Italian Women In Black Dresses

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

Guernica Editions.142 pgs.
$13.00 (USA) (ISBN: 1- 55071-156-3)

Some days when we read poetry, we see writers dying of compromise. This is the moment to pick up Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s book Italian Women in Black Dresses to feel, with the speed of light, what truth can do. Here is childhood beautiful in its bewilderment, with its laundered sheets and harsh respect, a childhood hanging on its mother’s leg, hearing the story of elders. The power unleashed in Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s book is memoir but it achieves something more, because we find ourselves linked to the poetic experience. This is the remembrance of growing up and learning courage, and the wisdom where you cannot rearrange reality; but you can find its essence and its heart. The book moves through years to a lifelong partnership, her husband’s declining health, and the realization that inside every hello there is a goodbye. If a writer has taken your memories and made them her own, you have found a true writer. These are not Italian-American impressions; they are of every person who has ever felt love, betrayal, rejection, and longing. And this is the book I will give my students to show how gold is found in human consciousness, and how demons are turned to angels.