About

Our Mission

Founded in 1988, the Theater and Poetry Project was designed to offer quality arts education in the Paterson Public School system. Created by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, executive director of the Poetry Cener and Cultural Affairs Department at PCCC, the program began modestly, offering a limited number of plays in the first year.

It didn’t take long for the initiative to expand, and today TAPP continues to present an aesthetically exciting, comprehensive program that is free of charge to all Passaic County Schools. 

Our Mission

Founded in 1988, the Theater and Poetry Project was designed to offer quality arts education in the Paterson Public School system. Created by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, executive director of the Poetry Cener and Cultural Affairs Department at PCCC, the program began modestly, offering a limited number of plays in the first year.

It didn’t take long for the initiative to expand, and today TAPP continues to present an aesthetically exciting, comprehensive program that is free of charge to all Passaic County Schools. 

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College

About the Founder and Executive Director

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is winner of AWP’s 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature, Poets & Writers’ 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, and the 2008 American Book Award for All That Lies in Between Us. She has published 23 books and is founder/executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and professor emerita of English and creative writing at Binghamton University–SUNY. www.mariagillan.com

About the Program Coordinator

Lisa Coll Nicolaou, a graduate of Yale University, is a lifelong educator and writer. For many years she was the creative writing teacher at The Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ and pioneered the school’s participation in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, resulting in over eighty regional and national awards. She was a recipient of a Scholastic Art and Writing Teaching Award and was named to the Educator Advisory Panel.

After decades of inspiring her students to write, Lisa finally embarked on a writing journey of her own. When she lost her way in life, poetry gave her a map to save herself. Lisa’s narrative poetry explores her complex roots, from the villages of Puerto Rico to the shtetls of Eastern Europe. Her prose and poetry have been published in a variety of magazines and literary journals including The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS and Oprah.com. In 2016 she shared first prize in the Allen Ginsberg Contest for her poem, “My True Religion is Kindness.” This past year she was named a finalist in the Laura Boss Narrative Poetry Award.

For the past six years, Lisa relished the opportunity to share her love of poetry and her love of teaching as a visiting poet in the Paterson schools. She tried to motivate the students to realize that they all have stories to tell. She is excited to be coordinating the TAPP program and is thrilled about the new cadre of poets who will be inspiring the students.

Poet Lisa Coll Nicolau

Poets in Residence

Rashad Wright

Rashad Wright

Rashad Wright is the former Poet Laureate of Jersey City, the only two-time Grandslam Champion of Jersey City Slam and was ranked 25th in the country at the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2018. He is a multidisciplinary performance writer and the author of Romeo’s Whiskey which blends poetry and memoir. He is a veteran of the United States National Guard and a graduate of New Jersey City University receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in English: Creative Writing.

Felicia Sherelle Capers

Felicia Sherelle Capers

Felicia Sherelle Capers is an author, poet, workshop leader, and writing and publishing consultant. She is the Communications Officer for Arts Reforming Communities, a New Jersey not for profit dedicated to transforming neighborhoods through the arts. She is on the Board of Directors for Word Seed Inc., whose mission is to bring the art form of writing to the forefront with youth workshops, literacy programs, and its annual production of the Paterson Poetry Festival each October. Felicia is a child advocate by trade, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Felicia studied Creative Writing at an arts high school in Paterson, New Jersey.

Jaquair Gillette

Jaquair Gillette

Hailing from the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and station stop on The Underground Railroad Paterson NJ, Jaquair is an actor, poet, and a producer. He is a three time featured poet at the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe in NYC. He is the annual open mic host of Paterson Poetry Festival and has performed in poetry cafes and venues across the U.S from New York City to Los Angeles. He recently released his highly reviewed debut spoken word poetry book entitled “Defiance & Desperation”, and a festival award-winning film entitled, “3rd & 4th Chapters” available on Youtube. He has performed in featured roles on Orange is The New Black, Godfather of Harlem, Tommy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Law & Order: Organized Crime. Jaquair continues to stay active in his hometown as a co-founding committee member of Paterson’s Green Acre Community Garden and as a commissioner on The Paterson Arts Exchange.

Jane Alberdeston

Jane Alberdeston

Jane Alberdeston Coralin teaches English literature and writing at Binghamton University (SUNY). Her work has been published in various anthologies and journals, such as Paterson Literary Review, Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature, The Acentos Review, Rock and Sling: A Journal of Witness. In 2006, she co-authored the novel Sister Chicas about three friends living in Chicago learning about what being a Latina means. Jane is working on completing her novel, Colony 51, and other story and poetry projects. She has happily worked with the Paterson Poet-in-the-Schools Program in the past and looks forward to working with students and teachers again.

Learn About
Our Programs

Learn About
Our Programs

TAPP offers flexible arts education programs at no cost to Paterson Public School. Check out what we have to offer to find out how we can support your education initiatives. 

Theater and Poetry Project 2022 © All Rights Reserved.

Scroll to Top