Archives for posts with tag: Italy

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The Clay Pendant
by Leslie Sittner

It is reddish-brown clay, heavy, and maintains the ambient temperature of
     its surroundings.
It is a 2 ¼” by ½” thick flat disk curving to a point at the top.
Its face is rough with incised designs, azure color glaze accents the
     depressions.
Two symmetrically placed ¾” round clay beads, each with an azure band
     of glaze,
are knotted in position on the braided thong that supports it around my
     neck.
The designer’s name, Maria Guistina, is inscribed on the back.
It is my Clay Pendant.

Over the years the pendant accumulated different characteristics.
When I wear it now:

It’s still reddish-brown clay but is no longer heavy to me.
It gathers and holds the warmth of my heart and the tenderness of hers.
It’s still a 2 ¼” by ½” thick flat disk rising to a point at the top,
but the point is softened both to the eye and the touch.
It’s face is textured with life’s dreams, the azure color glaze reflects a
     perfect sky.
The two symmetrical ¾” beads remind me to keep life in balance.
The knotted braided thong, replaced when it tired of its support job,
encourages me to support whomever, however I can.
The designer, Maria Guistina, has brought me great joy over the years.
It is my Clay Pendant.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/ PHOTO CAPTION: My (ex-) husband and I were strolling around Lucca, Italy, one evening in 1969. We passed a softly lit street-level studio. The door was open and a young woman was bent over a high table laboring over something small. Near the center of the space was a potter’s wheel. A small kiln resided in one corner. She turned to us with a radiant smile of welcome and bid us enter. In my halting Italian I inquired as to what she was creating and if she had items for sale. She eagerly replied yes and excitedly but shyly showed me three clay pendants. I immediately fell in love with the circular one. When I asked the price, she demurred, and quietly said the equivalent of three dollars with a questioning inflection, as if three dollars was too much. I told her no, it was worth more than that and gave her 10 dollars. She reached for me, hugged me hard, and with tear-filled eyes, whispered. “You have no idea how much this means to me. To have someone value my work, pay me for it. Italian women aren’t valued for much except cooking and caring for children and elders. Men are the craftsmen. It’s very difficult for a woman artist to be independent, to have a dream, and make a living.” ¶ Lucca is precious to me because of this piece of art-jewelry. I’ve thought of her often over the years wondering if she was successful, especially against the prevailing cultural odds. ¶I was in Lucca last summer and I took the pendant. I looked for her but had no idea where she might be after 47 years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, and 50 Word Stories. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.

Soranzio
Cinquecento
by Massimo Soranzio

End of summer on that deserted street
Between old factories and open fields ―
Factories closed now, fields no longer there ―
You taught me how to turn into second,
Not an easy task on a 500,
The original Fiat Five-Hundred,
Requiring a swift play of my right foot
From pedal to pedal, feeling the clutch,
Knowing when it would be ready for me
To push the gear stick into position
And go, enjoying the warm sun and air
From the folded-back rooftop, the same one
That wouldn’t keep the rain out in a storm,
No matter how tight you thought it was locked…

Neither of us knew it would be the last
Time ― I would never get another chance
To learn something from you, to be with you,
To share the joys and fears of growing up.

You did what a good father’s meant to do:
You did not leave before I could drive, too.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father taught me to drive about a year before he died, prematurely, aged 56. My driving lessons were great fun, because we were using my mother’s Fiat 500 R – the hard thing was passing from first to second gear, because you needed to perform a complex “dance” with your feet on the pedals, and at the same time “feel,” with your hand on the gear stick, when it was time to change: it was called “la doppietta,” which sounds more like Lewis Carroll’s wordgame, the doublet, than the actual English technical term, “double clutch.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I seem to have no picture of myself and the old Cinquecento, so here’s a picture of my father Rino, as a young man in the 1950s, with his old blue Fiat Topolino. He still had it when I was a little child in the early 60s, and it is the first family car I can remember.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on foundpoetryfrontiers.org.

KouwenhovenVacation
I forgot a pair of earrings
by Christine Kouwenhoven

in Rome. I think I left them on the
black lacquered night table of the hotel by the Spanish steps.
I liked them, gold with tiny pearls.

What I remember most about Rome
were the ochre and amber hues, the soft light,
the sense that not all is lost but rather that
someday it will be revealed.

On that trip, we wandered the streets after dark.
They wound around and around, cobblestones
glowing in the street light, and everywhere
there were people, laughing and drinking.
For a few hours, we let ourselves belong.

Then we moved on. We’ve been many places together.
Some better than others.
There is a familiarity to traveling that is comforting.
The white towels in the hotel bathrooms.
The kiosks with water and t-shirts and postcards.
The standing in line to see what must be seen.
The birds, gulls or pigeons or sparrows, foraging,
flickering at the edges of the photograph.

