Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Place I Call Home Reviewed

 The Place I Call Home (NYQ Books) by Maria Mazziotti Gillan was recently reviewed by : CL Bledsoe on www.thepedestalmagazine.com

In these fifty-two poems, Gillan chronicles the life of an Italian immigrant girl, presumably herself, the child of immigrants who worked and sacrificed to give her and her siblings a better life. Gillan’s collection is a meditation on home, whether the home of her childhood, the home of her married life, or the home she lives in now. Location is an important element, but the people who share the home are the true glue Gillan focuses on. She begins with “That Sound Carries Me toward Childhood,” a meditation on her mother’s voice: “It is dark. I swear I hear my mother calling, though it is/ fifteen years since she died and more than fifty years/ since we lived in the 17th Street apartment that I think of/ when I think of my childhood….” Gillan paints a vivid portrait of her childhood home, its garden full with “corn stalks taller/ than any of us, its vines heavy with tomatoes, the air/ tangy with herbs, rosemary, oregano, and mint and the tart/ aroma of zucchini and eggplant." She describes capturing fireflies, eating homemade snacks, listening to radio programs, and playing games. All of these things Gillan describes no longer exist; as she explicitly states, the mentioned family members are all dead, but they live on in her memory. Even though there’s pain and loss in these memories, there’s also hope and joy. As Gillan states in “My Mother Used to Wash My Hair,” she is still surprised by beauty, “the broken world/ still filled with so much surprising grace.” Her hope and salvation walk hand-in-hand with her poetic spirit...

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