Tuesday, March 31, 2020

#163 Backstory of the Poem "Winnipeg Noir" by Carmelo Militano

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***This is #163 in the never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 
Below Right:  Carmelo Militano in September of 2019

#163 Backstory of the Poem
“Winnipeg Noir”
by Carmelo Militano

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? 
          The poem emerged from something I had been thinking about for a long time.   I wanted to write a long poem about the city but I was not sure how to approach such a big topic. The eureka moment- or the answer- came to me when I was viewing an exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Left) and saw a painting by a First Nation’s painter that included images of a people in a forest on a riverbank sitting near a fire.
          So, I began with that image and included it in the first few lines of the poem. Part one more or less just poured out of me and it is a mash-up of what I had been reading before I sat down to write the poem as well as images, I pulled out from my adolescences . Part Two & Three I tried to use images from what I have seen and felt in the city at different times in my life. I sat down every day I tried to continue to pile images and to say something new and fresh. I wanted the poem to be a visual feast and thoughtful and skillfully down at the same time. (Above Left:  Winter in Winnipeg)

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail. I wrote the poem in the basement bedroom of the house I used to live. I converted the room into my study. It was a big room with two bookshelves on my right filled to the brim with a vast and varied range of poetry, ancient and modern history, erotica, fiction,  and essays. On my left was a low long table with shelves. On the top was a bunch of collected bric-a-brac: seashells, my mother’s prayer books, framed erotic post-cards, toy helicopter that could actually fly, two copies of ancient Greek sculptor, an African mask, and  a pile of ceramic Greek drink coasters. (Above Right Carmelo Militano's writing space today)

What month and year did you start writing this poem? I wrote this poem a few years ago now

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? It went through several drafts before I was finished. I don’t recall the exact amount of time it took. But, it did take a few months. However, I should say I never feel a poem is complete. I continue to tinker with some poems even after they have been published.

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version?  And can you share them with us? I don’t have any copies of my earlier drafts, alas.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? I want my readers to see the city through this poem; the poem is cinematic. I also hope they catch the irony, grit, and complexity of the city all filtered through the consciousness of a kid growing up in a Southern Italian family.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? I don’t get emotional when I am writing. I try to create or recreate feelings and images.

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where? The poem was originally published in my poetry collection Morning After You, Ekstasis Editions, 2014.

Winnipeg Noir: a suite of poems at the intersection of who we were and who we are.

Winnipeg Night: Part I

                                   “ Paris is an older woman loved by a young man.”
                                               John Berger

                                      “Winnipeg is a middle-aged woman longing to dance burlesque. “
                                                                 Marco Magani, The Gentleman’s Club
                                        Pulchritudinous night: beautiful night  

And the ancient silver sea salt stars watch over us at night

Unable to identify the cause and effect of our lives, our streets

When we belonged to the music and the mod clothes we could not afford

Unable, confused, we were orphaned by our longing

Orphaned by our friendly city that lay on the backs of the Red and Assiniboine

where the ghostly native fires split night like a lit match

We read fashionable poetry and avoided the meat and potatoes view

Stretched instead towards the silent blue Mediterranean and the cities of the coast

Alexandria once wounded by war where Cavafy used to sit in a cane chair at dawn

and watch the light gather in the dust-mooted room while his lover slept

The image later recalled by Durrell she was Clea

thin as a lily silhouetted against the pink broken morning sky.

Our city a broken ashtray in the grey black earth

stolen from a three-star hotel on the coast of the Italian Riviera over-looking the sea

Our city where the green brown rivers link and the mons banks

are thick with Elm, Oak, and Red Juniper, an arbor Arch de Triomphe.

We leaned towards the wind and the early poems of Pessoa

sad consciousness and will of a materialist poet in winter

who walked the rain-soaked streets of Lisbon without an umbrella

his Macintosh stained with rain but not yet famous or torn at the shoulder

City where the streets are shiny with pools of wet light.

City where a cat slips under a fence at midnight

City of broken streets, big box stores, and broken houses

beside the red-wheel barrel Williams insisted we see for the first time
City where you find yourself and lose yourself over and over again
City that urges you to be dissatisfied with the life you are living

where your girl friend drifted away
City of wind older and colder than the ice-caps on a dead January night

where you never became someone else    
City of flat wide empty streets and green Rocco treetops
City of a big dark velvet sky empty of angels
where orange-lit street-lamps push back a rare Rome inspired summer night
City still and silent at 4:00 a.m. 
Oh silent city and nights full of the secret life of a nun at prayer
City after all the people have left the court spectacles, coffee shops, bars, and     
the stage we call night

What remains is the Holy Trinity of coffee, fries and burgers hissing like lovers

Buona notte  ragazzi.  Good night Moon

It is already morning on the rogue streets of the Latin Quarter.

  Part II

  “ ...There should be no distinction between what we write down and what
        we really know.”
           ‘The Paris Review.’         
           Alan Ginsberg. The Art of Poetry. No.37, Spring, 1966

Black-winged night and its face of a thousands stars

Lemon-wedge moon in a blue cocktail sky
summer evenings tipped off the lip of jazz

smooth edges of buildings and chiaroscuro faces

throaty laughter outside a bar 
and sculpted legs made in stiletto heels  

a sky that opens like a suitcase

drinks long or squat and in disarray on the tables

a Bukowski night without honesty or directness.

