The tragedy that took place September 11, 2001 has forever changed our lives. The memories it evokes remain constant in the life of poet, Craig Czury (pronounced Chury) of Reading.
In January of 2002, he was invited to read as a featured poet in the Greenwich Village Corelia Street Cafe. Russian film maker Oleg Osetinsky observed his reading while visiting New York City to film a documentary about the disastrous events of September 11. Czury's work was translated by fellow poet Irina Mashinskaia.
Czury works as a poet in writing programs for schools, homeless shelters, prisons, mental hospitals, and community centers. The boldness and personal appeal of his work has been nurtured in programs such as his recent Berks Poetry Project. Here, he served as a mentor and facilitator in the creation of multi-voice poem fusions with African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Anglo communities, and with children in juvenile lock-up.
Four months after the occurrence of 9/11, Ground Zero was still under tight security, entrenched in a massive undertaking of debris removal. An apartment balcony overlooking the Hudson River in the Tribeca region of the city, and a Hudson River pier were chosen as the reading sites for Czury's contribution to Osetinsky's film, which is being broadcast on Russian television.
In the film, the title of which translates loosely as Quiet Town New York City, the background to Czury's reading is a view of the "red flag" barges that hauled debris (including human remains) from the Twin Towers to Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The barges passed by on the river in Osetinsky's film - a continuous funeral procession - as Czury read his poetry.
The film also includes informal street interviews with New Yorkers. It is an independent film that continues to be distributed throughout Russia.
Czury spent five days working with the film maker and his cameraman Evgeny Porotov.
"Although we spoke different languages, I felt a connection to them," Czury said.
Of Polish and Ukrainian ancestry, Czury was raised by a Hungarian family in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
"From early childhood I developed an Old-World-inspired sense of humor, and passion for the tragedies of life," he said.
Czury will read the series of poems this September 11 at 7:30 p.m. in a commemorative gathering at the Susquehanna Gallery, in Harrisburg, where he is the featured poet in their weekly reading series.
Czury has read his works and participated in writing programs throughout the US and in Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Russia, and Argentina. This summer he was selected as a poetry instructor at the Pa. Governor's School for the Art, a five week program designed to mentor artistically gifted high school juniors.
In the box below, is one of the Czury's poems, with his introduction to it in italics. Both are reprinted by permission of Craig Czury, and are published in his most recent book, entitled In My Silence To Justify. The complete series of poems are called "Aphoristic Shrapnel." They can be viewed online at www.foothillspublishing.com