Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Italian American Family Between Past and Present




Elisabetta Marino has written a critical paper titled "The Italian American Family between Past and Present: The Place I Call Home (2012) by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, and Mystics in the Family (2013) by Maria Fama."

Here is a an excerpt:
In a letter dated September, 8th 2013, when asked about the latest developments of her artistic discourse, Maria Mazziotti Gillan replied as follows:

I think my grief over my husband’s death and the deaths of my mother, father, sister, best friends, opened out into my grief for the world and what we’ve done to the environment and to people, my grief over the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, and what appear to me to be our unending wars. My poems always incorporate the personal narrative, but my work seems to be weaving the personal with my concern for the larger world.

Her strong sense of responsibility and her profound commitment to the well being of society are evident in the poem entitled “First Son,” where the writer acknowledges that she and her son John (a medical doctor) are very much alike, despite the different fields they operate in: “he wants to be able to fix the world, just as I do” (Mazziotti Gillan, The Place I Call Home 43). Her ethical mission is reiterated in “When I Speak Sometimes,” where she compares her mother’s total devotion to her children, her forceful way of dispensing advice and words of wisdom to her beloved offspring, to her own wider aspiration to contribute, with her poems, to a better future for the human family: “I can’t resist taking care / of the world” (69).

Accordingly, the place Maria Mazziotti Gillan calls home (to quote the title of her volume) necessarily goes beyond geography, since it cannot be pinpointed on any map; it is neither Italy, nor America, nor Paterson’s Little Italy, that pale imitation of an imaginary homeland where immigrants often lead a suspended life, trying to recreate the well-known environment they left behind in their mother-country. Thus by refusing to take sides or to write from any privileged point of observation, home is identified with interpersonal relationships, with a core of affection within the heart, with her mother’s “warm arms” that,as the author remarks in the poem called “Little General,” are actually the only “place / [she] call[s] home”
The full paper is available free online at the repository of the University of Trieste openstarts.units.it


Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com.  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.