Writing Prose Poems About the 70s

I must say that as much as I have always admired prose poetry, I have never tried writing any because it seemed to me that I had no real skills at it. But, last weekend I suddenly recalled episodes from my childhood in the 70s, specifically memories of the Years of Lead in Italy and of my father, and I ended up writing one. I sent it to my poetical sister, Michelle Reale, whose prose poetry is magical, so much so that I often return to read her collections because I can't have enough of them and I love wandering in her soulscapes for a long, long time. I wanted Michelle to honestly tell me what she thought of it. Her reply made me incredibly happy. She wrote:

Sorella, this is outstanding, and let me tell you why: it is highly evocative, and imagistic. It feels incredibly satisfying in this form, and, I dare say, you are quite adept at this form, which is truly my favorite! For me, an as exemplified by Seventies Blues, you encompass a whole world here. This poem made me want to linger in it, to soak it up! I hope you will continue writing prose poems!

Today I wrote my second 70s prose poem. I guess this might become a habit! :)


Sylvia Plath & Amelia Rosselli

February 11th is a date I cannot forget, being the death anniversary of two women poets I truly love. Sylvia Plath's death makes of her an iconic martyr immolating herself on the altar of Pain. Reading about her death and her last few acts before sealing the kitchen's door inspired one my poems, "Milk and Bread," that was first published by editor Cooper Renner in elimae and that can be read in my They Talk About Death chapbook. I am certainly not the only poet who was inspired by Sylvia's death. Thomas Rain Crowe wrote a beautiful poem--"Poem for Sylvia Plath Without Even Lighting the Stove"-- on the subject that you may read here and so did Tania Pryputniewicz in her "Sylvia III," from her November Butterfly collection.

Amelia Rosselli was one of Italy's best women poets. I have always admired her craft in writing her lines in either Italian, English or French. Her mother was English and her father, Carlo Rosselli, was a famous left-wing Italian political leader who had been forced into exile under Mussolini and who was assassinated in France when Amelia was barely seven. After years of living abroad in France, England and the United States, she finally settled in Rome. Rosselli was a translator too. Plath was a poet very dear to her. No wonder she chose defenestration on Plath's very death anniversary. I often visit her tomb at the Protestant Cemetery. Everyone is usually busy paying a tribute to Keats, Shelley and Corso, but Rosselli should indeed not be overlooked.


John Fitzgerald's Favorite Bedtime Stories. A Review.

Favorite Bedtime Stories by John Fitzgerald (Salmon Poetry, 2014) is a book of poetry that grabs the reader with the sinuosity of a leopard. It has a subtle way of penetrating in the pores and, much like the poet himself states, “I am poet and cannot explain” what makes this “voice like dirt” so intoxicating.

“Where I am men hide, seems to me the perfect key to understanding the subtleness at play. And no, it’s not up a tree with the leopard, but in the leaf that we are turning, in the traces Fitzgerald so skillfully disseminates along the pages.

“I am coiner of words, he says, and of tales I shall add. Reading this collection one moves swiftly from apes and wild beasts, to the fifteen poems of The Charter of Effects, an almost philosophical journey in the footsteps of a poet named Likeness (or the Likeness of the Universe) whose Muses are in no way ordinary:

Presence is the muse who says she is this very moment.
Every night I close the blinds she every morning opens.
I perform CPR but can never save her.
She dies in my arms, I can still taste her.

My favorite section of this collection is Chess. Following the King, the Queen and the Pawn along the Board, the poet invites us to revisit the game of chess, to put ourselves at play and to adhere to rules. Indeed, because even poetry has its strict rules, but with Fitzgerald

 the board morphs into countless situations,
I cannot say for certain if it’s finite
though the plane itself has edges.

There are infinite stories and as many poems in each of these poems, where the dark ultimately “reveals itself” from “being light. They remind me of C.M. Escher’s mesmerizing painting Metamorphosis III, where the chess boards leads us to explore always new and fascinating worlds to end up back where we have begun.

C.M. Escher, Metamorphosis III 


"Love and Other Demons" & More Poetical News

If I look at my poetry accomplishments, it seems 2015  has started incredibly well. I have had 4 poems accepted for publication in Menacing Hedge and 2 poems accepted in The Más Tequila Review. My heartfelt thanks to editors Kelly Boyker and Richard Vargas. I also received feedback from Kristy Bowen that my fifth chapbook, "Love and Other Demons," will be published by {dancing girl press & studio} next year. I am so happy to have a second chapbook published by dgp after Diagnosis, which has been released just 2 weeks ago. Thank you to all of you who have purchased it already. I hope some more of you will follow the hare in this Plath-inspired chapbook.

