Jack Freedman (poetry editor for NYC Voices) is the editor of TRAILS THROUGH THE GREENBELT: an anthology featuring poets, artists and writers of Staten Island” He has also authored, “SEROTONIN SEAS,” a collection of his own poetry. He, while still in his twenties, has proven that he has “come to play.” I, personally, arrive at the table skeptical of what, conceivably, can be wrought by a person, only starting to be blessed by the rewards of walking what need be a long lonesome highway. In important ways, life doesn’t pay off until later on. In the formative years, it is struggle, punctuated with doubt. There is no way to mask youth—Jack’s successes teach that green inexperience need not inhibit worthy productivity. He is new to this planet, yet he is smart, pays attention to the drama and is possessed with the compulsion to set his thoughts to pape

r. He has been writing long enough to do much toward mastering his own voice while determining his valued priorities. With this anthology, he has built a bridge to a borough, from which many feel estranged. He is happily announcing, “Enjoy the name of ‘Staten Island’ because many beautiful souls live here.” The anthology is important because it throws a spotlight on people, who deserve attention. Jack has done well to help that happen. His signature poem, “Stigma Busters,” mine, “We are the Wildflowers,” Lynn Morton’s, “Jesus Girl,” Jessica Banta’s, “The Stale Air/The Hospital Experience”, and Douglas Cala’s, “Stillborn Child” are among the scores of jewels, found within every writer, represented in these pages, shines brilliantly. It is a remarkable collection. Beyond the scores and scores of other fantastic Staten Island poetic creations in these pages, I am so happy to love, especially, the benediction which puts everything in perspective by reminding us of that which is of ultimate importance. John Amberger‘s prayer opens the doors to this collection with a sincere love of God. Jane Butters manifests her background in Hindu and Buddhist tradition by offering elegant, simple and beautiful illustration as well as clear, instructive writing, (“You Are the Song Of The Universe.”) Happy to bring sensuous, down-to earth realities to the poetic discussion are friends who do it here, rekindling the sparkle that reminds every reader of some treasured moments—Jill Avedon tells us of whispered kisses in “Midsummer Madness. The thought of slurping gelatos restores the flavor to Adrianna Goffredo’s poetic recollections of time spent in Italy—heart-rending romance holds Adrianna captive. She writes of it exactly knowing what one who has cried all the tears and laughed, triumphant in love, if but for a fleeting instant, can know—a beautiful young woman out to live courageously and fully—her poems here reflect all that.. L’Chelle Branson has put to paper some choice, plain-English about her appreciation of simple friendship. Jen Carlo has such an exciting grasp on life and fluidity in the speaking of it—her writing leaves one faint, exhausted, yet thrilled to have been awake for the ride. All in all, a great collection put forth by forty-eight writers. I sincerely recommend that all who can appreciate the arts and see that Staten Island is not a “cultural vacuum” read this anthology and see for themselves, as Jack puts it, that “Staten Island has a multitude of voices that would otherwise not be represented.”