But we go to find what is different.
To shake off the blues of our routine. To make memories.
In this garden, a flower we’ve never seen.
In that museum, a beautiful painting that isn’t in the textbook.
A view that can’t be overlooked.
Dinner, together, by candlelight. The local specialty.

When we move on, a trinket, a token will come home with us.
As if we could save ourselves from losing this, or anything else.

I forgot a pair of earrings

in California. I think I left them on the
wicker and glass vanity of the hotel by the Laguna cliffs.
I liked them, silver with a sliver of striated stone.

What I remember most about California
was the blue-green Pacific Ocean after the clouds cleared,
the sunshine scattering diamonds in a sparkling line to the horizon,

the sense that anything could yet be discovered
if only we let ourselves go.

PHOTO: The author hog-wild in Italy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christine Kouwenhoven
lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband and three growing kids. She works as Director of Communications at Baltimore School for the Arts, a public arts high school. Christine has an M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She shares poems and reflections regularly on her blog poempost.wordpress.com. Recently she’s had essays published by The Mid, Grown & Flown, and the Baltimore Fishbowl and has poems due in Mothers Always Write and The Poetry Box.

Paris 1966
Perfectly Imperfect
by Lynn White

It started when we stood hopefully
with our thumbs outstretched
by an English roadside,
heading towards Italy and Yugoslavia
without maps or money,
or sense of direction.

And we made it to Italy.
and swam off the rocks,
with a man we’d met in a cafe,
because he said we could.
And we swam and swam until two policemen came,
(one very stern and one very twinkly),
and said we couldn’t.
Nor could we leave the rocks without clothes on,
or with clothes clinging to our still wet bodies,
or lie on the rocks until we were dry,
in case we disconcerted the traffic or populace.
This being the main street in Trieste.

And we made it to Pec and lived
in a house ‘typique du Turque’
with a water pump in the garden
and a toilet, also ‘Typique du Turque’,
which made us very ill indeed.
But the parties were good and
the conversations interesting,
even though no one spoke English.
And we learned to speak some Albanian,
which was always handy.
And we survived to sit thirstily by a hot,
dusty roadside and fantasise
about the ice cold mountain water
streaming through the streets of Pec,
and even about the water pump in the garden.

And we made it back home.
We had got lost a lot,
but hadn’t got raped or murdered.
So far as we can remember.

What perfection.

PHOTO: The author (left) on L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris (1966) during one of her many European sojourns.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is an edited excerpt from a longer work. In the days when it was possible to leave one job at the beginning of summer and walk into another at the end, I made many similar trips, but this was the longest, most exotic and most exciting! Perfect in it’s ups and downs!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition in October 2014 and is published in Poetry For Change anthology by Vending Machine Press. Poems have also recently been included in Harbinger Asylum’s Literary Journal and A Moment To Live By anthology, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, the Weasel Press anthology Degenerates, Voices For Peace, Tangent Literary Journal, Amomancies, Dawntreader, and various other on line and print journals and anthologies.

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Sonnet #1 – In Italia
by Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

I’ve never written in this form before
Italian deep inside, the voice I hear
Its lilting cadence dancing in my ear
Stirs memories that make me yearn for more,

Reminds me of the place I hold most dear
The cobblestones of Florence where I’d walk
The strong romantic lingua to unlock
Gelato, behind windows, always near.

The traveling done solo would awake
An independent streak that still remains
The wanderlust, insatiable — no reins —
Life’s moments saved in photographs I’d take.

My heart is now the only one who travels down this road
The life once lived alive once more, through this poetic mode.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came from a poetry class I took last spring. Our assignment was to write a sonnet, which I had never written before. As I was trying to decide whether to write a Shakespearan or Italian sonnet, I thought it would be interesting to start off admitting that this was my first sonnet. Luckily, the amount of syllables and the rhythm fit perfectly into the Italian style, which made my decision for me. I then remembered thinking how fitting it was for me, considering the amazing experience I had while I was living in Florence, Italy, years earlier. That’s when I decided to write the whole sonnet about Florence. Though my first home is in Houston, Texas, I consider Florence another home and there will always be a part of it that stays with me.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Florence, Italy” by Spintheday. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eloísa Pérez-Lozano grew up bilingual and bicultural in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Iowa State University with her M.S. in journalism and mass communication and her B.S. in psychology. In the spring of 2014, she studied poetry at the University of Houston-Clear Lake with former professor Dr. John Gorman, who continues to be her mentor. Eloísa was selected to be a Juried Poet during the 2014 Houston Poetry Fest and her poetry has been featured in The Bayou Review, Illya’s Honey, The Acentos Review, The Ofi Press, the Johnson County Library’s 2014 Poem-a-Day Program, the 2014 Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, and The Degenerates: Voices for Peace Anthology.

firenze
My Tuscany
by Cari Oleskewicz

Outside my window
Brunelleschi’s Dome communes
with clouds.
Outside my door
wine in jugs of straw
cheeses draped with honey.

