Carmelo Militano

Book Review for Catching Desire:

Subterranean Blue Poetry

Volume IX Issue X


Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Catching Desire

Author: Carmelo Militano

Publisher: Ekstasis Editions

Date of Publication: 2019

Pages: 150

“So clear, so blue
I was swimming inside . . .”
- from Modigliani by Book of Love

It is The Art Gallery of Ontario, 2005, the rooms are full of the works of Modigliani. Captures the artists/the lovers in sculpture and portraits from Paris (early 1900's) a long time ago, all in rhythm, although the painted hands sometimes are awkward . . . like a song, the nude of Jeanne Hébuterne, the young art student calls at the end of the long room, her hands neatly tucked in behind her head, the stunning nude, surrounded in golded light.

Catching Desire, a book of prose with interspersed poetry by Carmelo Militano, tells of the life of the great painter, Modigliani, barely recognized in his own lifetime, yet well known in the Artists' milieu of Paris in the early 20th Century, his life, his lovers, his work. Carmelo Militano is an award winning Canadian poet, his family originally from Italy and a former journalist at the CBC Radio One Winnipeg.

The biography in poetic treatise researched in Italy and Paris, as the author/poet discovers the Artist in his homes and haunts and in the Archives, providing the background from which Militano spins his craft. Walking in the streets and bistros of Italy and Paris, the author/poet often intersperses the work with poems/prose written in the 1st person, using “I”, within the biography of the write in the storyline. Also, the author on occasion assumes the different roles of the principals in first person, creating an ambience of intimacy. The poetry within the prose is experiential tells a story in classical form, with the distant influence of the Beats.

This Art Nouveau biography is the magic of the Paris concourse, the Artists, the purveyors of art, their lovers, the quiet au sauvage that claims the moment, W.W. I and then W.W. II in the background the Spanish flu of 1917, the red plumes of tuberculosis. How the Artists commune together, the soirées, the broken love affairs, often the tragic, the shadows of poverty and disease. Also, the story of light how patrons give monies, how Modi is known to people, how he is given place. A story of the Artist dilettante, consumed by drink and dark passions of the heart. The recounting of how Beatrice Hastings (Modigliani's wealthy lover, a publicist) is thrown through a closed window in an argument with the Artist, and how Modi is shot at by her new lover Alfred Pina (sculptor) all occurring at public night soirées.

He meets Leopold Zborovski an art dealer who becomes his patron, he shuts him in a room with a model, a bottle of wine and his canvas, brushes and paints. Zbo arranges an Art Gallery exhibition at the Mansard Gallery in London, Modi sells some of his work and is given favourable reviews in the press. The living history, the stories, the days and nights of Modigliani are infused with a quiet violence of the heart, a dark suffering. When he dies there is a mad scramble to acquire his paintings . . . his painter's pallettes, his hats. And the triumph of the art of Modigliani, the nudes painted in archetypes, the golded bright that lasts long into the dark of night.

From Paris, April 1910 & May 1911
(an affair with Anna Akhmatova (poet))

On a bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg
We recited Verlaine under his old black umbrella
Delighted we remembered the same verses
Soft tap of summer rain kept the beat
At night it was his footsteps under my window.

His door locked
I toss a surprise bouquet of roses
One by one through an open window
He returned to find a formed charmed pattern
Convinced I somehow entered."

A brilliant recounting, moving from Livorno, Italy (Modigliano's birth place) to Paris, France, to Nice, a travelogue, a life lived in the escarpment of lovers and poverty, a certain madness, brought into cinematic with poetry and Archives notes, quotes from the greats. Capturing the life of the Artist, Modigliani lives. Capturing Desire by Carmelo Militano.

Available @ Amazon United States.

Available @ Amazon United Kingdom.

Subterranean Blue Poetry

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