Massimilla, Winner of the 2001 Bordighera Poetry Prize
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Massimilla was the Winner of the 2001 Bordighera
Poetry Prize Sponsored by the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation
Treitel was the First Runner Up
Massimilla of Sea Cliff, New York won the 2001
Annual Bordighera Poetry Prize, awarding
bilingual book publication. Sponsored by the Sonia Raiziss-Giop
Foundation, the prize awarded $1,000 to the winning poet and $1,000
to his translator, Luigi Bonaffini, of Brooklyn College, New York.
His newly published book Forty Floors from Yesterday will
be presented at a reception at Poets House,
New York City, November 21th, 2002.
Dorothy Barresi of Winnelka, California,
who served as distinguished poet judge for 2001 and 2002, wrote
of Massimillas poetry: "The surreal imagery in these
poems is crafted with a deft hand and a sure ear. The author has
put to fine use the strange emotional states wrung from the marriage
of unexpected things, but this strangeness is never created for
its own saketo shock usbut instead to illuminate the
darker corners of our longings. These are marvelous poems. Like
fairy tales they conjure, bewitch, cast inescapable spells."
down to a sample of Stephen Massimilla's poems
from Forty Floors from Yesterday. The award is given annually
for a manuscript of poetry written in English by an American of
Italian decent, to be published the following November in a bilingual
edition by Bordighera Press. More manuscripts than ever were entered
into the prize which is held annually.
Winning poet Stephen Massimilla has published poems in The
American Poetry Review, Tampa Review, Descant, Sonora, Salt Hill,
The Southern Review, Hawaii Review, High Plains Literary Review
and many other journals and anthologies. He completed a B.A. at
Williams College and Cambridge University, a term in the Graduate
Writing Program at Boston University,and an M.F.A. at Columbia
University, where he is now pursuing a Ph.D. in literature. His
awards include The Grolier Poetry Prize from the Ellen La Forge
Memorial Foundation, a Van Rensselaer Prize in poetry, a prize
from the Academy of American Poets, and the Art Institutute of
Chicago literary award. He teaches at Barnard College and Columbia
Dorothy Barresi, who served as distinguished
poet judge for the year 2002, is the author of All of the Above
(1991, Beacon Press), which won the Barnard College New Women
Poets Prize, and The Post-Rapture Diner (1996, University
of Pittsburgh Press), which won an American Book Award. Her poems
have been published widely in literary journals, including
Poetry, Parnassus, The Harvard Review, The Antioch Review
and The Kenyon Review, and her essay-reviews appear regularly
in The Gettysburg Review. She has been the recipient of
Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine
Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the North Carolina Arts
Council. Her poetry has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and the
Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Prize. She is a Professor of English
at California State University, Northridge, where she is Chair
of the Creative Writing program.
following poems are samples from Stephen Massimillas winning
book, Forty Floors from Yesterday. His manuscript was rendered
into Italian by the accomplished translator Luigi Bonaffini, Professor
of Italian at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York,
and published in a bilingual edition by Bordighera
Press in November 2002.
A smokelike cat with owl's eyes
triggered the wind-chimes in the garden.
It skipped and quivered high in moonlight,
flagging the top of the wall, then dropped
to the neighbor's cellar. My old books smell
like basements we grew up in, locked
under gleaming floors behind Brooklyn curtains.
And nights still dream like rooms we slept in,
reading your intricate braided hair.
Now the sky is often watched by a clock
in which your gown breaks apart as clouds
cross its pool of stars. I wake from reels
of wandering the street, where wind rocks
over a stop-sign, lost in the shaft
of a dream where I'm calling to you, begging
the darkness between us to be gone.
We had nothing at all. But we were too
ignorant about what was most our own,
about rooms of silence in the gardens,
all that assured us what wanting wants.
the tinkle of domestic pianos
all afternoon up the street, leaves
were whispering as if they had a secret
but were afraid to interrupt.
Two, three birds on a wire, and none.
In the dim-lit back of a shop
with no sign, she'd heard human noise
through the wall, a closing door,
a cough. In a feathered shadow
with openings for eye and mouth only,
she fixed on a piece of sun quivering
under the shade. She was blind,
but, did her lip tremble? Dust
from old gems weighted down the drawers.
Clock talking to a clock.
Finally I had to look: The street
was completely gated up. Just a man
lying on the pavement with newsprint
over him. Fat feet stuck out.
One gypsy bird in the sky.
blackbird fell in from the wet, litter, and darkness
of October's fretful splendor. Dusk had burnt up the pots.
The Trinitarian's bell, molten in sky-fire, had melted
into night. For that expanse, the live thing jumped
in feathered panic, ruffled through bookshelves, and hit
the wall. The desk was a mess, except for a green pool
of light shaped on its baize by a lamp hunched like a raven.
As mist uncurtained the stars, they squinted for what
they had lost. Then bleeding, in love with blackness, the bird
flapped up with a heart-hurried thud and took off.
In came a fresh squirt of leaves and the wailing
that echoes from cave-mouths when sirens have fled.
Everywhere light cast webs on fallen things. Pieced
and puzzled, the floor was strewn with poems . . . to you . .
. and God,
lifting black flaps of hair. I suppose I remember
on blood-matted wings, my heart bumping up
for your door, but whose hand got lost in the dark,
I don't know. Is Revelation reaching in the gloom?
©2001 by Stephen Massimilla, from Forty Floors from Yesterday,
Bordighera Press, 2002: The Sonia Raiziss-Giop Prize Series
for Poetry. All rights reserved.