Writing Confessional Poetry

I have been writing a few confessional poems lately. It has not been easy. I guess the reasons are at least a couple. The first one is that I find it difficult to talk about myself. But, I also feel that I have reached an age where I can more easily deal with sides of my past that have left a scar. The second reason is that most of the times I end up writing confessional poems as prose poems. I think I am still mastering the art and do not feel always very comfortable with it. This must also be the reason why I choose it. The topics are uncomfortable, and so must be my writing.

If most of the times I write a poem on the spur of the moment, with little if no editing at all, writing a prose poem becomes a real task. I write many drafts. I cut out so much of what I wrote initially and yet these poems end up being much, much longer than my non-prose poems. 

I have just finshed writing a poem called Unter den Linden, as the name of the Avenue leading to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It deals with events that took place 15 years ago. It took me many days to complete it. It was a very hard poem to write in terms of subject matter. It brought back to my mind many beautiful and yet sad moments. It made me realize the importance of friendship. I am including a few pictures of places I mention, here below, just to give you a feel of the atmosphere that pemeates my words in this poem. I also mention two of my loves in this poem: a character from a poem by Rainer M. Rilke and Damiel, the angel interpreted by Bruno Ganz, in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, simply one of my favorite movies.

I wonder how many magazines will be interested in my confessional poems. I expect many rejections in the long run, One of them was rejected this week, but it comforted me that the Editor wrote that she found it compelling. Another poem, It Was the Magnolia Tree, was published in Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal last month. It is confessional poem, but it's not a prose poem this time. You may read it here!

Unter den Linden & the Brandenburg Gate
The Pergamon Altar
The Victory Column (aka Goldelse)
Bruno Ganz as Damiel & Goldelse in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire


Persephone, Patti & Me

Long-distance relationships require a lot of patience and love. This is what I tell myself every time John flies back to the States. It is hard and I feel pretty much like Demeter who has to let Persephone head back to Hades. Well California is not exactly Hades, but I hope to have conveyed the message. I am ready to keep myself as busy as I can till next summer. It won't be hard this year. I am currently managing Pandemonium (aka as my translation agency) all by myself since the month of September. It is hard and engaging, but a beautiful endeavor as always. I am also resuming my work on the WIPs. And, getting ready for more reading too. I have a pile of TBR books and two brand new additions I bought in the past few days that I simply cannot wait to read: Toni Morrison's latest novel, God Help the Child, and Patti Smith's M-Train.

And so, John has just left Rome. Jack is in Italy, but not heading to Rome this year. Alas, fall does not tread lightly. Let the winter of our discontent come. I am well equipped!


10 Books I Have Been Reading This Summer.

Summer comes as a blessing, It is definitely the season in which I manage to come to terms with my creative side. I write, I read, I watch movies and I try to soak in as much art as possible. Since last June I have read more books than I'd thought I might be able to. Here is a list of ten I have been reading or am currently reading. They are all novels or short stories collections. Indeed I love my poetry, but I tend to read more poetry during the rest of the year!

1) John Claude Smith, Riding the Centipede (Omnium Gatherum, 2015)

Riding the Centipede is John's debut novel. I was curious to read it, as I have always enjoyed his writing. John loves his winding tours into the weird and this is indeed a ride, but I strongly encourage you to give it a spin. Here are some of the ingredients: a private investigator, a Hollywood socialite, a ghost choosing to Ride the Centipede to the ultimate experience, William S. Burroughs, Marylin Monroe, Frida Kahlo's lost painting and a nuclear menace named Rudolf Chernobyl. Get your print copy or Kindle e-book here! <3

2) Elizabeth Kostova, The Swan Thieves

As many of you know, I do love my Art! I bought this novel for a couple of Euros in a used bookstore and fell in love with the story. An artist gone insane painting over and over the same woman and making life hard for his wife and lover. The same artist almost stabbing a painting in an art gallery and stops speaking from then on. A series of old letters the artist owns. And, how a patient psychiatrist manages to understand the "why" in a journey through time and art linking the 19th century to the present times. 

3) Magda Szabo, Iza's Ballad*

This novel has been translated into English from Hungarian by poet George Szirtes and it is set in Hungary in the 60s. Iza, a brilliant doctor, finds herself battling with her old mother once her father dies. The path is not as smooth as she had imagined, particularly when she decides to have her mother relocate with her in Budapest. Family relationships can be so hard at times. Do we always know what is best for the people we love? This novel is harrowing. It will stay with me for a long, long time.

4, 5 & 6) Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories*

These tales are wonderful. I loved the surreal elements and the beautiful, charged descriptions: a treasure trove full of magic realism and amazing writing. I have also read Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons again this summer. And, his Memories of My Melancholy Whores for the first time. Can one ever have enough of Marquez? I guess not!


7) Ken Follett, World Without End

After having read the over 1,000 pages of The Pillars of the Earth in 3 weeks time, last Christmas, I have avidly devoured its sequel. Follett knows his history well and his extensive research and lively writing make his books so full of life. A superb page-turner!

