Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fiery Power of Poetry: Guerrilla Blues.

No, it’s not because I love Alessandra Bava that I write a blog for her poetry chapbook, Guerrilla Blues.  That’s not how I work. It’s because she can write poetry with the best of them and you need to know about it.

Now, I’ve been trying to figure my way into this blog post and end up going on and on about so much other stuff, when I want to focus on her poetry.  So, I write stuff down, delete it, write something else, cut part out, this and that and at this point, I’m going to do what I normally do, one of the best pieces of advice I can give a writer: stop thinking! Yes, turn my brain off and Just Write! 


When Alessandra and I realized over two years ago our attraction was something more than friendship, we opened up as people normally do, and she mentioned something about writing poetry, something she used to do but didn’t do any more.  I asked to read some of those poems.

I was blown away.

They were different than much of what I thought of as poetry, but my poetry was probably more influenced by rock n’ roll lyrics.  Jim Morrison—always hit and miss for me, but when he got it right, yeah!—Ian Curtis, a few others.  What she was doing in those early poems had shape; the words formed into something more than just words, if that makes sense.  Visual as well as vital in their messages.  Or simply concise, something else she does so well.  Direct, to the point.

I was inspired.  I started writing poetry as a reaction to her poetry as she expanded my knowledge of poets and poetry.  More so, I suggested she write poetry again, because she had talent, a knack.  She had “something special.”

She has something special.

She’s told the stories in her blog, heck, there’s a bit of it in the introduction to the collection, written from the perspective of former SF poet laureate, Jack Hirschman, about how we all met in SF, when Alessandra and I had decided to see about US…and the old guy casually barged in as he does, a force of nature…no no, he didn’t really barge in, but he was there in the famous poet’s café, Caffe Trieste, the first day we were there, somebody stopping him as he was leaving, Alessandra saying, I know that face…something to that effect.  I said I heard the person who stopped him call him “Jack,” and by that evening she had realized he was, well, as I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.  The next time in Caffe Trieste, he was there again, and she couldn’t resist introducing herself and expressing her admiration for his work, having bought some of his poetry and loving it. We found out about his Italian connections—no no, not the Mafia, but one of his main publishers—and away we went.  A friendship forged, a focus deep within her brought out by Hirschman’s ideals, and all those who write poetry for the people, poetry of the times, poetry with teeth and fire, with human concerns and not just about pretty flowers and love, but love, sure, she wrote those too.  For Love or simply with Passion! No pretty flowers poems, though, thank you very much.

She’s got so much more to SAY.  There’s so much more that MATTERS! 

Anyway, late last year she wanted to enter a contest in which the prize was to get a collection of poetry published.  She worked diligently in putting together one for the contest.  We went over stuff, she added and built one that was and is quite good.


She’d started gathering together Rome’s revolutionary poets and wanted to put together an anthology of these poets, myself included, me and my Honorary Italian Credentials, triggered by Hirschman and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade as this was to coincide with the second RPB anthology to be edited by him.  She’d heard of a local Italian publisher via one of the Roman poets and was set to meet him and discuss the project.


Never one to think small, she had an itch, a desire that ran deep within, and over the span of a day or two, out of nowhere, she sent me a different collection of poems, one out of the blue as the cliché goes, or in this case, out of the red: something of true power and focus and, yes, as is today's theme, fire.

Guerrilla Blues.

I was more than blown away.  This collection captures Fury and Passion and tosses it as a Molotov Cocktail at the world, something to get your attention.  Something to insist you Open Your Eyes!  My initial response, slightly tweaked:

“Stunning! Your collection is Stunning! Powerful, compelling.
Love the sequencing, perfect. I see the broader scope at first, of names, history, etc., working toward a more personal scope borne of the ideals of what came before. The transition is smooth, the poem on Che being the linking one, from history and fire, to the more personal aspects, and fire. Then we weave through some muses, who still carry that same Jack's finale, and back to the melding of history, fire, the present, and a collection that packs such potency, the reader is left invigorated! I must say, the beginning, those first handful of poems, so heavy, such depth...the Che poem is necessary then, perfect, really perfect sequencing.
I personally think it's fine as is. I do not think it needs any more, but if the publisher you speak with tonight wants more, you can work it, of course. But this, it has such resonance as is. I think it stands tall as is.
Really amazing work, love reading them again, the full foundation of ideas and ideals and a personal philosophy of such strength.”

Yeah, see, when I like something, I’m rather obvious and go on a bit much, but I stand by those hastily typed words.  More so, re-reading the poems again, the rewards are even stronger.  These are words we all need to embrace.  By a stylist who deserves your attention.  She’s got that something special.  It’s called talent. Vision.  To read a poem like “The Trench Diggers,” and rejoice in the wondrous banter and actions of Rimbaud,  Dostoevsky, Whitman and more; the words aflame and of depth and thought-provoking--“But, my dear boy, the seeds of Truth always lie in wait in the darkest abysses.”—then to follow that one with “October 9, 1967,” and the death of Che Guevara, and a voice of Now—her voice--an allegiance built on perspectives in sync, of, again, similar ideals forged in fire.

Astonishing!  Essential!  Inspiring! 

I enjoy a wide variety of poetry, even write my own.  I even write some poems lit with a similar fire.  But as with most all of the poems Alessandra Bava writes, I am made to step back and take a deep breath after reading them and being slugged in the stomach again; or the mind.  I have a lot of work to do to even approach what she’s got, that something special--yes, the other theme running through this blog--that resonates deep into the soul of humanity and what it means to Be Here Now!

This is nothing like what I pictured writing.  I've got so much more to say, to express, to revel in.  But I hope it inspires some of you to want to check out Guerrilla Blues, the first of what should be many books from a truly amazing poet, Alessandra Bava.

Copies can be purchased via a lot of European distributors.  Here’s the link for Amazon in Italy:
But for those of you in the states interested in purchasing a copy, a signed copy at that, you can order directly from her.  Her email is:  

Here’s the amazing cover art, a photograph of broken glass that actually looks like a profile of a face to me, by fellow Revolutionary Roman Poet, Marco Cinque.  Enjoy!

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