A chat and mango juice with new the Queens poet laureate

Lisella said the tremendously diverse landscape served as a telling, rich portrait of cultural relationships.

“We don’t really have crime here that involves a misunderstanding of culture,” she said. “There’s this Israeli guy I know and his favorite meal here is from a Palestinian guy with a food truck. I asked him how he felt about that and he said ‘Well, it’s our food.’ Here, they really are cousins.

“It’s interesting to me that ethnic groups get along so well here,” she said. “So when you have that, it would be a shame not to expose their stories to each other.”

Lisella says that growing up in her grandparents’ home, where both Italian and English were spoken, her ears were intrinsically piqued to sounds, eventually leading to a proclivity for language and ultimately poetry.

“I was always attracted to poetry and I’ve always been attracted to language,” she said.

This love of language and an affinity for new experiences inspired her to pursue a career in journalism after graduating from Queens College, and later the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

“I always wanted to do journalism,” she said. “You get to meet new people, you have to learn things quickly. It always seemed like something that would be interesting and intriguing your whole life.”

This passion eventually developed into a 30-year career as a travel journalist, with articles from her travels in over 50 countries published in outlets such as Travel and Leisure and Fox News.

Looking forward, Lisella says she hasn’t yet decided on how she’ll utilize her new role as the borough’s official literary figurehead. Having been Queens poet laureate for all of two weeks, she has decided that she wants to do something that “will continue after me.”

As with any lover and creator of poetry, she’ll have to contend with a public oftentimes seen as apathetic to the form, although Lisella says many don’t realize just how pivotal poetry is in their lives.

“People look to poetry in the most difficult times in their lives,” she said. “They read the psalms, they go to a funeral and read poetry, they go to a wedding and someone reads a poem, at a birth someone reads a poem. Poetry is delivered at really critical times in people’s lives and they forget that.”

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Short URL: http://itsqueens.com/?p=1223

Posted by on Jun 25 2015. Filed under Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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