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Pizza and alienation: Fuel for a literary renaissance on Staten Island

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — We've always been a fan of the ADVANCED evenings of poetry slam because, well, who doesn't love hearing the sound of their own name?

But more that that, the spirited monthly gatherings at Richmond Hood Co. are a unique renaissance in the local literary community. They celebrate slam: a spoken word poetry competition performed before an audience and judges.

Organizers from Staten Island's literary magazine, NYSAI, fill Tariq Zaid's West Brighton clothing shop each month for the competitions, spotlighting a poet making waves beyond Staten Island. The group is hoping to compete for the first time in the national slam competition in Atlanta this year.

The nights of poetry slam are now broadcast monthly on CTV, but this Friday's will be a good one to catch. It features poet Thomas Fucaloro and the release of his second book, "Mistakes Disguised as Stars." The competition kicks off at 8 p.m. at the shop on 827 Castleton Ave.

Fucaloro, co-founder of Staten Island's literary magazine NYSAI Press, graduated with an MFA at the New School for Creative Writing. He has been on 3 national slam teams and was the Inspired Word's 2012 Grand Slam Champion. He just recently won a performance grant from Staten Island Arts, and was one of our young talents to watch out for in 2016.

Poetry from NYSAI Press member Thomas Fucaloro during VIRAL, a gallery show at Deep Tanks Studios in Tompkinsville Sunday night, featuring works of visual and musical artists. (Staten Island Advance/Ryan Lavis)

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