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Contemporary Italian American Writing

Winner of the 2010 Bordighera Poetry Prize:
Sponsored by the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation

Matthew M. Cariello of Ohio.
for A Boat that Can Carry Two

Awards Ceremony, Nov.17th 6:30PM . All Welcome!

John D. Calandra Institute CUNY, Mid-Manhattan

Sample Poems from: A Boat That Can Carry Two

A Boat That Can Carry Two, by Matthew M. Cariello of Ohio, won $1,000 and bilingual book publication with an honorarium of another $1,000 for a skilled translator to render the manuscript from English into Italian. The book consists of two long poems. The first, “A Boat that Can Carry Two,” has about sixty parts. Each part resembles a curtail sonnet in form, with eleven lines of three iambs each, five couplets and one singlet that shifts position. The second part of the book is a single long poem titled, “An Intersection in Nanning.” Cariello is a writer and a teacher originally from New Jersey, currently living in Columbus and teaching in the English Department at the Ohio State University. His poetry has been published in Poet Lore, Artful Dodge, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Frogpond, Acorn, Simply Haiku, Riverbed, The Herons Nest, Daily Haiku, and Modern Haiku. His reviews and fiction have appeared in The Indiana Review, The Cortland Review, The Journal, The Long Story, Iron Horse Literary Review, Parting Gifts, and Ohioana.

Patrica Fargnoli, Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, Distinguished Poet Judge of the Bordighera Poetry Prize, 2009 - 2010, wrote of A Boat that Can Carry Two: “This stunning series of poems resembles, as Coriello explains, a curtail sonnet of sections that are eleven lines of three iambs (five couplets plus a singlet). While the form of the poems is impressive, I am even more moved by the lyricism and language use in the poems and by the sensitively told back-story that is slowly revealed through the long (60 part poem) that makes up a large part of this book. The details of the story, that of the loss of a sibling, his sister in an accident, are skillfully woven throughout the poem. Through the interweaving of the images and metaphors, the poet develops the feeling of overwhelming loss and grief, and perhaps his own feeling of guilt (e.g. “how vain of me to pretend your pain.”) It is these moments of self-questioning that, for me, are the most compelling. The poet asks, for instance: “How do I break my panic among all this death?” and later, in a heartbreaking section, reflects on what ordinary event of the day, he was participating in at the very moment the sibling died. This long sequence is universal in scope, brimming with controlled emotion, and skilled in its formal and linguistic techniques.”  

Sample Poems from: A Boat That Can Carry Two

                  -- for Amy Elizabeth Cariello, 1968-1988

 

              The water is wide, I cannot get over,
                  And neither have I wings to fly,
                  Give me a boat that can carry two,
                  And both shall row, my love and I.
         --Traditional English Ballad

1

The sun-blurred windowpane
first thing mornings.

There, a jay harangues the cat

with her cruel song. Here,
an empty room with one sagging chair,

and beside the chair, a face –
cheek smudged, indistinct chin:

ten years of dreams of your return.
Death lives now in my eye, watching,

stands on the corner
as the traffic slows to look.

2

When morning swarms over the earth,
somewhere far from thought

or mind or word, the stars
are little more than broken water

scattered in the sky. The cat's
been at the nest, but the jay

still warns for hours at dawn,
abuses intruders, insists

there's still something there,

marks the periphery,
reconciles what's missing.


3

Shirts and shoes scattered
about the room, a hairbrush,

a comb, this ring, that bracelet,
a whole box of single earrings,

a necklace; a bowl of silver coins;
books, notebooks, letters,

the small things they entail,
stamps, pencils, erasers, pens;

photographs curling at the edges;
clocks and watches, musical instruments;

anything that touched the mouth.


4

And finally the photographs die,
curling at the edges, fading.

Nothing quite disappears.
Like the salt marsh at high tide,

or low, the geography remains,
though utterly transformed.

Each day, I die a little,
but not enough to change

the way the tide fills the breach,

not enough to bridge that gap,
not enough to finish it off.  

_____________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2010 by Mathew M. Cariello from
A BOAT THAT CAN CARRY TWO Bordighera Press: November 2011

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