A Space Between
Story and history told as narrative poetry
Setting: Calabria, Italy & San Francisco, California, late 1800’s through 1960’s
Publisher: Bordighera Press
Date available: Winter 2019
Price: US$16 ISBN: 978-1-59954-149-5
Making a home while living between worlds can fulfill dreams. It can also cost you your life. Enter San Francisco’s turn of the century world through the eyes of an immigrant Italian family as they cope with complex challenges to their traditional way of life during a time of speakeasies, government corruption, natural disaster, the opening of the Golden Gate, and neighbors being sent to internment camps.
After a life threatening moment at the turn of the last century, Gaetano, a barber, leaves Calabria in Southern Italy, and immigrates to California to start a new life so his wife Luisa can later join him. Narrated in a several character’s voices, the poems tell the story of people between places and definitions searching for how to redefine themselves and feel at home as they encounter celebrations, losses, delights, difficulty and disaster. Consider what it means to be American, reflect on what carries us through transition’s hardship, and join this family in their journey across a space between worlds.
What others have said about A Space Between
Anna Citrino’s A Space Between is a powerful and moving immigrant family narrative that takes the reader from impoverished Calabria in the landscape of Italy to the challenging new world of San Francisco. She takes us inside the lives of these immigrants and all their difficulties while living between two worlds. They want their children to become American but the Americans do not see them in that way. In their hearts, they live by the old rules that Italians have lived by for generations—that if they work to find a place in America where they can be safe and raise their children, they can forge an identity between two worlds.
Citrino is an amazing writer. Her poems are lyric narratives that draw us in until we feel that we are part of the story she tells. I guarantee you will love this book and will want to read the poems again and again.
–Maria Mazziotti Gillan, American Book Award winner
“A Space Between” is a massive, ambitious effort of epic proportions that rewards with its interweavings of history, consequence, heritage and legacy. How heartening it is to witness in these poems the resonance through generations of immigration and sacrifice to provide for living, surviving, prospering. As the author smartly observes in her tight oxymoron, “Light hauls its weight from stone to stone,” it is refreshing to see forward in appreciation by looking back into the past that never leaves us.
Anna Citrino has woven the story of Italian immigrants – their small joys and compelling heartache – into a moonlit tapestry. Thread by poetic thread, this book is an exquisite fabric of personal journeys, cultural insights, and little known Italian-American history. I loved entering this “space between,” which Anna created with great love and profound grace.
– Catherine Ann Lombard, author, psychosynthesis psychologist, counselor and researcher
Anna Citrino’s new book, A Space Between, is that rarity in books of poetry, a book that coheres, where everything is of a piece. The book tells a story of a family’s history in two different countries. It is a book of narrative poetry that is also rich in carefully observed imagery, and that uses dialogue skillfully and carefully. The book brings vividly alive the immigrant experience. The differences between the two worlds that the characters inhabit are rendered with skill and delicacy, and manage to marry the gentle with the rowdy, the life affirming with that which threatens life, and to reveal that which is lost while celebrating that which is gained in the experience of immigrant life. A Space Between has epic sweep rendered in a wide range of voices, each distinctive, each compelling to a reader. The book is a remarkable achievement in its ability to create a family’s multi-generational history, to bring a wide array of characters vibrantly alive, and to make the ordinary events of ordinary lives into something extraordinary. This cycle of poems weds historical sweep to a lyric voice and sensibility. I recommend A Space Between to anyone who loves poetry, history, and the American immigrant saga.
–Michael L. Newell, author of Meditation of an Old Man Standing on a Bridge and Traveling without Compass or Map.
Though I currently live beside redwoods and oaks in Soquel, California, for twenty-six years I taught abroad in international schools in six different countries, each place holding wonders. Amazing things await outside our doors when we look closely with a curious mind and heart. Listening and watching for the details of life that speak, I carry my camera and journal with me nearly everywhere. They’re a net that helps me gather in the moments that make the world. Writing brings me joy. It allows me to enter life more deeply and to understand it more fully. I hope the words I write touch people’s spirits and affirm their inner selves.
