Former Queens Poet Laureate to Perform at LGBTQ Voices Event Launching Pride Week on June 6

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This coming weekend, Flushing Town Hall will present a program featuring artists who identify as LGBTQ to kick off Queens Pride Week and celebrate the strength of the LGBTQ community in the borough. The event, to be held at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights in the heart of the LGBTQ community in Queens, is sponsored in part by New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm.

“This year we are kicking off LGBT Pride Month in Queens a day early on June 6 with a special cultural event in Diversity Plaza,” Dromm said. “The show will include poets, dancers, singers and musicians. It is a great way to celebrate LGBT pride. My hat goes off to Flushing Town Hall for organizing this event and to the performers and directors who made this possible.”

You can learn more here.

Paolo Javier, a former Queens Poet Laureate (2010-2014) and the author of the recently published Court of the Dragon, is one of the four participating artists. He is the recipient of grants from the Queens Council on the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. He is a longtime resident of Sunnyside, Queens, where he lives with his family.

How would you describe your poems?

My poems are quite restless, and they embrace experimentation in the other arts (cinema, comics, music, collage, painting). As your former Poet Laureate, I’m really proud of the fact that I made three of my four books of poetry, including the latest, Court of the Dragon (Nightboat Books, June 2015), where I live with my family in Sunnyside.

What will people will hear this Saturday?

I will read a selection from my new book and others. Listening Center, aka David Mason, is an amazing electronic artist who composed and recorded new music for Court of the Dragon, and I look forward to debuting parts of this collaboration on Saturday.

What has influenced your poetry?

My poems like to wear their influences on their sleeve: Gertrude Stein, Federico Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Frank O’Hara, Jose Garcia Villa, Pam Rehm, to name a few. The new book is influenced tremendously by my interest in spirituality, and occult and intuitive processes, in oblique and plain spoken discourses. Hence, lots of absorbing of the work by the Surrealist poets and artists, occult history, weird fiction, and the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, whose Buddhism I practice daily.

How long have you lived in Queens and what brought you here?

My two aunts, one of whom raised me, both lived in Sunnyside and Astoria around the time my family moved to the U.S. from Manila back in the 80s. We moved to Westchester County, and would visit my aunts every other weekend, so my notion of New York City has been profoundly shaped by the time we’d spend here in Queens. In ’99, after being away from NYC for a decade, I returned to Sunnyside, and have lived here since.

What do you most love about Queens?

It’s where Run DMC, who inspired me to write my first poem, are from, and where Joseph Cornell, my favorite artist, made all of his important work. It’s where my aunt who raised me could live and love openly. It’s where Danny and the Dromm Corps find their beating heart, protecting everyone who tunes in. It’s where NYC recognized its first Borough Poet Laureate. It’s where my wife, also an immigrant, was raised, and where we exchanged wedding vows, made our daughter. It’s Queens, our happily-ever-after.

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