AN ITALIAN AFTERNOON
An Italian Afternoon is a collection of poems in various forms such as open field, a Terza Rima, a Sestina as well as lyric poems about the author’s travels in Italy and her prolonged stay in Sipicciano looking after two beautiful dogs. The poems capture the essence of Italy: the people, the landscape and the antiquities.
‘In this sequence Wendy Holborow demonstrates her lyrical and descriptive powers to advantage, and transmits to the reader the excitement and freshness of visiting a new place, in this case, Italy. She handles different forms deftly, and includes art history as she shares her experience, with a compulsive lightness to her language.’
An excellent review in Envoi Spring 2019 by Alex Josephy.
‘Vivid, sensuous, beautifully observed, Wendy Holborow's poems perfectly capture the experience of Italy. Pylons and freeways are set against the backdrop of castles and hilltop villages, and contrast with railway lines and dark Stygian tunnels. This dichotomy is reflected in the form: an eclectic mixture of the traditional and experimental, sestina and terza rima rubbing confidently with free verse and concrete poetry.’
In Sestina for David, one of the first poems in the newly-launched Indigo Pamphlets collection, "An Italian Afternoon", poet Wendy Holborow asks Michelangelo's famous statue if it noticed her "sensibilities grew immense" as she pushed her way through the crowds to see it. Readers of this collection will certainly notice this poet’s sensibilities. The poems are suffused with them, whether she is arriving in Venice or blackberry picking in Sipicciano. Capturing sights, sounds and sensations that are familiar to everyone - trains and tunnels, the behaviour of birds and beasts, the nature of heat and rain - Wendy Holborow invests sharp observation with a poignancy heightened by unfamiliar circumstances. She is also adept at employing sometimes unusual but brilliantly appropriate poetic forms. I was particularly impressed with On the train to Rome which captures the rhythm of the train with exceptional panache. This slim volume is a joy to pick up and read in one sitting, "hoovering crumbs of memory" in many a reader, as well as the writer, I suspect.
'Blackberry Picking in Sipicciano' was published on the Poetry Space website:
and in their Winter Showcase Journal.
'A gentle poem that took me with its author on a slow and unplanned walk where dusty countryside contrasts vividly with succulent berries.'
Di Coffey (Editor)
Is there an antidote to a cold wet Welsh winter? For me it is "An Italian Afternoon" by Wendy Holborow. An evocative and lyrical poetry collection. The light and warmth of Italy practically bursts from pages such is the level of nuanced detail. The reader is left with a real feeling of time and place. The collection includes a wonderful sestina, a fiendishly difficult poetry form to master. The shaped poems capture the changing patterns of light and darkness and is the feeling and warmth of light that stays with the reader. Highly recommended.
A beautiful and evocative collection of poems by a skillful, perceptive poet that perfectly conjures up memories of Italian holidays for me. Highly recommended.
Wendy Holborow's new book, An Italian Afternoon should be sponsored by the Italian Tourist Board and provided free at every NHS hospital and every doctor's surgery to all those suffering from lack of sunlight and the SAD disorder. Its poems take the reader into the warmth of an Italian summer and its sights and sounds from the incessant background chattering of the cicadas to the poet following the sun around the yard like a cat and, when it gets too hot, inducing coolness by relaxing near the fountain. She hymns a Sestina of praise to Michelangelo's David and takes the reader with her to the Sulphur Springs of Alviano and on the train to Rome and finds joy in the simple act of blackberry picking in Sipicciano. An Italian Afternoon is as good as a season ticket to the land of the Tuscan sun and all its attendant delights.
Do not sail into the city on a dark marmorial
December morning with nothing visible
but teasing lights of sporadic Christmas trees
under graceful awnings, like baubles
adorning a woman’s neck.
As dawn flirts with night,
abandoned gondolas poise like
mute black swans, wings hunched against
icy tracery of exploded lace.
A disconsolate seagull hovers.
Yet in spring, mists veil the land
like a bride waiting to be revealed.
The rising orange sun displays
an escort of singing gulls.
Venice steals into view, a pearl
like those nestled around the bride’s throat.
SOLITUDE IN SIPICCIANO
abstracting words sounds sentences
verses whole poems and narratives
from a void that seems unfillable
until inspiration is bogged
down like a boat sucked into sand
stuck needing a huge wave
to dislodge it
her solitude annihilated
by the imminent arrival of certain of her friends
whipped up in a whirlwind
of tasks preparations the mundane
that takes her away from the sublime
people have stolen the words that come
in her isolation – extinguished
them with babble and chatter – her mind
clogged by an idle clutter of words
she should live like the artist Lear
who preferred to write letters
than have friends intrude
into his solitude