aaduna + HCCC = Empowerment and Learning

Tara Thierry, Cyd Charisse Fulton, Olivia Magdelene, bill berry Jr., aaduna @ Hudson County Community College, Jersey City, NJ  March 20, 2013

aaduna’s recent visit to Hudson County Community College’s Journal Square campus in Jersey City, NJ was made possible through a collaboration between bill berry and Joseph Caniglia, Reading & Development instructor affiliated with the Writing Center and Dr. Pamela Bandyopadhyay, associate dean for the Division of Academic Development and Support Services.

It is worth repeating that this event, organized with grant support from the Sovereign Foundation to enhance literacy and academic achievement, is becoming an annual event since aaduna initially visited the College during the spring 2012 semester.  Hurricane Sandy prevented the College from hosting a return visit during the fall 2012 semester, and the College extended the invitation to this spring’s semester.  aaduna presented contributing poets Cyd Charisse Fulton, Olivia Magdelene, and Tara Thierry who read their poetry; responded to student questions, and offered advice and commentary on students’ readings during the student open mic period.

Joe Pascale,HCCC Writing Center Coordinator

Joseph Pascale, Writing Center coordinator assessed the impact on students. "Having aaduna poets come to HCCC was a fantastic experience for the students. The response during the Q&A session showed that the students really connected with the poetry, and when the students had the chance to share their own poetry, they gave passionate and articulate readings. Not only was it a unique learning experience outside of the classroom, but it was clear that the students found it fun and exciting as well." –

Joseph Caniglia, HCCC, Reading & Development Instructor
“…this event gave students the opportunity to witness the artistic and creative ability of fellow poets from the aaduna organization.  The audience was filled with students, faculty, and staff members.  This event also provided students with the opportunity to express their creative side by reading poetry, which they wrote.  Many faculty and staff members have expressed how this event has helped to enhance students’ self-esteem and creativity.  This event was enjoyed by many and we hope to have the aaduna organization return to Hudson County Community College in the fall 2013 semester,” stated Joe Caniglia.

All the poets who participated had their poetry published in aaduna and elsewhere.  Cyd Charisse Fulton, a resident of West New York, NJ felt the event instilled a since of pride and accomplishment for the diverse HCCC students. 

Cyd Charisse Fulton
“I believe the goal was to establish creative partnerships and the mission was successfully accomplished with the much appreciated support of the Sovereign Foundation.  The unwavering commitment of aaduna to create an atmosphere where all artists, professional and novice, scholars and students can share their work on equal ground allows participants to share work without barriers.  Personally, during the HCCC event I was moved to tears because I was amazed and appreciative of the uninhibited content of each poet's work. I learned "truth" in art is a magnet. It draws, holds and lingers in the minds of those who receive the presentation. It is the responsibility of poets, regardless of preferred forms and techniques, to include authenticity in art. Through the HCCC event, I have garnered motivation to create new pieces and to revise old ones, stated Fulton.

At the start of the event, a student wondered why aaduna came to Hudson.  While Bill Berry responded, he noted that at the event’s conclusion, which lingered well past the two hour allotted time, there was no question as to “why aaduna chose to come to HCCC.”  Participants especially students experienced a session filled with a variety of creative expressions, spirited energy and mutual support regardless of one’s experience with poetry and spoken word.  Poets, as well as students shared a mutual exchange benefitting everyone. 

Abstract painter and poet, Olivia Magdelene felt enriched by the HCCC experience. 

“My experience at this event was nothing short of delightful. I have
Olivia Magdelene
not actively read my work in front of any audience in more than a decade. So to be among talented poets like Cyd Charisse Fulton and Tara Thierry was an absolute joy.

“I will say that I have been most intrigued by the students themselves. They were bright, verbally agile and engaging. It is not often that I have been witnessed [to] so many [who] are eager to share their work for open critique. I was also astounded by the sheer amount of talent in the room. I have attended events at Gotham Writers, New York University and The Cooper Union. None of these venues had the raw talent I saw in that room last week, especially in terms of spoken word performances.

“I came away with a reminder that Hudson County and other community colleges are rich reservoirs of today's next creative thinkers. As a person who studied oil painting at LaGuardia Community College myself, I was inspired by their passion and refreshing honesty. Therefore, I am proud to have been chosen by aaduna for this opportunity to shine a spotlight on these students. They remain a true reflection of the heartfelt commitment that Hudson County Community College [has] towards both the Arts and education. I hope that this event encourages other venues to follow suit to support our local community talent throughout the Tri-State area.”

aaduna remains committed to providing viable platforms for contributing poets, writers and artists to present their work to the public.  In addition, aaduna understands that appearances before students are a pathway of empowerment for these learners to share their writings with peers, and receive professional advice and counsel in a supportive communal environment that respects and embraces all levels of creative proficiency . 

Giovanni Rentas, HCCC student presents his work, aaduna poetry reading open mic session

Giovanni Rentas summed up this poetry event in a powerful way. 

“I attended the aaduna "Creativity and Written Word" event at Hudson Community College. This is my third semester at Hudson and I was waiting for an open mic event to happen at our college for a while now. I never expressed my poetry and thanks to aaduna, I was able to showcase my work. aaduna opened new doors of a variety of written word and styles from poets from different parts of the world. Cyd Charisse Fulton, Olivia Magdelene, D.D. and Tara Thierry were not only great poets, they were very down to earth and were very willing to answer our questions. After each student presented their work to the room, all three poets were very supportive and optimistic with their critiques. I was very pleased with aaduna as well for allowing all of us students to express any amount of material we desired. This was my first time expressing my work and I was a bit nervous, but the welcoming energy aaduna created, I felt at ease. I was shocked in how much praised I received. I appreciate aaduna for coming to our school, and because of them, I have a better appreciation for poetry, and a desire to keep pushing to write and inspire.”


  1. I was very pleased with the turnout for this event. I was also very pleased with the level of student participation. Hudson has many talented students. This forum gave students the opportunity to express their writings. I hope to have aaduna return in the fall to host another event. My sincere thanks to Mr. Bill Berry and the poets from aaduna for making this event possible.

  2. I am still talking about the event to colleagues and family. "Family..." yes, that describes the connection with aaduna and Hudson County Community College. Thank you to poets Olivia Magdelene, Tara Thierry, Bill Berry, Jr. (oh yes, Bill "puts it down" too)Giovanni Rentas, Mel and the rest of the participating HCCC students for teaching me and hearing me. I truly appreciate Joe Pascale and Joseph Caniglia for their unwavering commitment to us all. While poets "bleed" Lisa Brenan finesses in "the cut" archiving and absorbing atmosphere. Her audio and visual records of events are wonderful. Thank you all for the magic carpet ride. Let's stay connected. Peace.--CCFulton


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