Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: The Place I Call Home



Maria Gillan's newest collection of poems, The Place I Call Home, was reviewed by Ragazine's Poetry Editor, Emily Vogel.

"A Spiritual Landmark (and a Glimpse at Horror)" (excerpt)
Typically, when we think of “place” we consider first its physical geography, what exists in its proximity and what best describes its coordinates and physical dimensions. To consider that a “place,” perhaps besides being a physical location, is also a dimension of the memory, a particular habitat of the mind and heart which cannot be drawn on a map, suggests a type of vault of emotional reserve that can best be channeled through the medium of poetry. Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s book of poems, “The Place I Call Home” (forthcoming from NYQ Books in September) easily taps into this dimension, and while the landmarks that might be mentioned in many of the poems are recognizable as physical realities, there are without doubt other “spiritual landmarks” which carry the reader through all fifty-two poems so that we’re not only in a city in New Jersey, but also journeying through the story of the “self,” which has its own “emotional coordinates,” in its own right.

Gillan succeeds in constructing the “herstory” of an Italian immigrant girl. Her work is honest and bears the integrity of a woman/narrator we’d all like to sit down with and have four o’clock tea (or espresso), tell stories, and exchange matters of heart. She recalls the details of her growing up with a sense of real specificity and awareness. While reading the book the first time, I received what I’m used to after reading the last line of a really good poem or novel: the chills – what I’ve come to know as a brush with the Holy Spirit. It is the kind of physical sensation which demands you just appreciate the beauty of the poem without the need to examine it immediately for its deeper meanings with an “intellectual” ear...
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The Place I Call Home is forthcoming from NYQ Books  in September 2012.