Example of some of the interviews that have appeared in the hard copy issues of the The Seventh Quarry magazine

Charles Van Eman © 2018 Charles Van Eman


Charles Van Eman is an actor, writer, and director.  His television and film acting credits include Sea of Trees, Chasing Life, Reckless, Drop Dead Diva, 96 Minutes, Vampire Diaries, Prison Break, Ghost Whisperer, CSI Miami, and The Colbys.  Appearances on stage include, 15 Men in a Smoke-Filled Room, The Contract, The Goat or Who is Sylvia, The Christina Experiment, The Diaries of Adam and Eve, The Laramie Project, and Beyond Therapy.  He wrote and performed two solo shows, Jack’s Hat and Beginner’s Mind.  For the stage he directed, The Contract, The Other Place, Grandfather Speaks, and Spice.  For television and the web, he wrote, directed, and co-produced all 20 episodes of the award-winning Atlanta based series, High Rise.  He is the author of two novels, On The Way To Pomona and The Weight of Loss.  Early in his career he adapted for Random House seven Louis L’Amour short stories into internationally broadcast radio dramas.  He and his wife live in the woods north of Boston.

Visit his website:

Peter Thabit Jones: When did you start writing and who were the writers who most influenced you?

Charles Van Eman: I was a voracious reader as a child.  I would check out stacks of books first from the Book Mobile that would miraculously appear in the local shopping center parking lot and then later at the newly built Northland Library.  I remember writing stories and reading them in front of my 6th grade class.  Standing there, pencil-scrawled pages in hand, my classmates skeptical eyes on me, my teacher’s kind nods of encouragement, it was for me both a thrill and a terror to be reading my stories.  Maria, a talented writer in my class also shared her stories.  Closing my eyes and listening to her confident voice lead us through her prose is something I fondly remember to this day.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I got serious about writing.  Poetry was my first focus.  Rimbaud, Jim Carroll, Raymond Carver, Philip Levine, Charles Bukowski, Wendel Berry, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, and Allen Ginsburg, these were the writers stirring my imagination.  The high velocity prose of Beat writers Jack Kerouac, William Burrows, Neal Cassidy, and John Clellon Holmes captured me early on along with the work of Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Hunter S. Thompson, and John Steinbeck.  Then came Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, T.C. Boyle, Tom Robbins, Ethan Canin, Michael Chabon, Richard Ford, Barbara Kingsolver, and Cormac McCarthy. 


PTJ: Can you tell us how your acting career started.

CVE: The summer after my third year of college I was working a hospitality internship in Florida.  One day while scuba diving in the Keys the proverbial light bulb clicked on startling me in the realization that rather than being a business type like all the other men in my family, I was instead a creative person.  That’s when I decided to pursue an acting career.  I returned to college and along with finishing my business degree, I took several acting classes and did local theater.  Upon graduation, with a couple hundred dollars in my pocket, I rolled the dice and moved to Los Angeles.  With remarkable good luck, the generous support of teachers and my fellow struggling actors, I began to get work in the television and film industry.

PTJ: What are your thoughts about contemporary American drama for the theatre?

CVE: I recently was sent a link to an article in The Guardian informing me that the most popular playwright in America this season is Lauren Gunderson.  She will have 27 productions of her work go up in the 2017-2018 season.  (The survey excluded Shakespeare who will have 108 productions.  Who can compete with The Bard, right?)  In this rousing time of strong women’s voices, I am thrilled to see this brilliant 35-year-old playwright knocking it out of the park.  Upon reading the article I went to my office bookshelf and browsed through my collections of plays.  There were so few women playwrights represented that I felt a little silly.  What have I been missing out on?  So, to answer your question, I am looking forward to reading and going to the theater to see plays written by women.  

PTJ: What is your initial approach to writing a novel once you have the basic idea/ideas?

CVE: I do not plot out my stories ahead of time.  For me, it is a day to day discovery of where the story wants to go.  At some point, as the story gains momentum, I’ll get clues as to how aspects of it connect and I’ll jot those down.  But even then, I still try and stay open to see if something different wants to happen.  Much like acting, forcing an idea into a scene rather than staying present and going with what is actually happening, most often ends up coming across false and clunky.  Other than that, it’s about getting myself in front of my computer, connecting with the characters, and grinding it out every day. 

PTJ: What are you working on at the moment?

CVE: Years ago, I wrote a screenplay that I thought at the time was pretty good.  In 2017 I decided to adapt it into a novel.  After years away, I was able to see it with fresh eyes and in doing so have been forced to accept that this personal favorite of my early screenplay writing life is in fact a bit of a malcontent.  Lumpy, bumpy, but still confident of its bright spots it has been challenging me in new and ever more intriguing ways.  A political/environmental thriller, it is becoming a much more grounded, fully realized story.  That said, I still have a ton of work to do.   



South Florida rays hum
against my flesh.
Fresh lobster boiling
in the pot.

Warm water gently lapping
against my legs
the gulf stream pulls
my spirit out to sea.

I was cast adrift
in that campsite for 8 days
rum, rum, rum, rum, rum

Scuba diving
every day for meals --
fish, lobster, and
rum, rum, rum.

I let go of the lines
that secured me
I let the winds blow, the sail
lift me past the lights of a predetermined
I became a pirate.

