From 1982 until 2002, Joe Weil worked as a tool grinder and union shop steward in a mold making plant in Kenilworth, New Jersey. Many of the poems in THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER LIGHT were written on the graveyard shift while on break at the factory. There, Weil read the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Ceasar Vallejo, Gabrielle Mistral, Miguel Hernandez, Robert Creely, Robert Kelly, and William Carlos Williams, as well as hundreds of contemporary poets. The poems in THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER LIGHT chart the history of his journey from tool grinder to lecturer at a major university. Weil claims the common thread of his poems to be his "Catholic worker" sensibility and his reading of the Spanish poets as well as Simone Weil and Flannery O'Connor. "I am a Catholic writer," Weil say. "I believe in Eucharistic reality...in beauty and truth hidden under the signs of what is broken and appears to be discounted." Weil agrees with George Bernanos: "...all is grace. But this grace is difficult, sometimes impossible to quarry." His poems are about the difficulty of quarrying grace in places from which no one expects anything to come-Elizabeth or Binghamton. "I expect to be ambushed by grace at any given moment," he says. "This," Weil shares, "is the great grandmother light, present at all times and in all places."
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About the Author
Joe Weil grew up in Elizabeth, NJ, the 4th largest city in that state and is listed as one of its historically noteworthy citizens along with Judy Blume and Mickey Spillane. He is the 2013 winner of the Working People's Poetry competition (Partisan Press). He is also a lecturer in the creative writing department at Binghamton University and currently lives in Binghamton with his wife, the poet Emily Vogel, and their infant daughter, Clare. Weil is the author of 4 chapbooks and 4 full-length books of poetry. A noted performer, he has combined poetry with music and performed in multi-media shows featuring the noted jazz composer and saxophonist, Sweet Sue Terry, and Vic Ruggerio, leader of the SKA band, The Slackers. Weil has read on PBS and NPR; been featured in the New York Times; in notable quotes for the New Yorker; in The Best American Poetry blog; and at many universities and art centers across the nation; including the Green Room in Chicago, The Detroit Opera House, the University of Pittsburgh, and Oklahoma Baptist University. He is co-editor with Adam Fitzgerald of the online poetry magazine, Maggy, and fiction editor of Ragazine. He is the author of THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER LIGHT (2013) and THE PLUMBER'S APPRENTICE (2009), both published by NYQ Books.