Monday, 20 January 2014

Book Review of Ekphrastic Poetry ~ Immagine & Poesia by Lidia Chiarelli

Image: Caroline Gill

'A windmill of sounds and fluorescent colours' *

Immagine & Poesia (subtitled 'The Movement in Progress') is a beautiful book in which the poet, Lidia Chiarelli, has placed her bilingual English-Italian poems alongside the work of artists. Aeronwy Thomas described the result in terms of 'moments of cross fertilization', for something unusual happens when Chiarelli's lyrical lines are read in their assigned context. The words and the artwork have been paired with great care and imagination. It would be fair to say that many - perhaps most - of the artworks are in some way described in the lines of their accompanying poems, as is demonstrated on p.40 when 'the Statue of Liberty raises her torch'; but these poems are more than descriptions of art. They could doubtless stand alone; but in this book, each poem becomes something greater than the sum of its parts when it connects with its image. It is as if a firework and a lighted match have come together unexpectedly to ignite the poetic landscape by releasing a multitude of coloured sparks.  

This exciting volume has been published by Cross-Cultural Communications (editor Stanley H. Barkan) in New York. The selected artworks represent a wide range of media, from pen-and-ink (Boats by Marsha Solomon) to fine-art photography (Traces of Pollock No. 3 by Adel Gorgy). The images have all been beautifully produced on quality paper and it is good to be able to see both the English and Italian language versions and their accompanying image on a single double-spread. Abstract images (Cerulean Shorelines by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld) are interspersed with more concrete pictures (the 'wonder wheel' in Coney Island by Alessandro Actis), creating a not only a pleasing sense of balance but also that important element of surprise.

Chiarelli is fond of epigraphs, and these range from a Dylan Thomas quotation to a description of water by Lao Tzu, penned in the seventh century BC. Dylan Thomas and his daughter, Aeronwy, have been significant influences, in addition to American poets such as Walt Whitman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Chiarelli's style, however, is very much her own. Her lines are often short and her stanzas burst with light, shade and colour.

* quotation from 'Coney Island' p.46

About Lidia Chiarelli ...

Lidia lives and works in Torino in the north of Italy. She is one of the Charter Members of IMMAGINE & POESIA, an artistic literary movement founded at TEATRO ALFA (TORINO) on November 9, 2007.
See: Saatchi online

Lidia Chiarelli Immagine & Poesia -The Movement in Progress - A Cross-Cultural Communications Edition, NY, 2013 ISBN 978-0-89304-994-2

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