Paolo Javier named fifth poet laureate

Describing himself as “a once-global nomad” who made Queens his permanent home because he has “no trouble finding the world in it,” Paolo S. Javier has been named the fifth Poet Laureate of Queens.

Javier’s three-year appointment, following a search launched in March, was announced on June 17 at Borough Hall by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens College President James Muyskens.

Queens’ newest poet laureate is an award-winning author of two poetry collections and four chapbooks (short books of poetry), as well as a playwright, film director, college professor, editor, and publisher. A native of the Philippines who has traveled widely and lived in Asia, the Middle East, and North America, Javier moved to Katonah, N.Y., in 1986, and has been a resident of Sunnyside, Queens, for over a decade.

“I am delighted to approve my panel of judges’ recommendation of Paolo Javier as the next Poet Laureate of Queens,” said Marshall. “Mr. Javier is an up-and-coming poet as well as a filmmaker who has a clearly articulated vision of how to promote a love of poetry among our diverse youth through multimedia programming. We are very excited to collaborate with him over the next three years.”

“Paolo Javier is truly a 21st century poet who is recreating poetry as a dynamic literary art form that draws from theater, new media, sound art, and international cinema,” said Muyskens. “His unique, multidisciplinary approach will surely engage our diverse communities.”

Javier is the author of the forthcoming The Feeling Is Actual (Creature Press) and Megton Gasgan Krakoom (Cy Gist Press), as well as LMFAO (OMG Press), Goldfish Kisses (Sona Books), 60 lv bo(e)mbs (O Books), and the time at the end of this writing (Ahadada Books), which received a Small Press Traffic Book of the Year Award in 2005.

Javier’s poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Language for a New Century: An Anthology of Arab and Asian American Poetry (Norton). He recently completed Lunatic, a full-length play; several of his short theater pieces have been produced by The Poets Theater in San Francisco.

Javier has given countless public readings, lectures, and poetry performances at distinguished venues in the United States and Canada. He is the editor and publisher of 2nd Avenue Poetry, an online journal of contemporary poetry. Among his other awards and fellowships are the 2010 Millay Colony for the Arts Writer-in-Residence (forthcoming) and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Writer-in-Residence, 2007-2008. Javier holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and creative writing from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in the same disciplines from Bard College. He has also served as a visiting professor at the University of Miami.

Marshall noted that the borough bard is expected to nurture residents’ love of poetry and perform readings at various locales and annual events celebrated in the county. Among the programs Javier proposed in his application for this post are multimedia performances and interdisciplinary poetry workshops at libraries and community centers throughout Queens. In addition, he plans to organize an international poetry festival in the borough and curate a “roving poetry reading series” that would showcase the rich talents of local poets.

“I hope to continue the rich and sophisticated history of innovative writers and artists emerging from and working in Queens,” says Javier. He has also set his sites beyond the borough, expressing his wish to promote Queens poetry “across the greater tristate area and beyond.”

Javier will take over his duties from Julio Marzan (2007-2010), a native of Puerto Rico who came to New York when he was four months old. Marzan was preceded by Ishle Yi Park (2004-2007), a Korean-American poet from Whitestone. Before her, Hal Sirowitz (2001-2004), a public school teacher from Flushing, held the post. The borough’s first poet laureate was Queens College Professor Emeritus Stephen Stepanchev (1997-2001).

The Queens Poet Laureate is a three-year, non-salaried appointment. Candidates must have lived in Queens for at least the past two years, had their work published, written poems about the borough and have a clearly articulated vision for serving. The idea for a Queens Poet Laureate was proposed in 1996 by the Friends of the Queens College Library, a volunteer support group, and endorsed by then-Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.