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-