It is an opera, serious, but also full of joy and life and, at times humour. The book (without sacrificing any of the major pieces or losing the thread of the themes of family and food) borrows its structure from opera. It has an overture, two major acts or portions, separated by a very moving intermezzo, and finished off with a finale. There are tragic notes, of course (no opera is complete without them) but also notes of exuberance. To Make a Bridge has arias, duets, choruses — everything that makes it worth reading and watching.
– Bruce Meyer author of Pressing Matters, Black Moss Press.
To Make a Bridge, by Antonia Facciponte, is a sound symphony, cornucopia of culinary delights, full of recipes for connecting—families, generations, cultures and characters. Structured in “l’arte della famiglia et culinaria,” the poet-speaker shows how “bridge-making … [is] an act of creation,” connecting family with food, past with present in metaphors of kneading bread, planting seeds, canning tomatoes. Poems, alive with “pulpy physicality” and specificity, are dusted with ink and flour, where “each word/ [is] a sonant bridge … reaching though sound to another soul,” where, just as in the kitchen transformation of “vegetable into ingredient,” each poem becomes “one storied bite/ in a feast.”
– Kate Marshall Flaherty author of Radiant, Inanna Publications, and Reaching V, Guernica Editions.
To Make a Bridge sparks like a torch. With fierce light and not a little heat, it reveals the subtle passages of a life that moves among, beyond, and ever back to family. Antonia Facciponte’s poems are a cache of sumptuous recipes; a cabinet of heirlooms; a key in a lock.
-Robert McGill, author of Once We Had a Country, Penguin Random House Canada
Antonia Facciponte’s debut collection raises poems that span generations to appreciate and pay homage to the art that is her Italian-Canadian family. Forget lofty fabrications; instead, the poet uses “mouthfuls of ink” to shape bonds formed by earth and body, by bread that cooks up “a bridge between food and tongue.” Following her own edict, Facciponte transforms inter-generational feasting, the uprooting ocean-crossing and home-building into “bearings that bind.” Her searching contemplations “jar memory” and reform into evocative, sonically rich poems spiced with argot and idiom. Deftly wrought verses translate prosaic tableaus into ancestral wisdom. Her pen welds sensual, wide-ranging memoir to a literary lineage forged by female Italian-Canadian bards as Facciponte composes herself as an original, riveting voice.
-Giovanna Riccio, author of Plastic’s Republic, Guernica Editions
Antonia Facciponte’s new poems run pure and free, and at the same time they plunge,
crackle, darken, and shine. Her work has the rich density-in-unity of life. To Make a Bridge, her first book, fully the best of contemporary English-language poetic form to her beloved subject matter of Italian life and heritage. As she puts it, “I, Pomodoro / am luscious red / tainted and crusted in / the here of ripe Canadian dirt, / a body / drooping raw, drying in sun…”,
This original, innovative poet has absorbed the poetic moment of Karen Solie and Ken Babstock, and transformed it into something all her own. She stands already prominently in the line of Italian Canadian poets that includes Len Gasparini, Pier Giorgio di Cicco, Gianna Patriarca, Mary di Michele, Mary Melfi, Giovanna Riccio. Most of all, she stands on her own as a new voice who can take in the loving struggle of life and match it with poetry equally alive.
For a first taste, I’d recommend dipping into the phenomenal sequence of tiny poems, “Life Sentences”, or reading the short, brilliant praise of art and the acts of love entitled “The Cabinet of Fame”.
– A.F. Moritz, Poet Laureate of Toronto