I have no right to walk
ancient streets carved
by Renaissance ghosts.
I have no reason to suppose
I am a Florentine
worshipping the tombs of genius.

My Tuscany does not resemble
the land you see in movies.
This is no travel blog.
My Tuscany is the butcher’s
fingernails, stained with blood
and piazzas bleeding stories.

This is where the world
keeps changing. Medici watch
while creation blooms again.
This is where leather sells,
where immigrants peddle
trinkets for coin.

After living here,
how does one stop
living here?
After living here,
I must brace myself
for days that I do not.

IMAGE: “Florence Cathedral” (Tuscany Region, Italy) by Cari Oleskewicz. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cari Oleskewicz is a poet and writer based in Tampa. Florida, and Tuscany, Italy — depending on the season. Her work has been published in a number of online and print journals including The Found Poetry Review, JAB, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Five2One, The Commonline Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, Main Street Rag, Epiphany Magazine and Imitation Fruit Literary Journal. She is pursuing her MFA from the University of Tampa.

nocturne-in-blue-and-silver-the-lagoon-venice-1880
VENETIAN WONDER
by Massimo Soranzio

Standing here by the Canal,
Dull and greyish, more than grand,
I am waiting for winter
To come on the vaporìn,
But I know well it won’t come,
Nor will it come tomorrow,
To purge this long summer’s sins.

I am waiting for Venice
To be the new Atlantis,
As for the Tower of Pisa
To give in, at last, and fall.

I am waiting to see who
Will win the race to submerge
The glorious stones of Venice:
This ever changing climate,
Or corrupt men and their greed?
I am waiting to see if
Venice can resist once more.

But in the meantime, my dear,
I am waiting for you here,
Waiting for you to appear:
Let’s meet at Santa Lucia.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Coming from a family that, through centuries of alternate fortunes and even modifications in its name, has retained a certain pride in its ancient Venetian origins, I have always followed Venice’s glorious decline, caused by nature following its course, as well as by an inadequate class of politicians, with a certain interest and apprehension. “Vaporìn” is what Venetians call the steamboats serving as city buses. Santa Lucia is both the name of Venice’s railway station, and the day of St. Lucy, December 12, popularly (though not astronomically) known as the shortest day of the year, and “the beginning of the end” of winter, a season that seems to be quite late this year in this part of the world.

IMAGE: “Nocturne in Blue and Silver, The Lagoon, Venice” by James McNeill Whistler (1879).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He posts some of his found and constraint-based poetry on his blog, massimosoranzio.tumblr.com.

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REMEMBERED ON THE HALF CENTURY
by Tobi Cogswell

She turned 25 in Rome and now she is about to turn 50. Back then, traveling with three Israeli boys she met on a pier in Monte Carlo, she camped for two nights in the back of their station wagon, one night parked in center-of-the-street parking in Genoa and one night in God only knows and she doesn’t remember. The night before her birthday, faced with a roadside toilet in the middle of nowhere, wearing shorts that buttoned up the side, a leotard and cowboy boots, faced with a hole, a pole and painted footprints in the darkening night she started crying. She told the boys she was not camping one more night. She was waking up in a hotel with clean hair. If they wouldn’t drive her to Rome she would hitchhike or walk. The next day they bought her flowers and celebrated with orange soda and cake – 25 years later the flowers are still pressed into a photo album having been smuggled back and not declared as fruit, vegetable or any other type of farm product. Can turning 50 be any sweeter?

IMAGE: “Home for Lunch in Rome” by Pamela Allegretto. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tobi Cogswell is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden and Australia. In 2012 and 2013, she was shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. In 2013, she received Honorable Mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize. Her sixth and latest chapbook is Lapses & Absences (Blue Horse Press). She is the coeditor of San Pedro River Review.

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SPRING HAIKU
by Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

Spring!
A nameless hill
in the haze. 

Photo: “Valley Hill Fog (Rivergaro, Italy)” by Maurizio Mori

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THE SHADOW
by Carlo Betocchi
(translated by Geoffrey Brock)

One spring day I saw
the shadow of a strawberry tree
lying on the moor
like a shy lamb asleep.

Its heart was far away,
suspended in the sky,
brown in a brown veil,
in the sun’s eye.

The shadow played in the wind,
moving there alone
to make the tree content.
Here and there it shone.

It knew no pain, no haste,
wanting only to feel morning,
then noon, then the slow-paced
journey of evening.

Among all the shadows always
joining eternal shadow,
shrouding the earth in falseness,
I loved this steady shadow.

And thus, at times, it descends
among us, this meek semblance,
and lies down, as if drained,
in grass and in patience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carlo Betocchi (1899-1986) was an Italian writer who led a double life, working for decades as a surveyor and engineer building bridges, roads, and canals, while helping to found the influential literary journal, Il Frontespizio. His Tutte le poesie (Complete poems) appeared in 1984.

 NOTE: Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree, occasionally cane apple) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland. (Source: wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree)