015-2019 and was recently named an Academy of American Poets Fellow. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize, her collections include Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), Amore on Hope Street, and Two Naked Feet.
In 2015, Maria was featured in a profile posted on the Queens Public Library website. Here is an excerpt:
Who are some of your favorite authors and poets?
“...those who inspired me as a teenager included Rod McKuen, e.e. cummings, and W.B. Yeats. When I entered college, I took one of the first Black Literature courses offered, and there I encountered Mari Evans, Nikki Giovanni, and Langston Hughes, all of whom spoke to me, as we were all outsiders. I think James Baldwin is among America’s finest, most searing authors.
For poets, I would choose Philip Levine, Lucille Clifton, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Paola Corso...and so many others.”
What advice do you have for aspiring poets who are trying to find their voice, and for people who find poetry intimidating?
“Read everything; listen to everything; edit everything over and over. Follow living authors you love; if you live in New York City, you are so close to other writers. Don’t be afraid of any of them… but go to their readings with the intention of listening. Take notes, ask questions.
Find a workshop suited to you; or ask if a poet you like will be offering a workshop, and study with him or her. Keep a journal; write notes that do not have to make sense; write down your dream fragments. Keep fit physically, as it clears your mind.”
Please visit The Conversation to read Maria Lisella’s poems, “Like a bandita ...” and “They jump aside as if startled ...