Falling in Love with English: The Flapper Press Poetry Café Features Italian Poet Gabriella Garofalo
By Annie Newcomer:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets from around the globe. This week we highlight the work of Italian poet Gabriella Garofalo.
Born in Italy some decades ago, Gabriella Garofalo received a classical high school diploma focusing on humanities before going on to earn her Master's degree in it. After living in London, Paris, and Barcelona, she settled in Milan, where she worked as a teacher, librarian, editor, and translator. Shortly after her retirement, she moved to Ferrara, a lovely town in Emilia-Romagna (Northern Italy), where she spent ten happy years, translating, editing, and writing her poems in English.
Now based in a coastal hamlet in Central Italy, Gabriella is trying her best to cope with days rife with a detached sadness, the many clouds, the hectic waves, and the many much-welcomed requests poetry makes to her. She spends her days reading, writing, and strolling along the seashore.
Gabriella fell in love with the English language at age six and started writing poems (in Italian) and is the author of “Lo sguardo di Orfeo”; “L’inverno di vetro”; “Di altre stelle polari”; “Casa di erba”; “Blue Branches”; “ A Blue Soul”.
We reached out to Gabriella to talk to her about her life, work, and poetry!
Please Meet Gabriella Garofolo!
AN: Welcome, Gabriella. You describe the poem that you will share with us as an untitled trilogy that contains your "Blue Words." Please share with our readers why you chose this form, this color, and why you elect not to title your poems.
GG: I chose blue as it is by far my favorite color, a color that embodies and recaptures life and its many contradictions; a trilogy as three is my favorite number, a symbol of the interpenetration of opposites; and I choose not to title my poems as, to me, giving a title is akin to forcing them into a sort of prepackaged box, so to say.
AN: If you were to chose a photograph that represented your poem, what would it depict? And would there be 1 or 3 photos?
GG: Most certainly three, and they would depict a night sky, or the hectic waves from the sea. I am attaching three pics, so to better convey to you what I mean.
AN: You have said, "In a way, demise was the begetter of my words." Might you explain?
GG: For the most part, I never got a proper apprenticeship to life; when I was six, my brother, aged three, died of lockjaw, a word eerily reminiscent of "lockdown." I couldn’t understand why my brother had to leave all of a sudden, nor can I now, after so many decades. What I obscurely felt then, what I am persuaded of now, is that words can give us back the missing, the lost, the lives passed away. That’s why, six months past my first meeting with demise, I started writing; when my first taste of words and their force was over, I felt—again very obscurely, very vaguely—that not only words could give me back my brother, but they could give my mourning a frame, a shape, they could even quench the questions my life was being rife with.
AN: Please share how your journey with poetry has changed over the years.
GG: For many, many years, all along my childhood and my teen years, I kept writing poems, only I never saved them; the dustbin being their final destination. As strange as it may sound, those wild destructions proved very cathartic to me. When I was nineteen, though, I suddenly realized that my words might deserve a different fate, so I started keeping them. I can remember it was a sudden epiphany, a sort of "eureka" moment, the moment I promised myself that my life, be it short or long, momentous or uneventful, would be devoted to writing, reading, thinking poems. To that promise, I have always been faithful.
AN: You have lived in some of the most historic cities in the world, with rich architecture, cities considered to be the most highly fashionable capitals of the world, cities that are home to beautiful cathedrals and art galleries, and yet your poetry seems to be fully embedded in nature. Do you ever step outside of nature or write ekphrastic poetry on art or music?
GG: My poetry is fully embedded in nature since I am truly persuaded that nature in its triumphant beauty and horror is one of God’s masterpieces. Yet, sometimes, I happen to think that one fine day I might as well engage in ekphrastic poetry on art or music. Who knows, life is such a perpetual, messy cupboard of unpredictable twists, turns, and surprises.
AN: Please choose a question for yourself that will give us more insight into your artistry as a poet and then answer it. This should be something that you “wished” I had asked you and didn’t.
GG: The question I'd ask myself: Why do you believe in words and poetry? I do believe in them, as words and poetry are the very life and soul of my existence, the sap that allows my roots never to dry out.
AN: What are some of your future goals as a poet, Gabriella?
GG: Simple as that, I just want to go on writing; as I mentioned, when I was nineteen I swore to myself to devote my whole life to poetry. Up to now I have stayed true to my words.
AN: Time to share your poetry and backstories. Thank you so much, Gabriella, for coming all the way from Italy to visit with us in the Flapper Press Poetry Café.
GG: Thank you, Annie. Fondest hugs galore, and Buona vita as ever.
On to those three poems—the backstory is very simple.
