The place that Maria Mazziotti Gillan calls home is a universal haven built of enduring memories and peopled by loving family. In Gillan’s newest book of poetry, The Place I Call Home, we share her complex emotions of an immigrant childhood in Paterson, New Jersey, in the 1950s, her long marriage, her husband’s devastating illness, and her subsequent widowhood. Yet, we also share the sheltering family in which she grew up, the deep love binding her and her husband, the unfolding of her life as a mother and grandmother, and, most of all, her resilient spirit. She reminds us that even when the bud of youthful naïveté flowers into the reality of an uncaring universe, we are home again when we recall the protection we felt within the warm sanctuary of family. These poems are beautiful crystalline narratives, sometimes exuberant and sometimes poignant, but always unflinchingly true.
Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a Maria Gillan poem evokes a thousand pictures. Her masterful book, The Place I Call Home is more about redeeming the past—finding grace in the details—than about nostalgia. Unlike Peter Pan who utters, "I won’t grow up," Gillan shows how she grew into a poet of Proust-like dimensions—memories are contained in objects. She has the courage to delve into her past—making it come alive again—not as a passive viewer but as an active participant. It's like she has created a large tapestry of her life—every thread is important. I'm man enough to admit that some of these poems made me cry.
—Hal Sirowitz, Author of Mother Said, Former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY
The Place I Call Home by Maria Mazziotti Gillan contains some of the most honest poems about marriage and family a reader is likely ever to come across. The craft is there, the well chosen word or phrase, but the power of these poems comes also from the truth in them that is moving and rare.