It’s going to be a busy summer for Paula Curci.
The award-winning Nassau County Poet Laureate is a Gracie Award winner and a host at WRHU, Radio Hofstra University.
The Long Beach resident has been writing poetry her whole life, and views it as a powerful medium to express emotions and thoughts. Last June, she became the county poet laureate, realizing a longtime ambition.
The event also featured an open mic poetry session for adults and teens to share their own poetry.
“The event was a celebration of National Poetry Month, which the Freeport Library holds annually,” Curci said. “As part of this tradition, an open mic session is organized to provide the community with an opportunity to express themselves.”
Tammy Manor and Barbara Spinelli of the Freeport Memorial Library organized the event. The main focus of the night was to bring the community together and create a platform where individuals could step up to the microphone and have their voices heard.
Manor, the librarian and Spinelli, the library career counselor, are published poets themselves. Spinelli expressed her excitement about Curci’s presence at the event, believing she would inspire spoken-word poets and writers from the Freeport area and beyond.
“She proved to be a highly expressive and captivating presenter,” Spinelli said.
“She shared readings from her latest book and took questions from the audience. Prior to each reading, she provided a brief introduction, allowing people to ask questions about the poem’s inspiration and more. The audience was fully engaged with her throughout the event. In fact, towards the end, she encouraged audience participation by having them contribute lines as part of collaborative poems.”
Curci’s focus as Poet Laureate is to encourage people to explore poetry as a form of memoir. She shared poems about her mother and engaged with the audience.
National Poetry Month, established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, is celebrated in April to recognize poets and their significant cultural role.
Curci’s impact extends beyond the library event. She recently received a $5,000 grant through the Statewide Community Regrant Program, made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, supported by the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Huntington Arts Council Inc.
“I feel so blessed to have received a grant that will allow me to showcase Nassau County’s diverse pool of musicians, performers, storytellers and poets,” Curci said. “The arts are making a comeback and I’m happy to be spearheading a part of it with this festival.”
Curci plans to use the funds to launch “The Word — A Festival of the Spoken and Written Word: Celebrating All Voices,” Nassau County’s first poetry festival. The festival is set to debut in the fall.
Besides her work as a poet, Curci served as a school counselor at Sewanhaka High School in Elmont for more than 30 years. She also hosted two radio shows, showcasing local artists and inviting listeners to share their own poems.
Curci is a co-founding member of the Acoustic Poets Network and has introduced a new genre of performance poetry called “Posics,” blending music and poetry. She has released spoken word albums and has collaborated on various CD projects featuring her poetry.
She has also been actively promoting poetry in high school curriculums initiating programs like “I am Poetry,” encouraging students to write poems about themselves to boost self-esteem, and “Hero Poetry,” where students write poems about their heroes or go-to people.