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Maria Mazziotti Gillan Awarded the George Garrett Award

On February 26 at this year’s AWP Conference, Maria Mazziotti Gillan was awarded the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature. Judith Baumel, AWP President & Northeast Representative, presented Maria Mazzioti Gillan with the award in recognition of her hard work and dedication towards supporting and promoting emerging writers. Over the years, Maria Mazzioti Gillan has created the Poetry Center in Paterson and the Center for Writers at Binghamton University-SUNY. She has also sponsored and given workshops for adults, seniors and children; started a reading series; created book awards and contests; and edited the Paterson Literary Review and anthologies like Unsettling America. Maria Mazzioti Gillan Receiving Award Edited

Maria Mazziotti Gillan thanked the AWP and all it does for writers and writing programs.

“I’d also like to honor my parents who taught us to believe that we had a responsibility to others to share our talents and our knowledge, offer help when it was needed, to find what we love and make it our life’s work.

My father spoke broken English, but he learned how to fill out income tax forms by reading the tax book and then filled out forms for the Italians of Riverside  He became a kind of people’s lawyer, helped the other Italians to send for their families or sell property in Italy. He taught by example how to have a generous heart. My mother worked in a factory and did not know how to read and write in English, but she was a brilliant cook and shared her food with friends and neighbors. She told me, ‘It was a miracle, the more I gave away, the more I had to give.’

For me, their message translated into dedicating myself to writing poetry and to creating opportunities for other writers… I have tried to make a space for other writers and create opportunities for them to share their work, to be published and heard. I want my students to understand that they cannot live for themselves only, and the more they help other writers, the more their own work will be positively affected.”

The George Garrett Award honours George Garrett (1929-2008), who worked tirelessly to help many young writers begin their careers. He spent many years working as the editor of Intro, an annual anthology celebrating emerging writers. He also served as one of the founding members of the AWP Board of Directors, taught creative writing and literature for more than forty years and is the author of more than thirty books.

The AWP (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs) provides support, advocacy, and resources to approximately 500 college and university creative writing programs and 125 writers’ conferences and centers. It also supports a community of nearly 50,000 writers and works hard to promote contemporary writing.

For more information about Maria Mazzioti Gillan, you can check her website at

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