Cardinal Points

Interview from Cardinal Points

Cardinal Points, SUNY Plattsburgh

Befriended author returns for reading

By Yessenia Funes

Contributing writer

Former Plattsburgh State English professor Michael Carrino’s new poetry book is full of free-verse, few rhymes and, as his buddy and coworker PSUC English professor Jose Torres said, crisp lines.

After having published four books, Carrino merged his collection with new poems into a fifth book “By Available Light.” He held a poetry reading on campus Sept. 20.

“I would say I’m a poet of memory and relationships, unrequited love, but I wouldn’t call myself predominantly a romantic poet,” Carrino said.

His books include “Some Rescues,” “Under this Combustible Sky,” “Café Sonata,” and “Autumn’s Return to the Maple Pavilion.” Carrino said the titles derive from a title, poem or line in the book. After working on a manuscript for a while, one can sense the rhythm or underlying theme, he said. “Naturally, you want to hook (the reader) as much as possible,” Carrino said.

His books have sold fairly well for a small market, Carrino said. However, poetry does not sell the way novels do. Carrino said poetry is not “Fifty Shades of Grey” or Harry Potter.

“He (Carrino) achieves complexity with simplicity,” Morrissey said.

Carrino said naming is apparent throughout his books and teaches his students the importance of naming in poetry. Instead of just saying there was a street or person, he said to name it.  “The names have power, and they come from memory or experience,” Carrino said. “Those names have meaning … They make their own metaphors.”

Many of Carrino’s first poems were about memories with his family. He said relationships were big for him and does not know if writing poetry would be possible without people. Carrino has written poems about specific places in Brooklyn because his dad used to take him there.

“With a Michael Carrino poem, you’ll always feel like you’re there,” Torres said.

Though Carrino was not always a poet, he got started when attending PSUC. Carrino was an education major, so he had to take English courses. They became his favorite. By the end of his undergraduate studies, Carrino was writing seriously but had yet to expose it.

Torres said Carrino’s work dares to be beautiful. It has sound, rhythm and musicality. Carrino sees the importance of literature and poetry in means of personal discovery and self-expression, which also amplified his teaching, Thomas Morrissey, chair of the English department, said.

“He enjoys the work and thinks it’s a service to the profession of writing, but it’s a service that can only be performed by someone who knows writing, which he does,” Morrissey said.

Having taught here for 23 years, Carrino was the Saranac Review’s cofounder and continues as its poetry editor. The literary journal is international and publishes work from Canada, Europe, New England and the Midwest.

“I think he’s (Carrino) almost an indispensable asset (to the Saranac Review),” Morrissey said.

His work has also been published in several magazines, including Poetry East, Slant and The Dalhousie Review. Carrino said as poet or fiction writer, it is important to get published in magazines first. Then, one can come up with a book.

“Part of writing is sharing,” he said.



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