Reveling in the tropical
breezes blowing
through the tent flap,
my thoughts listed out
over the reef into a
Jolly Roger galleon skimming
to port laden with booty.
Trusting the wind and currents
while the fiddler
played a jig, I danced
across the bow, draped in
gold chains, emeralds
and rubies in my pockets.
I roared and spit,
hollering for another mug
of rum.

Charles Van Eman     



It’s been seven years.
So much passes.
My boyhood toys are going
out the door.
Flying to cities beyond.

Hands I’ve never touched,
children I’ve never met will
imagine them soaring and roaring.
My father dead for seven years.
My toys on eBay.
His hands held the cars and
put the track together.
A Christmas morning
I have never forgotten.
Now someone else
will play with them.
Another father, I hope, and
his son.
Racing the track,
looping the loop.
Grins and tender hearts.

Charles Van Eman     


(for Sara)

In my spirit
there is space
that has been waiting to dance.
Quiet and still for so long,
patience and vigilance its oath.
Waiting for feeling, rhythm,
of thought and heart.
Peering into the hectic daze
of everyday existence,
this precious space watches for
a flicker, a vibration, a familiar tone.
A unifying force.
It feels like you.

Charles Van Eman     





Example of some of the interviews that have appeared in the hard copy issues of the The Seventh Quarry magazine 


Maria Mazziotti Gillan (c) 2017 the Poetry Center,
Passaic County Community College


Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the Director of the Creative Writing Program / The Binghamton Center for Writers, and a Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-State University of New York. She is the Founder and the Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ.
She has published eleven books of poetry, including The Weather of Old Seasons (Cross-Cultural Communications), Where I Come From, Things My Mother Told Me, Italian Women in Black Dresses and her latest book, All That Lies Between Us, (all by Guernica Editions).

She is co-editor with her daughter Jennifer of four anthologies: Unsettling America, Identity Lessons, and Growing Up Ethnic in America(Penguin/Putnam) and Italian-American Writers on New Jersey (Rutgers). She is the editor of the Paterson Literary Review. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The New York Times, Poetry Ireland, Connecticut Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Christian Science Monitor, LIPS, and Rattle, as well as numerous other journals and anthologies.

Maria’s book All The Lies Between Uswon the American Book Award in 2008. She has also won the 2008 Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Endeavor from Binghamton University, the 2008 Sheila Motton Award, Primo Nazionale Belmoro, the First Annual John Fante and Pietro di Donato Award, the Aniello Lauri Award, the May Sarton Award, the Fearing Houghton Award, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Poetry, and the American Literary Translators Association Award through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Literary Outreach and The Dare to Imagine Award from Very Special Arts.

Her poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. She has been interviewed and read her poems on National Public Radio’s (NPR) “All Things Considered”, “The Brian Lehrer Show”, “The Poet and the Poem”, “the Leonard Lopate Show”, as well as “in honor of National Poetry Month”, “The Charles Osgood Show” on CBS-Radio, also on Pacifica Radio, and Voice of America. She has also been featured on several PBS-TV (Public Broadcasting System) programs. Her books have been chosen as Editor’s Choice by Booklist, New York Public library Book List, and one of the American Library Association’s Outstanding Books for Lifelong Learners.

Her poems are included on state and national tests in North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Texas, and Italy.
She has read her poems numerous times at universities, festivals, and poetry centers throughout the USA and in Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Finland, Wales, and Ireland. The Maria Mazziotti Gillan Collection of her papers is housed at the Binghamton University Libraries.

Visit her website:


Peter Thabit Jones: It is several years since I last interviewed you for The Seventh Quarry, what have you been doing as a poet during that period?

Maria Mazziotti Gillan: I have a new book out called What Blooms inWinter(NYQ Press). I’ve been doing a lot of readings for it and of course, I am still Executive Director of the Poetry Center in Paterson, NJ, editor of the Paterson Literary Review, and Director of the Binghamton Center for Writers and the Creative Writing Program  at Binghamton University-SUNY where I am a professor of poetry.

PTJ: You have written the popular book, Writing poetry to save your life, about writing poetry.  What were your main intentions in putting together this instructive book?

MMG: I wanted to give people the courage to believe that the stories they need to tell in their writing are important and need to be told. The book is partly a memoir of how I found my own courage and a pep talk for other writers. I’ve included a large section of prompts designed to jump start other people’s writing.

PTJ: Kevin Carey, whom I met at the 2016 Massachusetts Poetry Festival, kindly gave me a copy of the DVD of his and Mark Hillringhouse’s wonderful film about you, All that lies between us.  How did it feel to watch a film about your life?

MMG: For me, it was very exciting and also very moving. It brought my connection to my Italian background and to Paterson into focus for me. I loved the film. They did a wonderful job on it.

PTJ: Please tell us something about the teacher who taught you and Allen Ginsberg. What did you gain from the experience?

MMG: Her name was Fraces Durban and in high school I was terribly shy. Ms. Durban would call on me each day to read poems aloud to the class. She knew I loved poetry as much as she did and I felt validated when she singled me out in a classroom full of very intelligent and privileged upper middle class students. I was poor and lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but I loved that she chose me.

PTJ: What is your approach to teaching poetry in the classroom?

MMG: In my classes, I try to what I do in my book. I try to make the room a safe place for my students, a place where they can tell the truth about their lives. I want them to write the poems that come from a very deep place inside themselves.