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Queens Village poet narrates life, nature, death

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Having dabbled in the first two during a career teaching mathematics at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan, the self-described late bloomer can now focus exclusively on flying, writing and promoting his first publicly released work, a self-published book of poems entitled "Touching the Sky."

On June 2 he took early retirement from Martin Luther King Jr. after 21 years. Though he called his departure "premature," he said he looked forward to working on his poems, short stories and novels.

"I've found this has been the high point of my life to get this book out," Dworsky said of "Touching the Sky," issued last month by Concrete Jungle Press, a small publishing company he founded.

The collection touches on the natural world, relationships, death and self-identity, among other themes, with Dworsky tracing its origins and title back to his childhood in New Jersey.

It was there that he explored the surrounding woods and tried to describe in poems what he encountered. He also listened to his immigrant grandfather spin yarns about old mother Russia, inheriting a gift for storytelling.

"To me it was so inspiring," Dworsky said. "I could feel the essence of this poor mountain town with no electricity."

He kept writing poetry and in his early 20s began submitting short stories to publications.

"I thought I was on my way, but I wasn't on my way at all," he said about the subsequent rejections he received. After seeing one of his manuscripts at the bottom of the pile in an editor's office, he became discouraged and put aside his writing. Instead, he became a teacher, remembering how he liked to get up in front of the class as a grade-school student.

It was not until he was well into his 30s that he started writing again, inspired by being reunited with his daughter after a divorce years earlier and by working with a friend on her medical newsletter.

He set a goal of producing 50 short stories one year and also wrote a series of unsucessful novels. To release his new book, he started his own publishing company, registered his work on established book lists, started promoting it with online literary communities and drove to small bookstores to get it placed.

It is now available through the author's Web site at www.dwaynedworksy.com.

Dworsky has taught himself public relations and advertising along the way, and relishes doing things for himself.

"You have to attack it on all fronts," he said of the promotional effort. "I find it more satisfying. You have a little more control."

He has plans to release a book of collected quips, then a novel, set in Russia and the first one he believes is worth publishing.

"I love my poetry but it's a prelude to bigger things," Dworsky said.

He also has plans to fly his plane more often, having gotten his pilot's license in 1996 after a boyhood spent watching small aircraft with his father.

Comparing flying to the writing life, Dworsky said, "The concept of a pilot is someone who leads the way."

He hopes to do the same with his writing.

"The last 21 years have taught me a great deal about the human element," Dworsky said. "Now that I'm retired I can devote myself to this 100 percent. I'm running out of time, quite frankly."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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