of the Poem | In Schevchenko Park
Watching the Mayan Women
Rossina Villani Won the $2,000 Bordighera Poetry
Book Publication Prize Sponsored by the Sonia Raiziss-Giop
Covino and Margot Fortunato Galt Receive Honorable Mention
Distinguished Poet Judge, W.S. DiPiero
Rossina Villani of Pittsburgh with her manuscript titled, Running
Away from Russia, has been chosen first place winner 2000
of the annual Bordighera Bilingual Poetry Book Publication Prize
by W.S DiPiero, distinguished poet judge of California. She received
one thousand dollars at a ceremony held on November 2nd at Poets
House in New York City. Another thousand dollars was awarded to
her accomplished poet and translator, Luigi Fontanella, who has
been commissioned to translate her manuscript into Italian.
Peter Covino of New York City
was praised as first runner-up with sample pages from his manuscript,
Cut Off the Ears of Winter, and Margot Fortunato Galt of
St. Paul, Minnesota, was celebrated as second runner-up with sample
poems from The Annunciation. Two other poets were given
honorable mention by W.S. DiPiero for their manuscripts: Ed Smith
of New Jersey, whose grandfather was born in Salerno, Italy, was
applauded for his manuscript pages titled, A Postcard from
the Shore, and Mary Crescenzo of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was complimented
for her manuscript pages from Art in the Alzheimer's Wing.
Luisa Rossina Villani was born on a vineyard in Tujunga, California
in 1964. She holds degrees in Business Administration from the
University of Southern California, English from California State
University Northridge, and a Masters in Fine Art in Poetry from
the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught English in Russia
and the Ukraine, and in 1997 was the coordinator for Project Chiapas,
a nonprofit organization which conducted a field study of indigenous
politics at the Na-Bolom Cultural Museum in San Cristobal, Mexico.
Ms. Villani's short stories have appeared in The Literary Review,
The Lullwater Review, and her novel, The Battle for the
Red June was semifinalist for the James Fellowship for the
Novel-In-Progress from the Heekin Group Foundation in 1999. Her
poetry chapbook, On the Eve of Everything, was published
by WECS Press in 1998 as winner of their annual competition. Her
poems have appeared in The New England Review, Hayden's Ferry
Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, and other journals, and she
has been a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize. Among her other
awards are included the Suzanne Brabant Memorial Award, An Academy
of American Poets Prize, an Associated Writing Programs Intro
journals Award and a Masters Poetry Series Award. She currently
lives in Pennsylvania with her son, D. Alessandro. About her poems
from Running Away from Russia, W.S. Di Piero wrote:
liked this submission, Running Away from Russia, quite
a bit. The poems are dense with complex intimacies -- personal,
cultural, social. This is the one manuscript where I felt the
poet was making a raid upon the inarticulate. Formally, the poems
are really written in lines. I mean, you don't know what the poem
will discover as it makes its way, line by line, through or towards
its subject. This poet knows what he or she is after. A passage
in the first poem says: 'Sometimes I think it's a race/ between
what I know/ and what the poem can tell me.' That kind of self
consciousness runs through many of the poems, and it's a liberating
quality, not an inhibiting one. There are superb transformational
moments; my favorite comes at the end of 'Watching the Mayan Woman:'
....'until the sky goes threadbare with stars,/ he'll divine his
way home/ in shirtsleeves aglow with torchlight.'"
following five poems by Luisa Rossina Villani were among the sample
pages from Running Away from Russia judged by W.S. DiPiero
as winner of the 2000 Bordighera Poetry prize, Sponsor: Sonia
of the Poem
man claps his hands, his feet
crooked dance. Irregular in rhythm,
regular by trade, he opens his cracked palm
the tourists, while clutching
his chest. I'm sorry.
interrupted your story.
were telling me of Beirut,
bad times before your family left.
father couldn't man his store,
he took you to the movies.
were four. You saw Bruce Lee
Armenian: Enter the Dragon.
a nude scene came
father reached through the darkness,
his hands across your eyes.
look away. My retelling
not to offend you.
I think it's a race
what I know
what the poem can tell me. I'm a voyeur
it comes to story--getting used
this life of nowhere--and I'm moved
the way you finish your coffee
put the cup upside down on the saucer.
let hands haunt me & this science
mine than memory. I need
name of this place, the names
these men gathered around me,
I can tell you this and not that,
I can say with great clarity, "Well..."
I crumple these words
let my feet continue.
trumpets and balalaikas above the grass
songs your parents knew.
when the windows
into crystal portals,
looked out and saw you across the city,
small star advancing the horizon. Your mother
her hand on his shoulder, and they kissed
lovers, though this was nothing new.
she slept in his armpit,
breath chilled his beard. He scratched his chin,
stretched his arm into a dream, touching hay.
fitful night. The ox heaved as he held its horns
his father pulled the sweating ropes.
new calf. An old barn.
the family of nine would eat
the cow and her scrawny suckling,
take to gnawing the timbers.
passed over in a wave
four sons after them. The fifth stayed....
street could be anything
the edge of nothing. You don't know why
grandfather was hostile toward doors,
you're careful not to slam them.
we sit beside the bandstand,
think of you rising in the night,
red diamonds on your socks
one above the other.
stain mapped the ceiling,
I tried to name the country
before my eyes. Rain
its shadow, as you cupped your hands
the window. Does the past
you back, bearing you on a wave
crashes against a wall? It's only music now
I hear, but somewhere inside the sound
want to know what went before you in the dark,
in your rounded palms,
to light your way
or rain to grow a new city.
the Mayan Women
hang the window inside out
a shirt drying in a breeze
the arms that are missing come to me...
it's a song, one I don't quite comprehend
I do understand the laundry.
ash and rain water, a method
aunt taught me, but I'll never know
she learned it in Brooklyn. Her mind
gone to seed, blown by a stroke,
that dandelion puff called memory
flown far from her eyes. Some
remain. Procedures. If you burn
fire all day, feeding it snapped
faces pressed against the print
into flames--you end up
a barrel of white ash. If you take
it with rain, and let it sit for another day,
end up with a water
can confer brightness to anything.
you take that water,
soak in it your husband's shirts,
pause at dawn when he puts one on,
softness like a haunting afterthought.
if he works all day in the selva
the sky goes threadbare with stars,
divine his way home
shirtsleeves aglow with torchlight.
© 2000 by Luisa Rossina Villani. From her book: RUNNING
AWAY FROM RUSSIA, 2001. Bordighera Press: The Sonia Raiziss-Giop
Prize Series for Poetry. All rights reserved.