Poet laureate gets grant for arts in Nassau

Money will be used to showcase talent across the county


Nassau County Poet Laureate Paula Curci has been awarded a $5,000 grant, made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Huntington Arts Council, Inc.

Curci, an award-winning performance artist who also hosts Long Island’s premier poetry and arts radio program Calliope’s Corner, will use the funds to launch the first Nassau County-wide poetry festival: The Word — A Festival of the Spoken and Written Word: Celebrating All Voices.

“I feel so blessed to have received a grant that will allow me to showcase Nassau County’s diverse pool of lyricists, 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.”

The Word — A Festival of the Spoken and Written Word: Celebrating All Voices, is set to debut this fall. Details on the special event will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

Curci, 60, of Long Beach, has discovered a world of emotions and thoughts in a lifetime of writing poetry. Her talent and devotion to the craft has won her an award she has been striving for: On June 25 last year, she was named the Nassau County poet laureate. She had been nominated twice before.

After graduating from Adelphi University in 1984 with a degree in psychology and communications and earning a master’s in school counseling from LIU Post, Curci spent over 30 years as a school counselor at Sewanhaka High School in Elmont. There she was also an adviser for the Poetry Club, where she “found poetry to be a great way for students to verbalize their feelings.”

Curci has also hosted two radio shows. Her first, called “What’s the Buzz,” started just after she graduated from Adelphi, and she hosted the show on the campus radio station, WBAU, as a community volunteer. For the past two decades, though, she has been the host of “Calliope’s Corner” on Hofstra University’s station, WRHU. Curci said she uses the show to highlight local artists and poets.

She also asks listeners to send in their own poems so she can read and discuss them on air. “I do it so people can hear their own voice,” she said in a pst interview.

“Most of my work is audio,” Curci has said. “I’m a spoken word performance artist.”

She is a co-founding member of the Acoustic Poets Network, and has started a new genre of performance poetry, which she calls “Posics,” a combination of music and poetry. She has released three spoken word albums, “Emissary,” “Bittersweet” and “Done That: Poetry and Posics.” She also has several CD’s that feature her poetry.

“How I present my poetry is my performance,” she said in a past interview.

Curci has had ideas about bringing more poetry into local high school curriculums. One idea is “I am Poetry,” in which students would write poems about and to themselves to boost their self-esteem and self-awareness. Another is called “Hero Poetry,” in which students would write poems about their heroes, or their “go-to people,” because, Curci said, “everyone needs a go-to person.” She said she already has plans with some high schools for this.

With youth development as her fundamental goal, she has been working with some youth organizations to set up classroom visits to meet with students.