John Pietaro M.A. is a writer, poet, journalist, spoken word artist and musician.
A staff columnist and critic of the NYC Jazz Record, he recently completed poetry chapbook Smoke Rings. Current projects include a novel, Of Seconds and Shadows and his performance ensembles Flames of Discontent and the Red Microphone. Pietaro is also engaging in a photo-journalism project with photographer Sherry Rubel, Beneath the Underground, chronicling the unheralded free jazz, post-punk and avant garde creative artists in today's New York City.
“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
”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, musician, poet and composer
-On the Creative Front: Essays on the Culture of Liberation (in prep for publication, 2020)
-Smoke Rings chapbook (2019)
-International Human Rights Arts Festival, September 2019: poem "Langston" published
-Harbinger Asylum, Spring 2019 issue: three poems published
-Il Biglietto 2 (Genoa, Italy: Sibello, 2018) - Pietaro contributed essay "Passing Shadows in NYC Transit" to this anthology edited/translated by Erika Dagnino
-Night People and Other Tales of Working New York with a foreward by Paul Buhle (2013)
-Harvey Pekar/Paul Buhle’s SDS: A Graphic History -Pietaro contributed chapter “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” to this collection largely written by Pekar, edited by Buhle (Hill & Wang 2007)
-Magazine/blog credits (1999-present): The NYC Jazz Record, Z, The Nation, CounterPunch, the Wire (UK), Levure Litteraire, 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 is at the core of his arts philosophy. 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.
On the communications front, Pietaro founded New Masses Media with his wife and partner Laurie Towers as a publicity, production and publishing company.
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 produces the annual Dissident Arts Festival (founded 2006) and curated the performance series New Masses Nights among numerous other 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/performances include NYC Town Hall, the Brecht Forum, El Taller Latino, ShapeShifter Lab, the Firehouse Space, the Knitting Factory, 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, the Byrdcliffe Theatre, Howland Cultural Center, 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.
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 Flames of Discontent 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.
Performance/cultural organizing site: www.DissidentArts.com
‘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)