My translations into English of a selection of poems by my fellow RBP poet Marco Cinque has just been published by CC.Marimbo Press in California. The book's title is At the Top of My Voice. The New Anthology of American Poets that I have edited and translated should be released by February, or anytime soon. I have almost completed the translation of a selection of poems by the Poet that will be published later this year and I have a forthcoming chapbook in Italian by Gilgamesh Edizioni. I am very happy to announce that the cover of this chapbook will be a portrait of me by a poet I am very fond of, that is Neeli Cherkovski. Neeli's drawings are sweet and amusing, I am curious to see how my portrait will turn out.

And, I am writing a poem on this gorgeous painting, Guardian by Chie Yoshii. I am totally in love with it!


Diagnosis. My New Chapbook from {dancing girl press & studio}

I am so pleased that my new chapbook, Diagnosis, is now available from {dancing girl press & studio}. I am indeed happy and grateful that Kristy Bowen chose it in the first place. I know a few of my friends have already ordered a copy and I hope more will. Let me tell you something about how the poems of this chapbook came to me. The original poem, which is also the one that gives the name to the chapbook, revolves around the idea that being "diagnosed" with poetry can be a lacerating experience. Writing about the hare in this poem made the whole difference. Indeed, when picking up my collection of poems by Sylvia Plath just a few days later and leafing through its pages, I ended up reading her poem "Totem." It was then that I found the path I was looking for. The following lines struck a chord deep within me:

"In the bowl the hare is aborted,
Its baby head out of the way, embalmed in spice,

Flayed of fur and humanity,
Let us eat it like Plato's afterbirth,

Let us eat it like Christ."

I distinctly remember heading to my writing desk immediately after reading these lines and writing the remaining eight poems of the chapbook in one sitting. Plath's poem was truly the epiphany I had been looking for. I suddenly understood why the hare was my totem animal guiding me through the poems of this chapbook. I hope you too might be curious to follow the hare and see where it will lead you. 

Hop hop! And, thank you.


Hélène Cardona’s Dreaming My Animal Selves. A Review.

Turning the pages of Hélène Cardona’s Dreaming my Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013), I found myself following salmons, trailing behind swans and watching elves sailing down the river on leaves. This bilingual collection is imbued with such an unparalleled grace that one cannot help feeling captured by Nature’s most holy places and creatures, as in Charles Baudelaire’s “Correspondances.” Surrounded by deer, hares and herons one indeed feels part of the Creation itself. The poet is herself part of it. No wonder leaves are so often referred to, no wonder vine surrounds the umbilical, no wonder the author rips the same vine in order to liberate the letters of her name until “they soar above the ocean/for the falcon to reclaim.” (from “Dancing the Dream.")

In “The Isle of Immortals” we learn that “the ultimate aim is reverence of the universe.” Despite the often referred to dreamlike atmosphere, this collection is deeply rooted in the need of declaring that the poetic word in communion with nature is immortal.  The holiness of the word seems to me Cardona’s aim and we are left entangled in Nature’s sacred spires, caught by the radiant brilliance of her imagery and lines. As we fall prey to the incantatory quality of her poems—among which “Peregrine Pantoum” is the highlight—we notice that the alchemist Cardona has done it again: her words made of nature, distilled into Beauty, are brought to us as precious gifts via her alembic pen.

I have truly enjoyed reading these poems in both English and French. Sometimes the French is even more beautiful than the English, if possible: “Ma raison d’être chimérique, caméléon,/excavéee des naufrages tel un talisman,/resplendissante fresque catapultée/au delà de fantasques frontières métaphoriques.” Cardona’s translative qualities allow her to beautifully deliver in both languages, making of her a Sorceress of the Word.

Peregrine Pantoum 

Begin with a dream, 
snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon. 
Green rays cleave the heart of winter 
dancing at the edge of the lake. 

Snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon 
echo laughter and lilac sonatas 
dancing at the edge of the lake. 
Fairy tales beckoning days on end 

echo laughter and lilac sonatas, 
my grandmother’s exquisite designs. 
Fairy tales beckoning days on end, 
wisdom and melancholy build fires, 

my grandmother’s exquisite designs 
engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor. 
Wisdom and melancholy build fires, 
myriad books and soulful dwellings 

engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor 
on slippery roads, frozen paths. 
Myriad books, soulful dwellings, 
enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles. 

Slippery roads, frozen paths 
drive mazes of mind. 
Enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles, 
exiles and travels, forced and chosen. 

Driving mazes of mind, 
tales of torture ring from the land of gods, 
exiles and travels, forced and chosen. 
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze, 

Tales of torture ring from the land of gods. 
Green rays cleave the heart of winter, 
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze. 
Begin with a dream. 



I had a fixed set of goals for 2015, but what happened to our dog in the past few days just made me realize that I cannot live according to preset rules. I won't worry about achieving this year. I will focus on feeling and on being. I plan to seize my day every day.