Thomas Festa is a Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz, where he has taught since 2005. He is the author of a chapbook of poems, Earthen (Finishing Line Press, 2023) and a study of John Milton’s poetry, The End of Learning (Routledge, 2006), as well as over two dozen scholarly articles, and has co-edited four anthologies. Recent poems of his have appeared in Bennington Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Connecticut River Review, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Haibun Journal, and elsewhere.   

SUNY New Paltz Creative Writing Events

4/20 @ 7PM (Honors Center/College Hall, Campus Location TBD) – Professor Thomas Festa reads from his debut chapbook poetry, Earthen. Signed books will be for sale! 

Festa's "linguistically rich, taut poems show how the communities we create arise through acts of attention—between student and teacher, parent and child, lover and beloved. Evocative, contemplative, and often moving, Festa's poems inhabit these moments of attention that make us both more alive and more compassionate." –Carrie Etter 

This event is free to the community and sponsored by the English Department. Contact the department, 845-257-2720 or Kris Jansma, Creative Writing Director, for details: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  81 Hits

On the Death of Miles Davis

In the hospital where I was born, St. John's

in Santa Monica, my grandmother cared for Miles Davis

till they turned the machine off

and he breathed his last breath.

Before that, his breath and I

had only ever been connected by machines,

my father's abandoned record

collection, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain;

and concert t-shirts

for the Tutu and Amandla tours

I helped Keith make at work.

                                                                     She told

of the ravages he suffered, singular at the end

as he had been from the start, mightily

protesting himself into a coma.

                                                                     It is not

the tone of another world, but this one,

cussed and sutured so to heal,

scars within earshot. Not turning away

from the audience, as in later years onstage,

but outburst from a backlit thunderhead.

                                                                     She mentioned

flowers, followers,

hangers on,

ambivalences of family,

all peeled away, dropped

like petals

into municipal water

in a glass vase.

                                                                      I can't believe

Bitches Brew

is as old as I am.

What drove my grandmother's years of volunteering

comes to me like forgotten names of constellations.

Feline, lithe in your approach, we have hardly made you out

in the night sky, nor can we glean your shape,

a breath through innermost brightness, the bell

of that last trumpet. Another, tolling.

Each one of us listening, sounding

the syncopated notes of our own desolation.

-Thomas Festa

(first published in Lightwood 2020)

  87 Hits

Snowbound, Evening Light

We have been here before,
so it will occur to us
on the other side
when we reach out our fingertips like leaves
for the last light,
we have never been.

(first published in Chronogram, May 2021) 

  80 Hits