Poet at work

By Sarah Slayman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Sarah Slayman
Poet R. Nikolas Macioci of Groveport at work at his desk.

R. Nikolas Macioci nearly flunked his one and only collegiate poetry course, but now he is a nationally recognized award-winning poet who has just released his 18th published book, “City of Hammers.”

As long as he can remember, words have unlocked vivid images for Groveport resident Macioci. He wrote his first poem at age six. A hardware store on Columbus’s south end held a contest with a prize to the child who could write a winning poem and he took home that prize. Though this was a championing event, Macioci didn’t write his next until he was in seventh grade. He excelled prior to any sort of training, his proficiency was intuition.

Educators encouraged him to continue and he later enrolled at The Ohio State University to study English. Macioci had one course in poetry there and received a “D,” but the next semester he won the school’s selected writing award. He went on to earn his PhD from The Ohio State University to work as an English teacher. A majority of his career was spent at Linden-McKinley High School where he developed a writer’s seminar and mentored a select group of students, some of whom continued on to become published poets themselves. He had a successful career for 30 years and later gained recognition from the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, as the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio.

He describes himself as a narrative poet who leans towards memoirs. His loved ones are often the focus of his pieces, for better or for worse, and he recognizes that traumatic experiences have often been a driving force for much of what he has created.

“It was initially a way of trying to make art out of pain” Macioci said. “Poetry is the language of feelings.”

His poem entitled “Knife” exemplifies this, provoked by the natural consequences of living with an alcoholic father.

One of his superpowers is never quite experiencing the infamous writer’s block. Macioci can write any where and the most mundane settings can be the most inspiring environments for him. He writes and collects his drafts in a large bag. When it comes time for a new book he often draws from it at random until he is able to gather enough to create a theme. He aims to mimic the simplicity of Mary Oliver’s creations. He deeply regards her work, beauty with a blatant and simple delivery is his preference. Macioci hopes to evoke in people what he feels when he listens to music – ethereal.

Macioci’s additional recognitions span throughout the decades by various groups. He won first place in the 1987 National Writer’s Union Poetry Competition, judged by Denise Levertov. He won The Baudelaire Award Competition, sponsored by The World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets (1989). He finished second in Zone 3’s Rainmaker Awards, judged by Howard Nemerov (1989) as well as second place in the Writer’s Digest annual competition, judged by Diane Wakoski (1991). He received the Blaine R. Hall Award for best poem of the year in Kentucky Poetry Review (1991). “Cafes of Childhood” was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and in 2021, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award. In 2022, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Most recently, he was nominated for a Best of the Net award for 2023, and “City of Hammers” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Hundreds of his poems have been published domestically and internationally in magazines and journals, including “Chiron Review,” “Concho River Review,”“The Bombay Review,” “The Raven’s Perch,” “The Main Street Rag,” and “West Trade Review.”

His work can be found for purchase under his name on Amazon. He additionally hosts readings in local spaces and brings copies of his work for purchase.

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