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LI Decentralization Grant For the Arts Awarded To Local Artist

Funds Used to Explore Forgiveness Through Poetry

The Huntington Arts Council, Inc. recently announced that Plainview artist Gayl Teller is the recipient of an award from the 2010 Long Island Decentralization Grants for the Arts Regrant Program. The grant is for “A Poetry of Forgiveness.” The awards for both Nassau and Suffolk counties were presented at a ceremony Friday, Feb. 26 at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Melville.

These grants are funded through the New York State Council on the Arts via the Huntington Arts Council. Funding decisions are made by a volunteer panel of Nassau County artists, arts professionals and community leaders. Grant recipients represent a huge range of artistic disciplines, including music, theater, poetry, dance, media and the humanities. The goals of the program include fostering an appreciation and participation in the arts and making the arts more accessible to the people of Long Island.

Named as the Nassau County Poet Laureate for 2009-2011, Teller received an MA from Columbia University and another MA from Queens College, CUNY. Her poetry collections are At the Intersection of Everything You Have Ever Loved, Shorehaven, Moving Day, and One Small Kindness. Her most recent poetry book, Inside the Embrace, was selected in national competition to be published by WordTech/Cherry Grove. Director and founder of the Poetry Reading Series, under the auspices of the New York State Council on the Arts, at the Mid-Island Y JCC, in Plainview, NY, for the past fourteen years, she has been teaching in the English department of Hofstra University since 1985.

Finalist for Nassau County Poet Laureate in 2007, she has conducted numerous poetry workshops and seminars and been the feature reader at many universities, poetry centers, and libraries. Her work has received the Edgar Allan Poe Prize, the Peninsula Library Poetry Prize, a National Federation of State Poetry Societies Prize, a National League of American PEN Women Prize, and The Connecticut Writer Prize; One Small Kindness was a finalist for the Blue Light Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2010 NY State Council on the Arts’ LI Decentralization Grant for the Arts for her workshops and anthology project A Poetry of Forgiveness. Her poems are widely published and anthologized, and her reviews of poetry books have appeared frequently in Small Press Review.

This grant will be used for Teller’s project Poetry of Forgiveness, Workshops and Anthology. In 6 workshop sessions, participants read and dialog on poems, which are used as prompts, according to Teller, and participants then write their own poetry. Various stages of forgiveness are explored including hurt, anger, denial, alienation, to insight, acceptance, healing, moving on, compassion, love, and transcendence. Teller is putting together an anthology of poems from people on Long Island, which will be published by All Books. This project must be completed in 2010 in accordance with the grant.

“Long Island is a hotbed for poetry. There are some great poets here,” said Teller. “This project is important and I think that living is one long exercise in forgiveness. This is a powerful project for me and the poetry is coming out great.”

In 1977, the New York State Council on the Arts developed the Decentralization program in response to a state legislative mandate that encouraged the administration and awarding of grant money at a local level. Through this program, nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists may apply annually for grants to help strengthen the arts and cultural programs in their communities. It is the intention of NYSCA that these funds, regranted through decentralization, provide developmental support to those organizations exhibiting quality programming, community support, and professionalism.

The Huntington Arts Council, the primary regranting agency for NYSCA, is a not-for-profit organization which enriches the quality of life of Long Islanders with programs and services that address the needs and interests of artists, cultural organizations and the community. The Council’s programs reach over one million Long Island residents, and it serves the entire region with its cultural listings at www.huntingtonarts.org. The Huntington Arts Council has been designated a “Primary Institution” by the New York State Council on the Arts, a title meaning “vital to the cultural life of New York State.” The Council is the official arts coordinating agency for the Town of Huntington, in addition to its services to over 600 member cultural organizations and individual artist members.

Teller has many events and workshops scheduled and more information can be found at www.gaylteller.com