Faraguna makes bid for laureate

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An attorney, author, football coach, special education schoolteacher and street vendor would like to add another title to his long resume: poet laureate.

Fifty-two-year-old James Faraguna is launching a campaign to become the next Ken Siegelman, the borough’s beloved poet laureate who died in June.

“I think I need to,” Faraguna said of his poetic mission.

He recently posed in front of Borough Hall with his wife, Gunsel Yildirin, longtime family friend Fred Lee, and the entertainer who goes by the name King Henry, hoping to make a case for his ascension.

As poet laureate, Faraguna, who lives in the Midwood section of the borough, said his goal is to teach kids that “it’s okay to have feelings and to express yourself.”

He said his latest poem “Brooklyn is everything,” shows the many facets of the borough. “Brooklyn is full of everything­/it’s many things to me/everyone who lives right here has all they need come see,” the poem reads.

Faraguna is the author of the book, “America Lives in Brooklyn,” and is a disabled veteran, having suffered a fall from a helicopter when he was at West Point, he said. He said he coached American football in Istanbul, and practices law pro bono. He sells his wife’s photographs al fresco.

He said the motto for his campaign for poet laureate is “find a need and sell it.” “We have a need for kids to have feelings and connect with people in the twilight of their lives,” he reasoned. Being poet laureate would be “the mitzvah of my life,” he added.

This weekend, the borough’s poet laureate selection panel was announced. Members include Dionne Mack, Brooklyn Public Library; Anthony Vigorito, member of Brooklyn Poetry Outreach and associate of Ken Siegelman; Rob Casper, Poetry Society of America; Julie Agoos, Brooklyn College; and Linda Susan Jackson, Medgar Evers College. In the coming months, the panel will make recommendations to Borough President Marty Markowitz, according to his spokesperson, Laura Sinagra. “We are thrilled that Brooklyn has so many great poets,” she said.

Updated 3:41 pm, October 19, 2011
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