8) Georgia O'Keeffe, Memorie

A lean book that has left a mark. I have always been a fan of Georgia O'Keeffe's work, but I definitely feel I know her much better now. Reading O'Keeffe's memories, particularly about her love for Alfred Stieglitz and the way she strived to paint in her own amazing, unique way was fascinating.

9) Toni Morrison, A Mercy

It seems ages since I wrote my dissertation on Toni Morrison's first six novels. I can't help reading her novels over and over again. I reread at least one per year. Beloved and The Bluest Eye are perhaps my favorite, but they are so devastating that I find it hard to read them too often. I do skim through their pages often. This year I chose to reread A Mercy, a brief, intense, vision of America's genesis.

10) Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus

I have just started reading this book. It is a joy. The story of Sophie Fevvers, a 19th century virago-like aerialiste born from an an egg and abandoned as a baby in a basket to be raised by the prostitutes of a brothel, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec and admired by many men, is leaving a great impression. Not to mention Angela Carter's dazzling writing. When I grow up, I want to be like her. I mean Angela, not the aerialiste! ;)

* I am unable to add the right accents to these authors' surnames. Consider them there, even if they are not!


Writing, again

It seems I am writing poems again after being on a hiatus. I am not one of those writers/poets who sits at the desk and starts writing. I cannot force myself to write, if I do, I will end up writing a poem without "voice." I always "struggle" with my Muse. I realize many consider the Muse unnecessary to write. Many believe that writing comes from hard work only. True, but then I guess I must belong to a different breed of writers. I love the act of creation when it happens, but I also know that I can't open my notebook, stare at the blank page and fill it for the sake of filling it. Writing comes to me. It is a gift. Something triggers my imagination and words pour on the page.  And, I hardly ever edit my poems. When they come to me, they are "perfect." Or, so they seem to me.

Humbert and Lolita made their appearance in the first poem I wrote a few days ago. I was thinking at how, as much as I love Nabokov, I detest his novel Lolita. I must confess of having found it tedious. I also believe that, having just watched the movie An Education again, helped me give the poem a completely new and unexpected twist.

Welcome back, Poetry!


Just Like When Hadrian Wrote Poems

Just Like When Hadrian Wrote Poems

hidden in the Maritime
Theater - his room of
his own - quill in hand
on the artificial island
surrounded by waters

rich in carps, reflecting
the marble colonnade,
fighting his sporadic
moods and talking in
Greek and Latin to his

two Muses, skipping the
occasional stone on the
pond of his writing,
reflecting on life’s end
with the lucidity of his ink.

Animula, vagula blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula rigida nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos…

It’s that flow of his
writing I feel today
waking in me amidst
the yelling cicadas
and the twisted olive

trees in his Villa in former
Tibur, walking along
the statues mirroring themselves
in the Canopus. There is Mars
on the warpath, shield in

hand and there winged Mercury 
almost ready to soar with
the local iridescent dragonfly.
Headless Venus winks her eye 
to Antinous’ head drifting along

the currents of the Emperor’s
thoughts. Hadrian writes
his best known poem
again today over the island
for me to hear.

Little soul, you charming little wanderer,
my body's guest and partner, 
where are you off to now? Somewhere
You'll crack no more of your jokes once you're there.

without color, savage and bare; 
You'll crack no more of your jokes once you're there.

I wrote this poem after visiting Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli 3 or maybe 4 years ago. It was published in The Rusty Nail. I am very fond of Hadrian, who was a wise Emperor and an amazing intellectual. He was a poet, too. If you have not read Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, you should. And, I hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE)

Hadrian's Villa, The Canopus


Best of the Net Nomination!

I was happy to receive an e-mail from NonBinary Review's Editors, Lise Quintana and Allie Marini, this week, informing me that my poem "Bound to Her Father's Spear Hurled Over the River's Current" was nominated for the Best of the Net Award! The poem appeared in Bullfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable's issue published last Spring and it was inspired by the myth of Camilla, a woman warrior I am very fond of. I still own the book where I first read about her aged 8 or 9.

You may admire this issue's amazing cover by MANDEM here below. And, you can get a free copy of the issue by downloading the Lithomobilus app for i-Phone or i-Pad.

This is my second Best of the Net nomination. I was nominated by Cease, Cows two years ago for my poem "Baltic Dream with Dostoevsky." I am very pleased to be nominated again. For a Pushcart nomination there is still hope, I guess! ;)


Artworks from "Belgians: Barbarians & Poets" exhibition at Rome's MACRO

A few stills from a recent visit to the MACRO Museum. As usual there were plenty of artists on show, but the main exhibition was truly stunning and well worth the price paid for it.

MACRO's Courtyard

Paul Delvaux, The Conversation   

James Ensor, From Laughter to Tears

Félicien Rops, Pornocrates

René Magritte, L'Oracle

Camille d'havé

Johan Muyle, Ni un paso atras

Koen Vanmechelen, The Unicorn

Jean-Luc Vanmechelen, Jésus Christ

Pascal Bernier & Phil Van Duynen