City night is a nymph in summer,

cold crone in winter who sits in an Arts Space office on Arthur Street

and spits poetry in the eye

a modern Southern belle posing as an editor
she calculates how  to best hack off the fingers of poets, the head of desire

in the best romantic tradition when pausing to look out the window

before writing in her journal
she has a theory polished and bright  (but not fingernails)

to carry the present into the future

guided by the beauty of the night  and the fact she is right.

Part III

Oh, almost perfect city protected by our lady of winter

your statue in grottos scattered all over the city underneath bridges

under the cafes and restaurants on Corydon Avenue

on the long November sidewalks

first snow fall slow and indifferent as the trapped snow inside a snow globe

lit by the all night floral shops in Rome.

City a lover you had to kill before you left town

without any clues or sense of urban planning

Noir city a film where no one ever sees a trench coat at four in the morning

and streets never lead to the Forum

what is a grey winter sky

bare trees etched  like careless scars hold the empty night

Cut to the poem without images. Roll credits. Fade to silence.

The white blank screen is winter.

          Carmelo Militano began his writing career as a freelance journalist and broadcaster for CBC Radio One in Winnipeg. (Right:  Carmelo Militano in 2017)
He currently is a poet, writer, editor, teacher, and radio broadcaster.
Militano's poetry, fiction, and non-fiction explores the intersection and meeting of a dual consciousness–Italian & English Canadian–in History, classical myth, family, identity and the erotic.
Carmelo Militano hosted a weekly poetry show at CKUW FM 95.9 (Winnipeg), called the P.I. (Left: May of 2016) New Poetry Show, where he interviewed poets and writers. Podcasts can be found at Programs and Archives, CKUW, P.I. New Poetry Show.
          His poems, fiction, reviews and essays, and literary interviews have been published in a wide range of publications: Accenti, CV2, Italian Canadiana, La Macchina Sognante (Italy), Lemon Hound, Northern Poetry Review, Quebec Poetry Review, Sangara (Italy), The Lonely Offices, The Pacific Rim Review of Books, The Toronto Quarterly, PopMatters, and Prairie Fire.
Militano is also a member of the Association of Italian-Canadian Writers, League of Canadian Poets, The Writers' Union of Canada, and The National Book Critics Circle (USA).


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake CafĂ©”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
“Summer 1970, The University of Virginia Opens to Women in the Fall”
by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
“At School They Learn Nouns”
by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
“I Must Not Breathe”
by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

069 February 12, 2019
by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

070 February 14, 2019
“Daily Commute”
by Christopher P. Locke

071 February 18, 2019
“How Silent The Trees”
by Wyn Cooper

072 February 20, 2019
“A New Psalm of Montreal”
by Sheenagh Pugh

073 February 23, 2019
“Make Me A Butterfly”
by Amy Barbera

074 February 26, 2019
by Sandy Coomer

075 March 4, 2019
“Shape of a Violin”
by Kelly Powell

076 March 5, 2019
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear

077 March 7, 2019
“I Broke My Bust Of Jesus”
by Susan Sundwall

078 March 9, 2019
“My Mother at 19”
by John Guzlowski

079 March 10, 2019
by Chera Hammons Miller

080 March 12, 2019
“Of Water and Echo”
by Gillian Cummings

081   082   083    March 14, 2019
“Little Political Sense”   “Crossing Kansas with Jim
Morrison”  “The Land of Sky and Blue Waters”
by Dr. Lindsey Martin-Bowen

084 March 15, 2019
“A Tune To Remember”
by Anna Evans

085 March 19, 2019
“At the End of Time (Wish You Were Here)
by Jeannine Hall Gailey

086 March 20, 2019
“Garden of Gethsemane”
by Marletta Hemphill

087 March 21, 2019
“Letters From a War”
by Chelsea Dingman

088 March 26, 2019
by Bob Heman

089 March 27, 2019
“Clay for the Potter”
by Belinda Bourgeois

#090 March 30, 2019
“The Pose”
by John Hicks

#091 April 2, 2019
“Last Night at the Wursthaus”
by Doug Holder

#092 April 4, 2019
“Original Sin”
by Diane Lockward

#093 April 5, 2019
“A Father Calls to his child on liveleak”
by Stephen Byrne

#094 April 8, 2019
by Marc Zegans

#095 April 12, 2019
“Landscape and Still Life”
by Marjorie Maddox

#096 April 16, 2019
“Strawberries Have Been Growing Here for Hundreds of
by Mary Ellen Lough

