sabato 27 giugno 2020


Ringrazio Gaetano Cipolla, editore, traduttore, autore dell'introduzione e curatore di  The Poet Sings For All / Lu pueta canta pi tutti, nell'annunciarmi che la recensione di Charles Giordano al mio libro di poesie coincide con la ripresa della pubblicazione della rivista  "L'anello che non tiene" Journal of Modern Italian Literature


Charles B. Giordano

Strayer University

Piero Carbone. The Poet Sings For All / Lu pueta canta pi tutti. Translated by Gaetano Cipolla. Mineola, NY: Legas Publishing, 2014. Pp.89.
Piero Carbone’s The Poet Sings For All / Lu pueta canta pi tutti is the latest in the series of Pueti d’Arba Sicula, published by the Arba Sicula Press (Legas) and edited by Gaetano Cipolla. The collected poems by earlier and contemporary writers have as a major goal the transmission of Sicilian art and culture by providing dual texts in Sicilian and English side by side, and sometimes providing trilingual texts when Italian is included.

Born in Racalmuto, Sicily, in 1958, Piero Carbone spoke Sicilian in his youth but was then forced to speak Italian so that he would have a chance for a better career in life.  The writer and I have much in common.  Born to Sicilian immigrants in Connecticut, I spoke only Sicilian until I went to school.  
It was necessary to learn English well so that I also could have a chance at a good career.  Both Piero and I learned to express ourselves well in our “foreign language” so that we even became teachers of that imposed language. Piero Carbone, however, retained his native language so beautifully that he now not only writes poetry in Italian but also in Sicilian.  
One thing is certain; he has not lost his Sicilian soul.  Carbone expresses his Sicilian soul in poems such as “They’re the Same Fragrant Roses.”  He speaks of his father’s lifetime of hard work in the wheat fields and orchards but at the end of his life how he loved the roses he had planted.  While life in Sicily was harsh, there were the good things in life which made living worthwhile. 

Piero’s heritage is not that of his father’s sweat and tears; it is the beauty of life, which Piero has transplanted into his own garden. Heritage is carried on by the tangible roses but there is something indefinable in these roses; the fragrance of sweet memories. Similar in tone is Carbone’s “Bless the One Who Planted Them.” The olive trees planted by Piero’s father are a symbol for heritage. The long-living olive trees will provide not only physical and spiritual sustenance to Piero but also to the many generations that will come after him.

Although, in general, life in Sicily has improved in some ways since Carbone’s youth, there may be too many good things of the past that have been lost. In his poem “Always Burning Hot,” Carbone remembers having baked his bread in his own oven. 
Now that he buys bread from a bakery, he cannot stop thinking of his outdoor oven, which he had destroyed. There is something that he cannot pinpoint, but there is a personal, emotional draw to that lost, meaningful activity. It had been an integral part of his life as it had been for many generations. However, the nostalgic remembrance of having baked his own bread made from the wheat fields of Sicily becomes a bitter lament in Carbone’s “And We Eat Poisoned Bread.” 

While the Sicilian countryside still overflows with wheat, the peasant farmers are gone, replaced by polluting machines. 
What is even worse is that some wheat is imported from distant lands. Such wheat lacks the purity of Sicilian heritage. Worst of all, some Sicilian wheat is exported to foreign countries to be processed and then exported back to be made into cheaper flour to make genuine “Italian” pasta or other “home grown” wheat products.  It is no wonder that Carbone believes it is contaminated. To the Sicilian such bread and pasta is not life-nourishing but poisonous in many ways.

At times in his poetry, Piero Carbone exhibits a simple, fatalistic acceptance of reality. This theme is stated quite simply and matter of factly in his poem “I Went On Foot.” 
A person waits in vain for the seven o’clock train, but instead of showing any frustration, he optimistically waits for the eight o’clock train, which does not come either. After patiently waiting the whole day without the train having come, he realizes that there is nothing he can do about it and goes on foot. 
In another poem, “It Sounded Like a Song,” Brother Felici sits on the steps of the church every night thinking the same simple thoughts about his life and looking up toward the setting sun. 
When asked by another Brother what he is doing, Brother Felici simply answers that he is waiting for death. 

The comment at the end of the poem reveals that Brother Felici (“Happy”) is living up to his name. He has been content with his life and looks happily to his death. While both the man waiting for the train and Brother Felici accept life passively as it is, the prisoner, entombed in a cell without any light for thirty years in Carbone’s “Light Kills,” incessantly digs through a wall four meters thick with a little spoon as a tool. 

He digs obsessively to be able to see again that light of which he has been deprived. Finally, in a Kafkaesque moment, he breaks through to be overcome by the brilliant flash and dies. The final two verses, “Darkness is death. Light kills,” is an enigma. 
While the prisoner longed to see light which for him was equal to being alive, finally seeing light after such a long, harsh struggle ends in death. But what kind of death?  Is it death to his living death, having been entombed in darkness, or is it entrance into eternal light? Light has killed darkness, which is what he had longed for – release from his living death.

Considering nature and the artist as creators of beauty, Carbone in his poem “Now She Is All Blond” portrays nature as a natural artist actively creating beauty in the forms that it shapes and colors. While nature tenderly caresses and lovingly creates an original work of beauty objectively from the four elements, the human artist paints his pictures subjectively, causing the end product to appear as he wants it to appear. 

The original painter of the Black Madonna may indeed have painted the Madonna as he saw her but having done so even subjectively, she is his original creation. As for the “restorer” who lightened her flesh, he achieved nothing. Carbone still sees the Madonna as a miraculous work of art whether she is painted black or white. Carbone does not see the change in color as a distortion or an improvement. The color is superficial. To his credit, Carbone goes beyond color to appreciate the unique artistry in the painting.

As a postscript to his The Poet Sings for All/Lu pueta canta pi tutti, the Sicilian poet Piero Carbone explains that although as a young man he was forced to use Italian in order to socially succeed, he never rejected his mother tongue. At the age of fourteen he wrote his first poem, and as it was in Sicilian. Communicating, writing and teaching languages gives stability and warmth to life for Carbone.

Legas Publishing

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