To Find A River
What others have said about To Find a River
The heart of Anna Citrino’s To Find a River beats with longing—how saturated it is! She takes us with her as she moves through inquiries of goddesses and God, of art, of nature, even of desire itself; yet nothing is postured here, nothing self-important. She’s very clear that this isn’t just about her, that it’s about all of us: “I live in an apartment building / with three million others,” she tells us; and, later, the changes begin: “Earth becomes flesh—the dune’s round hip-curved turn,” a magical line which brings immediately to mind John Muir’s: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” “Plants suckle on stone breasts,” she reminds us. “Even stones / can speak of water.” But also, “I want to break open the twilight in me.” “Desire fills the sky.” Citrino’s penetrating, lyrical investigation is a reminder that, at our core, we are desire, that we are “reaching to be named.” This collection shines; in the very best way, by example, she sheds light on us. I name her Star. -–Renée Ashley, author of Minglements: Prose on Poetry and Life
“There’s a space inside me” says poet Anna Citrino and these poems launch us into its multi-generational exploration that extends from biological to cosmic, from heart to soul, from answers to deeper questions, from rock to water. Perhaps, praise alone for this luminous collection won’t convince you to read it, but if you pick up the book you’ll feel it soar of its own will, and you’ll consider yourself amply rewarded to have done so.
— Sarah Cortez, Poet, Essayist, President & Founder, Catholic Literary Arts
At first glance, Anna Citrino’s new chapbook could seem to revolve around the question: “What is it to be a woman.” However, her poems contain more universal themes from generosity and jealousy to humanities brilliance, such as in the poem: “At the Galleria Borghese, Bernini’s Vision:” “…This isn’t a about perfection. /It’s about how dreams run across the earth/like gods. Once a man carved and turned them/ into life. To see them is to find a name for light. “ Through her luminous poems, Citrino’s work takes us through ancient stories like that of Sarah and Abraham, to personal ones about her mother, to universal ones about caves where our mutual ancestors came from, touching the hand of the creator. Her travels have captured small and magnificent moments of women being nurtures, like in “Dolmades” to the questions of fertility, or of her complex maternal relationship in the line, “…I am the small pebble in her palm.” To Find a River, is a jewel that takes us on a journey of the self, finding out who we are as we place our existence up against life’s complicated stories and open questions. ––Robin Lysne, Ph.D. Author, Artist and publisher of Blue Bone Books, and seven titles including; Ceremonies from the Heart, for Children, Adults and the Earth and Mosaic, New and Collected Poems. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA.
In To Find a River, Anna Citrino offers tastes, sights, feelings, and fragrances harvested from a well-examined life. Here are poems of women viewed from diverse angles; portraits of relationships; statements—“we construct utopias for the self” or “not all things flat remain without dimension”—that are as enigmatic as koans. In these 16 poems, mothers, pagan goddesses, mythical beings, unborn children, and Biblical figures wander in a careful light, and address the reader from unexpected vantage points. You will want to be better acquainted with the strangers in these poems, and the questions Citrino poses, like “what does it mean to touch one’s dream and live?” will linger with you after you turn the final page. — Annie Stenzel, Author, The First Home Air After Absence“
Comments in response to Anna’s chapbook, Saudade:
Also available on Amazon
Anna Citrino’s poems are exquisitely beautiful! Her poems show us clearly the beauty, as well as the broken, on the dusty streets of Delhi and elsewhere around the world. Anna insists on looking, and not turning her gaze away, until the poem transforms her and our experience. Her poems fill us with longing for a world made whole again. –Georgia Heard
I have always wanted a literature that, to me, brings the world inside. Happily, the poetry of Anna Citrino does exactly that: her writing embodies the world in the best way, with concrete, tangible images we feel we can touch, hear, and see vividly. When she observes that “[t]he Portuguese created fado to hold the world’s longing,” I am enchanted to feel such waves of music rolling into my own existence. Her focus delves between fascination for the world and a deep responsibility to the world. For all of us who long for the world, this is a poetry that well provides. –Nicholas Samaras
