by Dianalee Velie
While Dianalee Velie was teaching poetry in Italy, she composed these poems to reflect her love of the country and for her cousins in Santa Croce di Camerina, Sicily. Italian Lesson celebrates the sights and sounds of Italy—explorations of the local food & drink, sightseeing expeditions, and the lively spirit of the Italian people as they welcomed and shared their way of life. Come along on her Italian journey and you too will fall in love.
Inside the book, readers will also enjoy photos from the journey, taken by the author’s husband, Robert J. Popp. Here are just a few samples:
About the Author
Dianalee Velie is the Poet Laureate of Newbury, New Hampshire where she lives and writes. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and has a Master of Arts in Writing from Manhattanville College, where she has served as faculty advisor of Inkwell: A Literary Magazine. She has taught poetry, memoir, and short story at universities and colleges in New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire and in private workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her award-winning poetry and short stories have been published in hundreds of literary journals and many have been translated into Italian.
In the past, she enjoyed traveling to rural school systems in Vermont and New Hampshire teaching poetry for the Children’s Literacy Foundation. Her play, Mama Says, was directed by Daniel Quinn in a staged reading in New York City. She is the author of five books of poetry, Glass House, First Edition, The Many Roads to Paradise, The Alchemy of Desire, Ever After and a collection of short stories, Soul Proprietorship: Women in Search of Their Souls. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, the New England Poetry Club, the International Woman Writers Guild, the New Hampshire Poetry Society and founder of the John Hay Poetry Society.
Early Praise for Italian Lesson:
In her newest book, Dianalee Velie provides the reader with a vacation in Italy— the best kind of vacation, stunning beauty enjoyed in the company of the people one loves. Page by page, we are served her sheer pleasure of being alive. We travel with her to northern Italy, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily; along the way, we vicariously sip espresso and grappa, drink wine, or taste olive oil, all served in an impressive array of poetic forms (terza rima, ottava rima, terzanelle, rondeau). In a particularly playful exploration of traditional form, Velie describes a Lipizzaner stallion named Petrarch inside a Petrarchan sonnet. Along the way, we share with humor the inevitable snafus of being a tourist, such as her near disaster with a saint’s relics. Throughout Italian Lesson, imagery transcends the gastronomic to the historic and sacred. In one poem, the spear points of marching Roman soldiers transmogrify into olive tree leaves; in “Wizened,” we encounter a persona poem from an olive’s point of view. In “Blessings of the Birds,” a “flock of common redpoll finches/ their tiny heads capped in scarlet” land on her patio and become “like the cardinals descending upon Rome.” This poet is singing to the rafters about the glory of life.
—Alexandria Peary, New Hampshire State Poet Laureate
I have never been to Italy, and now I have. These poems have given me this country through lovers’ heightened senses: a wild and synesthetic journey.
—Marie Harris, New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Emerita
Dianalee Velie is a poet of exceptional vision and creativity. In Italian Lesson, like a master crafter of Vino Nobile, she picks her poetic grapes, her words, with care and insight, and creates sensual, evocative and multilayer images filled with love and nostalgia not just for Italy, but humanity, nature, earth, in poems that must be savored verse by verse. Che vino perfetto! Cin cin!
—Ala Khaki, poet, author of Return
Everyone who has visited or dreamed about Italy will delight in the wide-ranging images and experiences captured in Dianalee’s poetry. Her words make me eager to return to Il Bel Pease.
—Ken Tentarelli, award-winning historical fiction author