In this re-occurring series from Front Porch Storytelling, we feature local writers and share how they are creating community, one story at a time and the power of one person.
Get To Know Vincent T. Dacquino
Writing can be used as a tool for getting your word out, and author Vin Dacquino stresses the importance of using this talent to express oneself and help others.
A lecturer, former educator, and host of the Internet talk show “One On One TV,” Dacquino believes that writers need to do everything they can to spread their message and make themselves known to the world, emphasizing the risks that they face doing so.
“There’s a zone where only writers can go, and you have to bring it out so others can see it,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s a very dangerous and fragile thing to do. Once you put your heart on your sleeves, people may not like it and it can hurt. You have to have thick skin, and you have to be daring. You have to fight to get your word out. You get knocked down and rejected more than accepted. It’s not an easy ride. You learn from your lose and your pain. You need to work for what you believe in.”
Among the paths that Dacquino uses to help strengthen writers is through his workshops, which he began in 1997. These workshops lead to the creation of a program called the “Peanut Butter & Jelly” academy, which would take place after school and provide sandwiches, cookies, milk, and juice to students while they talked about what they write and their ideas.
The goal of these workshops was to provide an environment that would allow students to discuss their ideas freely and with as much time as they want, as Dacquino believes that students can’t express what they believe in 43-minute periods. The workshops have evolved into the Mahopac Writer’s group, where area writers come together to share their passion for reading and writing.
One way of of helping people is through bibliotherapy, an expressive therapy that involves the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. It uses the reader’s relationship to the content of books and other written words to deal with different issues.
Dacquino has dedicated his time to research on real life situations and people as inspiration for his work. Among his inspirations is Sean Callaghan, whose life story of going through cancer and writing a book called “Don’t Give Up” lead to the creation of Dacquino’s novel “Flowers By The Roadside,” an upcoming sequel to his book “Emails To A Paranormal.” Callaghan, who passed away at the age of 12, wrote his book in order to inspire others going through the same struggle to keep going despite the challenges that faced them.
A two-time cancer survivor himself, Dacquino emphasizes that these situations can inspire all people, including those who aren’t suffering from cancer, to work to achieve their dreams.
“I feel that this book does what I tried to do in the classroom- help kids become who they are. They’ll understand you can’t be a couch potato. You have to get out and mingle, fight for who you need to be, find out who you need to be,” he said.
“Every day of your life- you have to help people. If people who are dying can do it, people who aren’t need to get up and do something about it.”
Some of his other work inspired by real-life people and events include “Sybil Ludington,” which focuses on a local heroine who traveled on her horse to gather military forces to face approaching British Forces during the Revolutionary War, and “Kiss the Candy Days Good-Bye,” a story that he wrote for a child with diabetes and teaches all readers to not focus on your differences, but to instead be proud of who you are.
“Emails To A Paranormal” and “Flowers By The Roadside” serve as samples for diary poetry, a type of writing that Dacquino claims to be his signature form.
“It’s a very special style. It’s writing books through writing poetry. It’s systematic, it’s 10 lines, and it’s teachable,” Dacquino said, adding that he wants to get schools to teach diary poem writing to kids as a faster, more effective way of telling stories.
“It will take them a whole lot less time, and if they learn how to do this, they can write a book in a month, maybe a week,” he said. “It’s a system, and they’re gonna learn novel writing and poetry all at the same time.”
Among the diary poems that Dacquino has written is “Mary Loved Daisies,” which was dedicated to a young girl named Mary Benedicts, whose death was the first that Dacquino faced as a teacher. Having been in one of his sixth grade classes.
The book deals with the stages of death that people experience when someone close to them passes away. The story centers around an eighth-grade boy who is on the school wrestling team and goes to a tournament on the night he was supposed to go out with a girl named Mary. The character, Mary dies on that night. In addition to dealing with his parents getting a divorce, the boy must deal with the guilt that he feels over Mary’s death.
“He goes through the anger, he goes through the sorrow, he goes through guilt,” Dacquino said. “All of those things are built into this book.”
Dacquino views himself as a bibliotherapist and holds a master’s degree in bibliotherapy. He writes his books with the intention of helping people who are fighting against different issues. If someone approached him about going through a divorce or having AIDS, he would research these issues and write a story for them.
“One On One TV” has given Dacquino the opportunity to talk to other writers and influence at least 100 titles in the process. Community is the main message of his talk show, as he always starts off each episode saying that we are a community, and that a community is nothing without its people.
“It’s about getting the message of people’s passions out,” he said. “Being a writer is one thing, being a writer who wants to serve the people is another. You have to shout loudly to be heard. The show enables people with passions to get their word out.”
In addition to emphasizing the importance of people helping each other, the show also gives Dacquino the chance to serve as someone who helps others in his field become the writers that they aspire to be.
“I have to be the flame that ignites the ember that these people have,” he said. “That’s my job, and it’s a good job. It’s an important job because we all need each other.”
With help from his books and talk show, Dacquino hopes to keep helping people overcome their challenges, as well as inspire writers to be the best that they can be.
“I have to believe that what I do is for the cause, and I can’t say, ‘what’s the use?’ I know the use,” he said. “Somebody needs to be helped by what I do.”
For more information or to connect with this writer visit…
written by John F. Nassivera
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