Agliè (Torino Italy) – Lidia Chiarelli, installation artist and poet, in the GARDEN FOR PEACE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYDV0QmPS4k
Books donated to Biblioteca Civica di Torino:
Lidia Chiarelli: Tramonto in una tazza, EEE, Moncalieri Torino 2017
Yoon-Ho Cho: The Light of Love, Cross-Cultural Communications & Korean Expatriate Literature, Seoul Korea 2018
AAVV: Korean Expatriate Literature (Anthology in English and Korean), published by Yoon-Ho Cho, Seoul Korea 2018
–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
Credit: Chelsea News, NY
Sakai Hoitsu’s red maple fills one side of a pair of folding screens. It’s one of the masterpieces included in “The Poetry of Nature.” Photo: Adel Gorgy
“Hollyhocks and Prince’s-Feather Flowers” a haiku-like scroll painting on silk by Sakai Oho (1808–1841). Photo: Adel Gorgy
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, one of the masters of Meiji woodblock prints, depicts a magical realm in “Fudo Myoo Threatening a Novice.” Photo: Adel Gorgy
Nagasawa Rosetsu’s “Cranes” from the Edo period (1615–1868) are among the delights on view in the Met’s Arts of Japan galleries. Photo: Adel Gorgy
Alternate views of “Cranes” by Nagasawa Rosetsu. Photo: Adel Gorgy
Detail, “Outer Robe (Uchikake) with Phoenixes and Paulownia.” Photo: Adel Gorgy
“Mynah Birds,” by an unknown artist from the Momoyama (1573–1615) or Edo (1615–1868) period in Japan. Photo: Adel Gorgy
Cherry blossoms by Sakai Hoitsu deliver promises of rebirth through dazzling imagery. Photo: Adel Gorgy
BY MARY GREGORY
The word museum comes from the ancient Greeks. Mouseion was a house of the muses. Sometimes, the museum itself becomes the muse.
Temper a hot summer day in a cool, shaded gallery at The Met Fifth Avenue filled with delightful reflections of nature. In a time of record heat, blazing wildfires and torrential storms, it’s a subject we all need think more about.
The Arts of Japan galleries are filled with poetry, art, moonrises, birds in flight, grazing deer and exquisite calligraphy. “The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection” presents a distant time and place, but through a local connection. The exhibition features some 40 paintings from the collection of New Yorkers, Dr. Estelle P. Bender and her late husband, T. Richard Fishbein. Most have never been publicly displayed before, and most are promised gifts to the museum. They’re joined by earlier works from The Met’s collections as well as contemporary ceramics and photography, to give a sense of tori-awase, or connoisseurial arrangement, a traditional Japanese practice to heighten awareness and let objects communicate not just with the viewer, but with one another as well.
The exhibition fills several galleries with works that span from the 10th to the 21st centuries, though the focus is on the Edo period. From 1615 to 1868 Japanese artists came in contact with China and the West, finding new ways of seeing and creating. The Fishbein-Bender collection features those who broke from tradition. There’s a rare scroll by a 17th century female artist, Kiyohara Yukinobu. Her painting of waxwings, a small sparrow-like bird, may hold a secret message. The affectionate birds symbolized marital harmony; Yukinobu and her husband were both artists.
Harmony is a key theme of the exhibition. Poetry and painting are married, too, in many of the works. Verses tumble down the sides of scrolls; gorgeous lines of ink convey gorgeous lines of poetry. A delicately painted glazed tile, where calligraphy and the currents in a river mimic each other’s movements, contains a message from a 10th century poet: “Taking a tally of ripples on the face of the water, glimmering in the moonlight, we know that this night, tonight, the peak of autumn has arrived.” The texts of all poems incorporated into artworks are translated, making for a rich experience.
“Hollyhocks and Prince’s-Feather Flowers” a small scroll painted by Sakai Ōho (1808–1841), looks like a tidy corner of someone’s backyard garden. In reality, it’s a masterpiece of positive/negative space, minimalist line and pure color. With the left side empty, balanced by only a few dark green leaves, a smattering of red spots, white blossoms and a tiny orange butterfly, it’s a yin-yang of nostalgia and transcendence. Nature and artistic nurture join to create a poetic perfection.
A pair of towering folding six-panel screens presents flowering cherry and red-leafed maple trees. Their gnarled trunks have seen many years, yet their blossoms and leaves speak of rebirth. It’s an expression of wisdom and innocence, a moment and eternity, joined symbolically by Sakai Hōitsu, the artist.
Myriad myna birds, fat frogs, gangly grasshoppers, swirling snails, plumed phoenix and plump monks are among the charming creatures depicted in paintings, sculptures, woodblock prints, embroidered robes, ceramics and basketry. Perhaps the most delightful is a pair of scrolls depicting three cranes. Posed against a soft, featureless background, they stand, two on one scroll, the other alone. Nagasawa Rosetsu painted them in the 1780s. It’s as though the artist wanted to paint every crane, capture every nuance, show the very essence of them. In one panel, two birds are depicted, one facing sideways, tall and elegant, the other with its back to the viewer. On the second panel, the bird gazes at the viewer head-on. The round body tapers to a comical nub of a head, all skinny neck and bulging eyes. It’s impossible not to smile, not to fall in love with her.
And that’s the point of the show — to get us to cherish the beauty in nature. Be inspired by a muse. Consider works by artists who understood that their survival depended on harmony with nature. Because, despite air conditioning, pavement and the wonders of plumbing and mass transit, ours does, too.