Monday, August 20, 2018



TRAVELING CLUSTER: poems in Italy by David Giannini
(New Feral Press, Oyster Bay, N.Y., 2018)

These are obviously poems inspired by the poet’s travels and memories of Italy. He does such poems well for David Giannini reveals himself not to be an unthinking tourist content with the surface of things.  Here’s an example—

—where the poet’s knowledge allows him to travel easily from the back of a modern-day cab to a time when the Visigoths and Huns battled each other.

In fact, the chapbook’s epigraph hints that this won’t be a collection of usual and tired travelogue:

In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
—Graham Greene

Here’s an example where Giannini freshens the travel poem after visiting the Museum of Torture in San Gimignano:

The poems are further enlivened by their illustrations which are taken from Picturesque Europe and Le Musee Elegant. Here’s a choice coupling of illustration and poem:

The image of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is iconic. Thus, the smart focus on the crossed hands allows the emphasis even as the (or many) viewer(s) inevitably recall the entire image.

Giannini is obviously taken by Italy—proof also being the chap’s opening and moving poem, “Notes Back Home, Brain-Packed” (“Freud and Jung, at independent times, having arrived by train, stepped off and fainted, having set foot in the mother: Roma”). But the collection is elevated not only by its intelligence but the flashes of the unexpected which I’ve come to expect—to anticipate—in David Giannini’s poetry. TRAVELING CLUSTER is delightful, and recommended.


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea Resurrects (GR)She loves books and has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her 2018 poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator, TANKA: Vol. 1and ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems which is a bilingual English-Spanish edition with translator Rebeka Lembo. She invented the poetry form “hay(na)ku” which will be the focus of 15-year anniversary celebrations at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries in 2018. While she doesn't usually let her books be reviewed by GR since she's its editor, exceptions are made for projects that involve other poets; in this issue, her edited EVIDENCE OF FETUS DIVERSITY is reviewed HEREMore information about her works is available at