Queens has its fifth Poet Laureate

Sunnyside’s Paolo Javier was appointed the borough’s fifth Poet Laureate by Borough President Helen Marshall on Thursday, June 17, and he will now work towards promoting the art form throughout Queens.

“Being granted the Poet Laureate of Queens is one of the greatest honors I have,” said Javier, a native of the Philippines. “I have always been a proud Queens resident. However, the Poet Laureate doesn’t feel like a prize, it feels like a title and responsibility, bringing the world to Queens.”

The non-salaried position was first created in 1997 and the search for Javier began in March. Applicants had to reside in the borough for at least two years and have published works including poetry about Queens. In addition, they had to present a vision for being Poet Laureate.

“I am delighted to approve my panel of judges’ recommendation of Paolo Javier as the next Poet Laureate of Queens,” Marshall said. “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.”

Javier, who will now serve a three-year term until 2013, plans to hold multimedia performances, interdisciplinary poetry workshops, an international poetry festival and a “roving poetry reading series.” He will also do his own readings at events throughout Queens.

“I hope to continue the rich and sophisticated history of innovative writers and artists emerging and working in Queens,” Javier said.

A writer and educator, Javier has taught at Hunter College, Columbia University and New York University. Although he took a semester off to pursue Poet Laureate, Javier plans to return to teaching at the Eugene Lang College of New School University in the upcoming fall semester.

Javier is an award-winning author of two poetry collections and four chapbooks. His first book was Small Press Traffic and the second was 60 lv Bo“e”mbs. Javier’s online journal, www.2ndAvePoetry.com, was expanded into a chapbook.

In addition, he is a playwright, editor, publisher, film director and ran a theater company for a year. He has owned his own publishing company, 2nd Avenue Poetry, and has published several books himself.

“I am an experimental poet whose restless interest, poetry, comics, films, visual arts, theater arts and sound arts are encouraged and given permission by my living and writing in Queens,” Javier said.

Javier was born in Quezon City in the Philippines and raised in Las Piñas. Although, English was the primary language spoken in his household, he also speaks Tagalog, French, Arabic and Spanish.

He originally migrated to the United States in 1986 and then lived in the Middle East for four years, from 1988 to 1992. Following that, he attended school in Canada before permanently moving back to the United States in 1999.

“Las Piñas is my home town, but Queens is my home,” Javier said. Of his home for more than 10 years, Sunnyside, he added, “I like how diverse it is in terms of class and race. I like the fact that it’s not one class taking over the neighborhood.”

“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 Queens College president James Muyskens. “His unique, multidisciplinary approach will surely engage our diverse communities.”


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