JOHN PIETARO is a writer, poet, spoken word artist and musician from Brooklyn NY. Columnist/critic of the NYC Jazz Record and curator of the West Village Word series at Café Bohemia, NYC, in 2020 he was commissioned by the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice for Shifting the Jazz Narrative: Photo Essays of Women Instrumentalists, with photographer Sherry Rubel. The pair are also working on Beneath the Underground, a book focusing on NYC's downtown free jazz, avant garde and post-punk musicians and poets. In 2019, Pietaro launched poetry chapbook Smoke Rings, and during the 2020 covid-19 lockdown completed short story collection Enduring Neon Moments. He is currently writing a novel.
Other recent credits include poetry or fiction for multiple international anthologies and journals Rye the Whiskey Review, Genre: Urban Arts, Ovunque Siamo, International Human Rights Arts Festival, Harbinger Asylum, and Italian-language anthology, Il Biglietto 2 edited/translated by Erika Dagnino (Genoa Italy: Sibello, 2018). Pietaro also penned short fiction collection Night People and Other Tales of Working New York (2013) and contributed a chapter to Paul Buhle and Harvey Pekar's SDS: A Graphic History (NY: Hill & Wang 2007). Pietaro is a contributing writer to Z, the Nation, the Wire (UK), CounterPunch, People's World, AllAboutJazz, Struggle and other progressive and arts periodicals.
Pietaro is director and host of the annual Dissident Arts Festival and has been a guest speaker at Left Forum and the Vision Festival. He presented writings at Great Weather for Media's Spoken Word Sundays, the Workers United Film Festival, the UpSurge JazzPoetry Festival and numerous other venues. As a multi-instrumentalist and/or spoken word artist, he's collaborated with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Amina Baraka, Karl Berger, Steve Dalachinsky, Erika Dagnino and others. He also fronts post-punk neo-Beat duo Shadows and spoken word/free jazz quartet the Red Microphone; the latter collaborated with Ms. Baraka on the recording Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone (ESP-Disk, 2017). Ms. Baraka also performed Pietaro's "Her Side of the Road" as a dramatic reading with music, Dissident Arts Festival, 2017.
“John Pietaro defies the disappearance of the proletarian writer. He is one, improbably, right now. Like Nelson Algren, whose prose his sometimes resembles, his triumph is to not turn away” - Paul Buhle, celebrated historian and author
"I've read Smoke Rings with great pleasure. Beautifully made, deeply evocative of a world I know well and cherish" - Steve Swallow, renowned musician
”Pietaro’s straightforward urban writing style is reminiscent of Beat literature, with a clear progressive view” - Anthony Mango, ‘People’s World’ book review
“John Pietaro is a creative and passionate writer wielding a take-no-prisoners clarity of voice” - Patricia Martin, poet/communications professional
"Pietaro's perceptions are really incredible. I'm only glad he has the ears to hear and the eyes to see!" - William Hooker, noted musician, poet and composer
-Enduring Neon Moments, short fiction collection (2020)
-The Mercer Stands Burning, poetry collection (2020)
-Commission: Shifting the Jazz Narrative: Photo Essays of Women Instrumentalists for Berklee College of Music's Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice (2020)
-Poetry or fiction published in anthologies:
Who Am I? (Wingless Dreamer, 2020)
Father and I (Wingless Dreamer, 2020)
Poems from the Lockdown (Willowdown UK, 2020)
-On the Creative Front: Essays on the Culture of Liberation (in prep for publication, 2021)
-Smoke Rings chapbook (2019)
-Poetry and fiction recently published in Rye (March 2020), Ovungue International (Jan 2020), Human Rights Arts Festival (Sept 2019), Harbinger Asylum (Spring 2019)
-Il Biglietto 2 (Genoa, Italy: Sibello, 2018) - "Passing Shadows in NYC Transit" contributed to this anthology edited/translated by Erika Dagnino
-Night People and Other Tales of Working New York fiction collection with a foreward by Paul Buhle (2013)
-Harvey Pekar/Paul Buhle’s SDS: A Graphic History - “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” contributed to this collection largely written by Pekar, edited by Buhle (Hill & Wang 2007)
-Magazine/blog credits (1999-present): The NYC Jazz Record (columnist), Z, The Nation, CounterPunch, the Wire (UK), Levure Litteraire, Jazz Right Now, People's World, Way Out West (Japan), the Industrial Worker, Struggle, Fifth Estate, Political Affairs, AllAboutJazz, the Socialist and many more
-Arts-activist blog: http://theCulturalWorker.blogspot.com
Literature as a weapon of social justice: A primary influence remains the work of Leftist militant writers of the 1910s-60s, the bold auters of literary fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, theatre works, reportage and screen- and teleplays that forged a new day. His work is also inspired by the writers of New York's punk and post-punk movements.
Pietaro is a proud member of the Author's Guild, the Academy of American Poets, the National Writers Union, PEN America, the Italian American Writers Association and the Jazz Journalists Association.
Pietaro curates West Village Word at the historic Cafe Bohemia (15 Barrow Street, NYC). THe monthly series on last Wednesdays features integrated poetry and music to conjure downtown's creative past and explore the spoken word sounds of today via JazzPoetry, Neo-Beat and Post-Punk verse.
Pietaro produces the annual Dissident Arts Festival, among numerous concerts, readings and panel discussions. Over the years he's organized multi-arts events throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as the Hudson Valley towns of Woodstock, Kingston, Beacon and New Paltz NY. Sites of his events or performances include NYC Town Hall, the Brecht Forum, Bowery Electric, the Jazz Gallery, El Taller Latino, ShapeShifter Lab, the Firehouse Space, Lady Stardust, the Knitting Factory, the Parkside Lounge, 5C Cultural Cafe, CBGB, Cornelia St Cafe, 17 Frost Theatre of Arts, Brooklyn Commons, Henry Winston Unity Hall, Lunch for Your Ears, Generator, Sidewalk Cafe, the Colony (Woodstock NY), the Byrdcliffe Theatre (Woodstock NY), Howland Cultural Center (Beacon NY), Union Square Park, Washington Square Park, Fort Green Park and more. Pietaro has been a guest speaker at Left Forum, the Workers Unite Fim Festival and the Vision Festival.
On the communications front, Pietaro founded New Masses Media with his wife and partner Laurie Towers as an indie publicity, production and publishing company.
As a percussionist, spoken word artist, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, he has performed and/or recorded with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Amina Baraka, Karl Berger’s Improvisers Orchestra, Charlee Ellerbe, Erika Dagnino, Ras Moshe's Music Now, Puma Perl, Harmolodic Monk and others. He also leads post-punk/neo-Beat duo Shadows and free jazz poetry quartet the Red Microphone; the latter ensemble collaborated with Amina Baraka in performance and recording (2015-18). Ms. Baraka also performed a dramatic reading of Pietaro’s work “Her Side of the Road”, August 2017.
‘Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone’ (ESP-Disk, 2017)
'Harmolodic Monk' (Unseen Rain 2014)
Erika Dagnino: 'Signs' (Slam 2013)
'The Red Microphone Speaks' (Dissident Arts 2012)
Flames of Discontent: 'Revenge of the Atom Spies' (2007)
Flames of Discontent: 'I Dreamed I Heard Joe Hill Last Night (Rhode Island Labor Society 2005)