YOU READ IT HERE FIRST
: A retired letter carrier charged with stalking two teen girls is also an author known in North Jersey literary circles:
62-year-old Joe M. Del Priore’s work includes a chilling poem, published by the Palisades Park Public Library, about his thoughts sitting next to an innocent young girl.
“ Child playing with car keys
Squirming across the couch ,” the poem reads.
“ My arms corralling her small- boned dialogue
She exhales squirming smoke, hits the accelerator
What gurgling sounds can I make to calm her? ”
( For the full poem, see below .)MUGSHOT: COURTESY BERGEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE; FACEBOOK PHOTO
UPDATE : Susan Kumar, director of the Palisades Park Public Library, responded to an email from CLIFFVIEW PILOT after this story was published.
“It is unfortunate that a poem by an accused stalker was published by the Library; as you are aware, however, Mr. Del Priore is innocent until proven guilty. We will do whatever is necessary to help in this investigation.”
Detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office arrested Del Priore at his North Bergen home this week after receiving reports that he’d been seen taking a large number of photographs of female athletes and cheerleaders at high school games in Bergen, Essex and Passaic counties.
Investigators seized a digital camera that they said contained 1,400 images — many of them of two girls, in particular.
Two weeks before he snapped some of those shots on the Old Tappan campus of Northern Valley Regional High School, Del Priore read from and signed copies of his first collection of short fiction, “Twilight People (Switchblade Stories),” at the Montclair Public Library. The collection, published earlier this year, is described as “forty surreal flash-fiction pieces.”
“I want to keep people awake at night thinking about my stories,” Del Priore wrote.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli wants to do the exact opposite.
Del Priore at the Montclair event
Wasting no time, the prosecutor this week issued an alert to area school districts and police, with a photo of Del Priore.
“[As] a condition of bail, he is not permitted on any public or private school property,” Molinelli wrote. “If [Del Priore] is observed on or near school property, school officials should immediately contact local law enforcement.”
As part of the aggressive, pro-active move, the prosecutor asked each public and private school in Bergen County to “take the appropriate steps to inform parents” of the notice.
Molinelli even made sure to identify Del Priore’s silver, 2007 Hyundai Accent, a four-door sedan with the New Jersey license plate: HHL-21B .
The information is considered important: By his own account, Del Priore — who lives on a dead nd at 68th Street in North Bergen, just two blocks up the hill from Tonnelle Avenue — covers a lot of ground.
“I am currently in four writing critique groups and a number of book discussion groups,” he notes in a bio promoting his book (which, like most of the material in this story, was found through a Google.com search). A couple of film students also debuted a film inspired by one of Del Priore’s short pieces. “It was exciting to see my name up in the credits,” he wrote recently on a message board.
Excerpt from “ Twilight People (Switchblade Stories) ”:
“ Here’s the thing-you can’t refreeze zombie parts. Once you’ve killed a zombie and chopped it up,you either bury it in the yard or feed it to the dogs. You don’t stick them in the freezer, serve them as appetizers. then refreeze the leftovers. “
A Rutgers University graduate who also worked briefly as a schoolteacher, Del Priore retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2006 after nearly 30 years. Since 1982, he boasts a trove of published work that includes, as he puts it, “short stories, poetry, essays, journalism, reviews, profiles, monologues, skits, plays, and outright rants.”
Some have been published in The Hudson Current, the Village Voice, the Bergen Record and elsewhere, according to a book-signing promo from The Fine Grind coffee bar in Little Falls — the same town where authorities said he snapped photos of the two Northern Valley girls during an “away” game.
As influences, Del Priore cites Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Stephen King, and Franz Kafka — as well as Larry David and Bruce Jay Friedman.
“I work better in the flash fiction shorter form and have over four hundred such pieces,” Del Priore writes on authorsden.com . “My theater pieces have been performed in New York and New Jersey over the past fifteen years.”
Del Priore officially is charged with stalking as a result of two incidents last month in which he was seen “taking photographs of teenage female high school students at sporting events” at the Northern Valley Regional/ Old Tappan High School campus, Molinelli said.
Two girls showed up most often in his collection, leading directly to the stalking charges, the prosecutor explained.
Delpriore was also seen at various volleyball and soccer games, tennis matches, and track and field events, paying his way in each time — including to the match in Little Falls, the prosecutor said.
Molinelli asked that anyone with related information about Del Priore call the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit: (201) 226-5620.
Del Priore with “Second Glance” co-director/editor Robert Nguyen, cast members Laura Williams & Tod Engle (next to Del Priore)
According to a July 16, 2010 story posted on the Hudson Reporter ‘s website: “Del Priore, a North Bergen resident who used to live in Weehawken, has amused and intrigued Reporter readers for years with his satirical essays in the Hudson Current and Midweek Reporter newspapers.”
In one of those essays, he urges a transplanted Hoboken mom to move back to the suburbs so she can give her daughter a “healthier” environment to “freely run around” while taking advantage of what he said are better schools.
The article also says that “having few close friends and no close family of his own has equaled more time [for Del Priore] to write.”
Earlier this month, the short film “Second Glance” — shot mostly in Central Park — played as part of the NewFilmmakers New York fall program at the Anthology Film Archives (photo, left). According to one of its creators, Robert Nguyen, it “originated as one of a series of short plays and monologues that Joe had written.” Its primary influence is a a Del Priore story “The Gulf.”
Like Del Priore’s fiction, the seven-minute “Second Glance” goes by in a flash.
(For more about the film, including the trailer and a behind-the-scenes video, go to: Second Glance, the Film )
The poem cited earlier in this article was published by the Palisades Park Public Library Multimedia Center in a 2008 collection:
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