Maggie Dubris, 1994 Award Winner
WillieWorld, Maggie Dubris’ book-length poem/prose poem, was released by Cuz Editions (New York City) in 1998. The book was an outgrowth of Dubris' 10 years of work as an ambulance driver in New NYC's Hell Kitchen. It is a gritty and stunning portrait of the horrors and miracles found in America's abandoned inner cities.
Dubris received the Margolis Award when WillieWorld seemed unlikely to be published. “Winning the Margolis Award was really an emotional boost for me," she wrote at the time, "someone saying they believed what I was doing with this poem, that it was important enough to recognize and give an award to. Receiving this award helped me to stay committed to trying to get the poem published as a book.”
She retreated to Blue Mountain Center in 1998 to complete her novel Skels, about a medic and a homeless man in New York City. Her novel continues where WillieWorld left off, filling out her story with a wider vision -- one that includes a large dose of the humor necessary to survive in America's troubled cities.
In 2001, Dubris won a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship in poetry, and in 2002 she published Weep Not, My Wanton, which contains eight short stories and a re-edition of her prose-poem Willieworld.
Dubris completed a screenplay, The First Strange Adventure of The Bird, with writing partner Felicity Seidel, and an illustrated book, In The Dust Zone, with artist Scott Gillis. In addition, she created the Vanishing Birds Project with artist Linda Byrne and collaborated on a mixed-media book with artist Annie Silverman about vanishing pollinators.
For 10 years Dubris was the guitarist/songwriter for former New York band Homer Erotic (Homerica the Beautiful, Depth of Field records, 1999). She continued to work on several musical projects, including a collaborative CD with fiddler/composer Lisa Gutkin and songs with musician/songwriters Jeanie Putnam and David Hammond.
"Living in the East Village is always an adventure," she reports, ”It's noisy and there are thousands of homeless people, garbage piled up all over, sirens, motorcycles and screaming fights day and night. Plus the landlord is always hiring complete madmen and crack addicts to do repairs on the building, which is falling down around us and keeps bursting into flame. But they do sell great coffee at the Egyptian deli downstairs.”
Brokedown Palace, Dubris's ode to St. Clare's, the Hell's Kitchen hospital where she worked for more than 25 years, was published by SubPress in 2019. Luc Sante called it, "absorbing, funny, lyrical, and transcendentally sad, a stunning poetic monument to a New York City that no longer exists.”