They are three different expressions of my ongoing, unremitting dialogue with my soul, my light, God. The moon, too, shows up many times, as she's one of my greatest confidantes, along with time, and waves, that peer out, maybe 'cause I live in close proximity to the sea.
I mustn't forget to mention the shapes of mother and father looming over the tangled tapestry interwoven with blue, that is the life and soul of my poetry.
Gossake, light, give ‘em some slack,
Let rocks spring, and water see for herself-
While you are at it, my light, go get
Some nice answers, and throw ‘em ‘round-
Know what? A wannabe Amazon was her mother,
She a dead ashes’ daughter, that girl, yes,
Stranded all over God’s blue land,
Where she madly wishes for blades of light,
Are they God’s fingers? -
But blind stares she gets,
Fallen stars the sky’s eager to bin-
Hey man, hold on! You still falling for those fibs?
Gosh Blimey, it’s just fake news,
See, only the nights are real, those tools
Great for the henchmen
Snared in sweet saintly limbs-
Shame they sting worse than crabs,
Shame we get ‘em blessings ‘n’ food-
And where are words in this whole shebang?
Oh, yes, words, Adam and Eve in the garden,
A nice thingie, sure, the magical touches at the end-
Point is, God, I’m afraid you went bit rogue
When giving them limbs and edges-
And see you what’s happening?
Some lost side shambles losing out,
While Medea gets nothing but her bastard heart,
My name, of course, or a dying woman
Hyped on benny, the nutty lady
The nutty lady who’s gonna get her shot:
Fire or jinx?
Nope, only a demure girl who hides
Behind too many clouds-
Sometimes your mother, sometimes the moon.
Out of a pesky arthrosis time is forced
To stand still, he is bedridden so can’t dash
To centuries and millennia, to wolf them down-
The soul is gently soothing him, with those platitudes
Eerily akin to a generous dollop of salt on infected wounds-
Soul, don’t waste your time with him, better for you
To look for a light blue sky, where light stands as a survivor
Along with lighter colors, maybe blue, maybe desire-
And she suddenly raids him, touches his lips, a biting cold
Breaths life to your winter, but, oh, those hands, them
And primary colours, such a bore-
Never complain, never explain, just remove them quickly,
No good for you to end up like her
For a cheap sunset, too much sorrow, and hot tears,
What’s the bloody point?
Listen, be wise, grab a reliable night, a pocket gift,
Don't you know the roots of your being are born blue-
Wasted, unstoppable, they show
The weird rhythm of your days to a lover who always
Dodges a bit cagey-
However, that’s very much for him
To get in touch and say ‘hello’, he usually dodges
Dirty jobs, if the soul stares in awe at briars,
The sunset hides to ravage them-
Long story short, you too hide in the blue
The soul desires-all right, all right, no choice for you
If your places don’t live in you so they reject
A rendezvous with you-
Well, Father, to be honest even the moon rejects
To quench her thirst, maybe it’s the right time for sounds
To fade away, not that you like them, as the days from the mothers rape your winter, same here, same here.
The point is, one fine day the roots of your being
Would like to wither away leaving no trace-
Great, but your body your limbs are set on
Making it hard for them- they might just love life, or they can’t wait to ground Father who threw them at you in bulk.
Other voices ‘round,
Storms, stillness, a sea,
Not your mind, not your words,
Certainly not your womb:
So smart, and wrapped in light
Winter will have the last word,
And evening doesn’t mind,
‘Cause breaking twilights is a job-
Come on, they tear even your soul apart
Whenever you see them light up
In pubs, art-houses, on the streets
Whenever the evening gets a blind date for you,
Whenever you are born or die in the dark-
Cheer up, and leave the door ajar,
So mantises, dragonflies force you to rest
And maybe your gospel too survives,
Along with your stares greener than the cold,
They too survive-
Problem is, as winter gets the last word,
He feels entitled to reply in a desperate incandescence
"That’s how things work, sorry, but I’m a stone" -
What’s that, a land of shelter,
Or some shady warnings?
Nope, simply the white waves’ Mother,
Better for you, then, to hunt down
A town freezing between wide streets and bills,
Just a great waste of time if you dye in blue your life,
And don’t forget to hold down your moons, see?
So wild they burn they even lose decency and style,
No use, I’m afraid, to give me flowers, maybe red frocks,
If my soul in awe beats it, sure, even if
Some flowers hound light.
Annie Klier Newcomer founded a not-for-profit, Kansas City Spirit , that served children in metropolitan Kansas for a decade. Annie volunteers in chess and poetry after-school programs in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, David, and the staff of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are working to develop The Emily Dickinson Garden in hopes of bringing art and poetry educational programs to their community.
Annie helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to both read and write poetry!
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