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Negotiating Caponata

by on 25 October 2020

Poignant Human Values

Negotiating Caponata

by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Review by Heather Moulson

Come with me to Scilly.  This beautifully designed debut book of poetry, written by the prolific poet, Carla Scarano D’Antonio, is a very personal collection that presents us with real human values, voices and relationships.

Pajarita embraces us at the beginning of the book. The definition of a delicate yet empowered bird designed in folded paper that takes us gently on the poet’s journey. 

Poignantly unravelling, and placed into three very significant sections, we are greeted by the book’s title … Negotiating Caponata

The title poem is an emotional reflection expressed in food and its preparation, that part of our lives that we value, but often don’t see.  Its subtext ignored, we regularly put food into our mouths and satisfy our hunger without a second thought.  The poet’s words emphasises its very significance.  Parsley and Special Carbonara have vivid and colourful images of food expressed with the emotion that it is prepared and ate with, described lingeringly and with passion. 

Cooking Betrayal is a personal favourite.  Where tensions and family issues are tangible, and say so much, a very human situation bubbles up.  Farina Manitoba also speaks volumes. Midwinter Stew might be the ultimate comfort food but it has a tense overtone.  The strikingly described piece What I Was Leaving follows as an entrée.   Only A Cake, a tribute to The Edible Woman, my favourite Margaret Atwood book, has intense detail and a very disturbing comparison. 

The second section entitled My Father’s Death moves us to a new emotional level, and the poet opens up another dimension.   Early Flight is a highly significant journey, and one of many heart-breaking trips to a mother country.   “The suitcase is heavy with books” indicates the emotional heaviness, which weighs a lot more.   

Your Illness, despite being beautifully written, is hard to read objectively.  We tend to turn away from raw truth, and the frank history of a long marriage.   At the Hospital, the poet takes us every inch of the way, especially with the last moving line, “Don’t you dare – you said from your deathbed.”  Your Last Words perversely says an awful lot.  Words packed with emotion, and a loss emerges like a heavy shadow.  Dispersing Your Ashes conveys a detailed and vivid story that could only come from real real loss and sadness.   A good strong piece to end this razor-sharp section. 

In Touch, the last section reflects both ghosts, and family members very much alive.  The contrast working well.  Grandad Ciccio and Grandma Orsola create a strong montage.  As a loving tribute to a previous generation, they build a fascinating tableau.    Mum During The War reflects hardship and families pulling together through the harshness of war.  Their men gone to fight, they have to fend for themselves.   Childhood tales unravel in Snake Eggs, and In Touch With My Daughter In Tokyo reflect the genuine ache for a grown child, another painful loss.  Walking Through The Seasons is a frank and moving account of the year, vividly describing details of nature that opens up to us like a complete picture, reflective and colourful.   The New House, the penultimate poem, is a moving account of a new start, and the love and hope that comes with it.    A good ending. 

Negotiating Caponata is terrific personal collection.   Scilly or Surbiton, I would recommend such a poignant journey.   I can’t wait for the next trip.

Heather Moulson, October 2020

Photography by Natalie Truffant

One Comment
  1. Elaine Barton permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I am finding out more about this author and plan to read her book.

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