–A REVIEW BY JESSICA NEWPORT
Tramonto in una tazza Sunset in a cup by Lidia Chiarelli
Lidia Chiarelli is an award-winning poet who hails from Turin in northern Italy. She has a strong link to South Wales through her connection to Aeronwy Thomas being the official Italian translator and biographer for her work and the inspiration she derives from Aeronwy is clear in this collection with a poem dedicated to her. Chiarelli graduated from the University of Turin and began a career in teaching, from here she became one of the Charter Members of Immagine & Poesia, alongside four others including Aeronwy Thomas. This art literary Movement was founded in Torino (Italy) in 2007 and has been a great success. Chiarelli’s work has been translated into many languages worldwide and published in places such as: Great Britain, the U.S.A, France and India to name but a few. She has won numerous awards over many years including a Certificate of Appreciation from The First International Poetry Festival of Swansea (UK) in 2011.
Tramonto in una tazza Sunset in a cup was published in 2017 by Edizioni Esordienti. Chiarelli’s poetry is a beautiful collection broken down into twelve months, with each month dedicated to a different prominent female figure of literature, with names such as: Katherine Mansfield, Charlotte Bronte and Dorothy Parker among others. Chiarelli has taken inspiration from their work created her own tribute from it. Through this she has shown how the marrying of art and literature results in a powerful piece that resonates with the reader. With a quotation from each figure and a digital image of each prefacing her words it is clear to see that Chiarelli has been moved by each individual that she has selected. The subject matter, her soft tone, rhythm and incorporation of words and images alongside one another results in a collection that will leave one in a state of thought and consideration long after completion. Tramonto in una tazza Sunset in a cup is published bilingually in Italian and English which adds to the romanticism of her words. Individually, the poems are short but no less powerful or complex as a
result. The images and brief information about each female prior to Chiarelli’s words renders one hungry for further information and overall, we are gifted a collection of poems which leaves an effect perhaps as strongly upon us as the original inspirations left upon Chiarelli.
The first poem; The Call, is dedicated to Virginia Woolf and focuses upon her suicide. Chiarelli beautifully presents this event through her metaphorical manipulation of nature, a theme that remains prominent throughout the collection. The poem opens with the words: ‘Black ravens scratched the sky in a frenzy’ which arrests the reader’s attention immediately and yet she ends the first stanza with the words ‘infinitely free’ which is altogether more calming. This represents the battle that Woolf struggled with in regards to her mental illness. She was free, in her mind, when she made the decision to end her life. As the poem progresses, Chiarelli informs us that Woolf is ‘docile’ and ‘surrendering to that irresistible voice’ as she enters the water to drown. The selection of language that Chiarelli has made, coupled with the slow rhythm leaves the reader as submissive as the subject to what is about to take place. There is a calm overriding tone to the piece and the ‘icy embrace’ at the close is as comforting to the reader as it is to Chiarelli and perhaps was to Woolf herself. This is a beautiful tribute, without judgement or opinion but rather a representation of how Chiarelli perceived her subject to be feeling. This is something that is evident throughout the collection, Chiarelli has thought about how the twelve women saw and felt the world and has woven a wonderful web of presentation from this.
As one moves through the collection it becomes clear that each poem is a personal dedication from Chiarelli, for example, in ‘The sacred garden Sissinghurst Castle Garden’ she bestows upon Vita Sackville-West the title of ‘priestess of this sacred garden’ or in ‘Garden in October’ when she takes inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s romantic style by stating ‘Amber brown leaves waltz on the boughs as you, Queen of Pre-Raphaelite beauty discover wonder in Autumn’s languid sun of this ephemeral reign’. It is clear that Chiarelli has gone to great lengths to appreciate each of the women she has selected for her collection. It cannot be denied that the tributes she makes beautifully encompass their passions, interests and approaches within their own literature and these are paired excellently alongside her own.
Art is a heavy influence upon Chiarelli and this is evident throughout. Not only is each poem prefaced by a digital image dedicated to the woman she writes of but her lyricism of words ensures she presents each piece as a perfect meeting of art and poetry. This serves to impress a powerful message upon the reader; how both elements can transform each other. The reader is invited into a world of reflection, made all the more real when the image of each woman is there to be
absorbed alongside Chiarelli’s words. For example, in ‘Poppy Red’, a tribute to Sylvia Plath we have a delightful marrying of the words ‘a thousand poppies open wounds bleeding inside you’ with the image of poppies shadowed within a female hand. Through this, Chiarelli has paid poignant tribute to Plath whilst sensitively presenting to the reader the act of her suicide; which of course is well documented.
Perhaps the most significant tribute of the collection lies in the center; August, when she writes of Aeronwy Thomas. Aeronwy is extremely significant to Chiarelli, she has worked with and on behalf of Thomas many times and they had a great friendship. Chiarelli’s feelings towards her and the South Wales landscape are evident when she refers to Thomas’ star as ‘bright and pure’. Furthermore, she reminds us how the words of Thomas are ‘still and always here to create images and soft tunes intoned slowly by the breath of the Welsh sea’. One is in no doubt when reading ‘Poem for Aeronwy Thomas’ that Chiarelli has been influenced and touched by her, she takes this with an inspiration from nature to encompass the soft purity that Aeronwy represented for her. The result is a beautiful piece that leaves an imprint on the reader long after the poem has been enjoyed.
In a time where the conversation regarding women and values is prominent we are gifted a collection by a female dedicated to multiple, important women throughout time and thus Tramonto in una tazza Sunset in a cup is significant, well-timed and appropriate. Chiarelli is thoughtful in her words and delivery and thus, we are gifted poetry rich with imagery and themes of nature and art that can be both relished and appreciated in equal measure. Chiarelli herself stated that ‘Tramonto in una tazza Sunset in a cup’ is a tribute to her own inspirations and the result is a plethora of poetry that can provide inspiration to her readers also. It cannot be denied that the poetry within will provide enjoyment and consideration that will move past the page, into the mind and remain there long after the book has been put down.
(Published in THE SEVENTH QUARRY – Poetry Magazine – Wales UK – summer 2018)
Lidia Chiarelli – Tramonto in una tazza – Sunset in a cup
Edizioni Esordienti E book
Moncalieri Torino 2017 ISBN 978-88-6690-382-6
Premio Nazionale di Arti Letterarie Metropoli di Torino – XIV edizione
Segnalazione di Merito – Premio Nazionale Il Meleto di Guido Gozzano – VII edizione
Available in these libraries: Main Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County – Ohio, Monroe County Public Library Key West – Florida, Nashville Public Library – Tennessee, Jacksonville Public Library – Illinois
- in Canada: Middlesex County Library, Ontario CA
Nomination al Pushcart Prize 2018 (USA) per 5 poesie di Tramonto in una tazza-Sunset in a cup