“I want to write a poem / like a lightning bolt,” begins Anna Citrino‘s “The Poem I Want to Write.” No such ordinary—and dare I say benign—phenomenon as lightning could increase the impact of these subtle, penetrating poems. Lightning wishes it had the power of just one of Anna Citrino‘s images, or line breaks, or words. To read her work is to enter a world in which joy and sadness inhabit nearly every moment; to read her work is to become a citizen of this world. “We turn through the pages of time / and off we go each day to make our story, / paint our picture, lift our bricks, do our work,” she writes in “Seen and Heard.” With the poet Anna Citrino as our guide, off we go indeed. –Jean LeBlanc
I purchased Saudade because I’ve known Anna Citrino for thirty years; I loved the poetry because it’s exquisite. I read one poem each night for nineteen nights, savoring the poem like a fine port. At the end of each one, I felt as though I’d been taken on a journey and returned to the starting point with a fresh perspective. In “Into the Dark,” “We climb high up into the hills to peer through/the windows of a monastery, hoping to see/India’s highest mountain, Kachendzonga.” It’s a magical trek, even if “clouds surround us.” We may not see the mountain, but the possibility is there for us, unlike for the person whose “kaleidoscopic color” is “lost now/ to the gauze of blindness.” —Vinnie Hansen
…I read Anna Citrino’s book of poems, “Saudade”…What the poet does is write gorgeously, image upon image until she weaves a total sensory world, and you’re going along and then in the final lines, with the subtle turn, your heart sort of explodes, tears come, a sigh is extracted. I felt I had been not only to India or to her mother’s bedside, or her father’s, but inside a human heart. ––Lisa Lou
Books by Anna
A Space Between, Bordighera Press, 2019
Black Poppy Review
Collages and Bricolages
Evening Street Review
International Journal of Wilderness
Paterson Literary Review, issue 44, issue 46
Poppy Road Review
San Diego Poetry Annual 2016
Ship of Fools
So to Speak
Other publications where Anna’s work has appeared
“Practicing Presence” published in March 2019 in the Psychosynthesis Quarterly of the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis.
Decisions, Decisions, the Dynamics of Choice, a Chrysalis Reader
Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places, ed. Maureen Tolman Flannery
Safe to Chew, Wicwas Press
Chapter, “E-mail Publication Projects,” in Publishing With Students, Heinemann
various articles in the The International Educator
Free-lance writing for Six Red Marbles
Poetry Workshop Presenter
Students’ comments about what they liked about the poetry workshop:
- Now when I want to write a poem I’ll listen to song and see what I can think of “personification,” and sensory details.
- Thinking about objects and if they were alive how they would feel. Also looking at other people’s perspectives.
- It was really useful to know that comparisons between two ideas or things can create many ideas for a poem.
- Looking at landscapes, and her talking about them helped. I could start writing my own ideas with her experience.
- She helped me to be more descriptive and deep in my poems.
- I liked the class when we learned about line breaks and how it sounds different if you put a word on a different line.
- I liked writing with inspiration in music.
- To really think deeply about the tiniest and biggest and most extraordinary things that you can write about, and really use the right words to express these images and feelings.
Example Student Writing From Workshop
THE BEST HORSEBACK RIDER
The best horse back rider
is in my heart,
She wants to ride all day long and restlessly jump over hurdles,
to majestically ride in the light of the sunset,
to feel the warmness of the pony’s soft fur.
but she is getting older.
The ponies are getting too small and the stirrups too short,
I worry that she will never feel the warm sunshine or the the wind going though her hair
when she jumps again,
that no matter how hard she tries she will never have the feeling of her aching legs after
a long ride again
and that she will never
get to ride
I met sunset.
Her eyes were pink like cotton candy.
She wore a loose lavender dress.
She ran off, her steps light and graceful
Up and down the hills she went
laughing, not a care in the world.
On top of a hill she stopped
and greeted Night.
Hand in hand they walked off.
She looked back and smiled,
Fleeting and beautiful