On Wednesday night, poet John Stanizzi was hosted by the UConn Co-op Bookstore for a reading of his work.
Stanizzi is the author of four books of poetry including “Sleepwalking,” “Windows” and “Dance Against the Wall.” His work has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Freshwater, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review and several other publications.
The night began with opening remarks from Bessy Reina. Reina had just returned from the International Poetry Festival and said, “I head a lot of bad poetry, but for tonight, that will not happen here.”
Stanizzi opened his reading with a poem entitled “Third Grade,” which was about him as a kid and how he climbed a peach tree to steal a peach from his neighbor for a group of girls he was trying to impress. He did this all, he said, while wearing a Batman mask and a cape.
Following “Third Grade”, Stanizzi read three poems about his familial experiences with Alzheimer’s disease. One such poem was entitled “In Thunder, Lightning or in the Rain” which Stanizzi cited as being inspired by the play Macbeth wherein the line in thunder, lightning, or in the rain are spoken by the three witches within the play. The poem was dedicated to his longtime friend, Clem Young.
Stanizzi prefaced his poems inspired by his experiences with Alzheimer’s disease by sharing with the audience that his father had it. He spoke about the experience with his father in a piece entitled “DLROW.”
In “DLROW,” which is the word “world” spelled backwards, Stanizzi explains how his father volunteered himself to Yale University for five years in order to research ways to combat the disease. The title of the poem was a reference to the physicians at Yale whom his father would see regularly and how at the beginning of any session with them they would ask him to spell world backwards.
Another poem Stanizzi read entitled “Spags” seemed to be a favorite for a former student of Stanizzi, Ellen Schroeder. “It’s really funny, and expresses his funny personality,” said Schroeder.
Kara Gorski, a sophomore Animal Sciences student and former Bacon Academy student of Stanizzi commented on a poem he read entitled “Voices” saying that “I’ve never seen him speak like this, it was really cool to see that side of him.”
The evening was attended by Stanzini’s daughter Alison. Ms. Stanzini said “I always go to his readings with our family and extended family.”
At the evening’s conclusion, Stanizzi said, “As always, I am humbled and tremendously grateful for being lifted up by the numbers of former students who never fail to come out and hear me read.”
Stanizzi has another book coming out next month entitled “Hallejulah Time” which is inspired by the songs of Bob Marley from his albums “Burnin’” and “Exodus.” He is a retired teacher from The Bacon Academy, but teaches in an adjunct capacity at Manchester Community College. He grew up in Colchester and currently lives in Coventry.