GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
WHAT THEY SAY IN AVENALE
Caroline Maldonado was born in London, lived for several years in Colombia, South America, and now divides her time between the UK and Le Marche, Italy, where she has had a house for the last ten years.The Italian experience has led her to write the lyrical poems that make up the poetry pamphlet, ‘What they say in Avenale’.
In her past life she has taught English, worked in a law centre and with migrants and refugees, and run a community regeneration company in West London. She took a Writing MA at Sheffield Hallam University where she wrote a novel but discovered that, at least for the time being, the power of poetry exerts the greater pull on her.
She has translated fiction and poetry into English from French, Spanish and Italian, and her poems have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and in anthologies. She co-translated, together with Allen Prowle, ‘Your call keeps us awake’, a collection of poetry by the Southern Italian poet, Rocco Scotellaro, which was published in May 2013 by Smokestack Publications.
For the last five years she has had the honour of chairing the Board of Trustees of the journal, Modern Poetry in Translation, which helps her to live in a constant state of discovery of great poets from across the world, both past and present.
What they say in Avenale
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: December 2014
What they say in Avenale
This house, nobody knows how old.
I lived here, says Gino, for twenty years.
A strange house, says Franco as we climb
through animal stalls and wine cellars.
Here, points Pierino, there’s stone
behind the rendering, over there
will be brick. No earthquake
will shift this house, says Mirko.
A cruel month, kitchen garden empty
seeds barren in the soil
wheatfields crackling like tinder.
He waits for her in the next room
she can hear his creaking chair
all day he sits.
Sunflowers bow their bronze heads
frogs lie coupled in caked mud
a mix of clumsy thighs.
Sweat slides down her breasts
like broken necklace beads.
She looks out for signs, there are no signs
towns are dust-covered from hurricanes.
Everywhere she reaches for currents of air
enough to sway a skirt and be a harbinger.
Bullet or dried pea smacks the tin roof
followed by a spilled bucketful running
down like rats. She steps outside feet bare
opens her mouth to tongue drops
returns before his door, hesitates.
After days of heat finally the rain
a fine rain, a shiver in the air
a whisper against the thick sky.
I can hear it now tut-tutting through
the poplar leaves like a vexed mother.
You’d have thought it would bring relief
but no - soon it is gone
and the earth’s mouth wide open.
Late evening I saw you, wolf,
trotting before me
all alone on the road
nobody uses any more.
Then you were gone
high up beyond the juniper
and flowering judas.
People told me
there were no more wolves
in the forests.
In breaking daylight
the farmer called on his son to help him.
Together they piled one
torn sheep on the other.
The musician in Naples
On a low wall in a church square
the Imuhagh musician says:
‘Two hundred in a fifty foot boat.
Crushed in the motor room we couldn’t
breathe. Twenty five died.
The last of the bottled water we gave
to the children and when help came
we handed up the babies first.
In a hostel near the station
they give us coupons for food.
Each morning we stand guard
by a sheet on the pavement
and peddle our wares,
a jacket, old trainers, a phone.
I used to walk for hours in the desert.
I was blessed with solitude.
The land and I were one’.
È la vita
Six o’clock and everybody’s out.
The air’s cooling and the sun setting on Treia
makes the hilltown float.
Below wheatfields fall away
in liquid honey. Gabriele is back on the rooftop
fixing tiles on his son’s house.
His friends compliment him on its walls,
how he’s lined up the stones leaving ledges
for the roosting pigeons
and for the madonnina
an arched alcove over the front door
like the house he grew up in.
Anna’s on two sticks now.
Four months ago her husband died
in his sleep. È la vita, she says,
recalling how he courted her,
walked two hours to her village
after herding his sheep.
Maria Luisa guides her grand-children
along the path and Giancarlo
in his vest hoes his vegetable patch.
In the lake
Head above water
pivoting like the periscope
of a submarine, its body
a keen rope pulses it forward.
Swaying from side to side
the snake explores its shoreline
- minnows in the shallows,
crusted mud, pebbles and scrub -
before dipping back into the deep.
I slip out into the lake’s centre
stroke aside the still water
flecked only by a dragonfly
or further off a leaping carp.
Here I can shift a monastery
or mountains. I can split the sky.
Who do they belong to, forked
and pale, floating below me
through the milky green?
“In spare, restrained language she is able to paint a description that glows like an icon, not only noting with precision and clarity what is visible but also providing clues to what may lie below the surface.”
‘Poetry on the Lake’ festival and competition
“They are bittersweet poems, delicate and subtle, by a poet with a flair for evocative, sensual writing, yet containing darkness as well as light, with death and loss often close by. There is an interplay between these beguiling poems that offers a multi-faceted experience of life rooted in a small village but with implications far beyond.”
Poetry editor, Sentinel Literary Quarterly