Thursday Spotlight: Meet Paul Kielmanowicz, a Polish Poet and Native Greenpointer

Native Brooklynite Paul Kielmanowicz with his book of poems

It’s high time we celebrate the hometown hero: Paul Kielmanowicz is a Greenpoint poet, born and raised, with the purest and most New York of stories: he writes on the subway and distributes his art communally. His book of poems, A Carefully Curated Chemistry, isn’t quite for sale — but he’ll tell you more about that. His poems simultaneously possess the largeness of mythology with the smallness of our fragile lives on this planet; indeed, his poems often discuss the earth and its natural splendor. Patient and probing, Kielmanowicz — who writes under the name P. E. Warren — captures in his work a delicate spirit rarely found in the competitive grit of New York. Get to know the local artist in our interview below:

Greenpointers: You grew up in Greenpoint, yes? What has it been like to see the neighborhood evolve? 

P. E. Warren: I sure did. Grew up on Russell Street, between Nassau and Norman Avenue, until the age 17. My parents purchased a single-family dwelling in Glendale, Queens, while I was entering my senior year of high school. My mother and father arrived in the New York as immigrants; they’re now citizens. My brother and I were born New Yorkers. I’m of Polish decent — 100% — but I tend to label myself as “Brooklyn,” when asked of my ethnicity. That might be perceived as foolishly amusing to some, but is fully sufficient for me. As a first-generation New Yorker, and Greenpointer, the city and neighborhood’s changed. It’s tough for me to use “evolution” to describe the happenings. Modification. I think modification’s fitting. Well. It has been an adjustment. Money is a dominance. It’ll be until it no longer is. It’s disappointing, to me at least, how intense of a power to influence or direct people’s behaviors it encompasses. But nonetheless, truthfully, the neighborhood’s safer from the days of the 90s, making it all right. Folks seem to be encountering less of the roughness. My motion, whether it be solely derived from a common aspect of adolescence most experience I cannot be sure, however, I find that I’m rarely walking out from our three-story low-rise rowhouse’s entrance vestibule onto the stoop and peering up and down the block before taking that last step down to hit the sidewalk and go about my day. The beauty of the neighborhood: we, the locals, are the living landmarks. I’ll forever put Greenpoint before myself, before my own name.     

How long have you identified as a poet? 

For as long as I can remember, all my life I’ve had this indefinable discernment, supplemented with a contemplative makeup. It could have been spurred on from my Catholic upbringing. Acting on this knack of writing began during winter in the first months of 2017. I suppose I’m a poet.

You write poems on Instagram, which has become more of a trend. What is your handle, and how do you find using that medium to share your work?

 At times. I don’t oversaturate. I’m not that important publicly, nor as a writer, whereas I have a colossal amount of followers tracking my account. If ever, in some alternate realm, I were to reach such an acclaim, I’d probably not be okay with it. It’d be harrowing, I think. When I do post, it will not always but oftentimes be a poem; I do my best to write something — a quote, etc. — original with the selected photo. My Instagram handle: @a_carefully_curated_chemistry.

Paul Kielmanowicz’s book of poems

Where do you work best/where is your favorite place to write?

Public transportation. I commute to Manhattan daily. I commute on the bus, then, the train. I’m an avid reader. I spend nearly each minute during the travel reading. If I encounter a particular interest to me that’s significant whereas it strikes a chord, I’ll put the book down and center my focus on writing something in conjunction with the read. Nowadays, tangible books are like sacred relics. There’s a lot to garner from them, especially for creativity’s purpose. Growing older, I’m cherishing those I hold and own, handling them with better caring attention and appreciation. I enjoy(ed) writing in the bars.

What was it like to release a book of your poems and where can readers find your book for purchasing?

It was simultaneously challenging and stimulating. I was fortunate to have the help of my editor, Kallie Falandays (Tell Tell Poetry), and designer, Kailani Andrade, to make it that which it is in its physical form today. Richard Parker, aka Made Rich (Think Before You Ink), is the artist behind the captivating images on the book’s front and back cover. George Orwell in his essay “Why I Write,” wrote it best: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” The book’s not for sale. I’m passing it along, for free, throughout NYC’s park in the city. However, I am collecting money via Venmo. Each person interested in receiving a copy ($11.99 – barcode price – to cover USPS shipping costs) will receive two copies — one to keep, the other to share with another with an avidity for poetry, or reading overall. Account: www.venmo.com/PEWarren

Any upcoming projects or art you’re interested in?

I haven’t been to The MET since the “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer” exhibition. My cousin adores Vermeer’s masterpieces, and I — once by default, now by conscious choice — too, am an admirer of his works. I’ll check out the “In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met” exhibition soon.

Paul Kielmanowicz

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Vanity Fair, American Theatre, HowlRound, Observer, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

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