#097 April 17, 2019
“The New Science of Slippery Surfaces”
by Donna Spruijt-Metz

#098 April 19, 2019
“Tennessee Epithalamium”
by Alyse Knorr

#099 April 20, 2019
“Mermaid, 1969”
by Tameca L. Coleman

#100 April 21, 2019
“How Do You Know?”
by Stephanie

#101 April 23, 2019
“Rare Book and Reader”
by Ned Balbo

#102 April 26, 2019
by Jefferson Carter

#103 May 01, 2019
“The sight of a million angels”
by Jenneth Graser

#104 May 09, 2019
“How to tell my dog I’m dying”
by Richard Fox

#105 May 17, 2019
“Promises Had Been Made”
by Sarah Sarai

#106 June 01, 2019
“i sold your car today”
by Pamela Twining

#107 June 02, 2019
“Abandoned Stable”
by Nancy Susanna Breen

#108 June 05, 2019
by Julene Tripp Weaver

#109 June 6, 2019
“Bobby’s Story”
by Jimmy Pappas

#110 June 10, 2019
“When You Ask Me to Tell You About My Father”
by Pauletta Hansel

#111 Backstory of the Poem’s
“Cemetery Mailbox”
by Jennifer Horne

#112 Backstory of the Poem’s
by Kate Peper

#113 Backstory of the Poem’s
by Jennifer Johnson

#114 Backstory of the Poem’s
“Brushing My Hair”
by Tammika Dorsey Jones

#115 Backstory of the Poem
“Because the Birds Will Survive, Too”
by Katherine Riegel

#116 Backstory of the Poem
by Joan Barasovska

#117 Backstory of the Poem
by Michael Meyerhofer

#118 Backstory of the Poem
“Dear the estranged,”
by Gina Tron

#119 Backstory of the Poem
“In Remembrance of Them”
by Janet Renee Cryer

#120 Backstory of the Poem
“Horse Fly Grade Card, Doesn’t Play Well With Others”
by David L. Harrison

#121 Backstory of the Poem
“My Mother’s Cookbook”
by Rachael Ikins

#122 Backstory of the Poem
“Cousins I Never Met”
by Maureen Kadish Sherbondy

#123 Backstory of the Poem
“To Those Who Were Our First Gods”
by Nickole Brown

#124 Backstory of the Poem
“Looking For Sunsets (In the Early Morning)”
by Paul Levinson

#125 Backstory of the Poem
by Tiff Holland

#126 Backstory of the Poem
by Cindy Hochman

#127 Backstory of the Poem
by Natasha Saje

#128 Backstory of the Poem
“How to Explain Fertility When an Acquaintance Asks Casually”
by Allison Blevins

#129 Backstory of the Poem
“The Art of Meditation In Tennessee”
by Linda Parsons

#130 Backstory of the Poem
“Schooling High, In Beslan”
by Satabdi Saha

#131 Backstory of the Poem
“Baby Jacob survives the Oso Landslide, 2014”
by Amie Zimmerman

#132 Backstory of the Poem
“Our Age of Anxiety”
by Henry Israeli

#133 Backstory of the Poem
“Earth Cries; Heaven Smiles”
by Ken Allan Dronsfield

#134  Backstory of the Poem
by Janine Canan

#135 Backstory of the Poem
by Catherine Zickgraf

#136 Backstory of the Poem
“Bushwick Blue”
by Susana H. Case

#137 Backstory of the Poem
“Then She Was Forever”
by Paula Persoleo

#138 Backstory of the Poem
by Kris Bigalk

#139 Backstory of the Poem
“From Ghosts of the Upper Floor”
by Tony Trigilio

#140 Backstory of the Poem
“Cloud Audience”
by Wanita Zumbrunnen

#141 Backstory of the Poem
“Condition Center”
by Matthew Freeman

#142 Backstory of the Poem
“Adventuresome Woman”
by Cheryl Suchors

#143 Backstory of the Poem
“The Way Back”
by Robert Walicki

#144 Backstory of the Poem
“If I Had Three Lives”
by Sarah Russell

#145 Backstory of the Poem
by Andrea Rexilius

#146 Backstory of the Poem
“The Night Before Our Dog Died”
by Melissa Fite Johnson

#147 Backstory of the Poem
by David Anthony Sam

#148 Backstory of the Poem
“A Kitchen Argument”
by Matthew Gwathmey

#149 Backstory of the Poem
by Bruce Kauffman

#150 Backstory of the Poem
“I Will Tell You Where I’ve Been”
by Justin Hamm

#151 Backstory of the Poem
by Michael A Griffith

#152 Backstory of the Poem
by Margo Taft Stever

#153 Backstory of the Poem
“1. Girl”
by Margaret Manuel

#154 Backstory of the Poem
“Trading Places”
by Maria Chisolm

#155 Backstory of the Poem
“The Reoccurring Woman”
by Debra May

#156 Backstory of the Poem
“Word Falling”
by Sheryl St. Germain

#157 Backstory of the Poem
“Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of 7,000 Jews Detained in an
by Liz Marlow

#158 Backstory of the Poem
“Why Otters Hold Hands”
by William Walsh

#159 Backstory of the Poem
“The Invisible World”
by Rocco de Giacoma

#160 Backstory of the Poem
“Last Call”
by Ralph Culver

#161 Backstory of the Poem
by David Dephy

#162 Backstory of the Poem
“Mare Nostrum”
by Janice D Soderling

#163 Backstory of the Poem
“Winnipeg Noir”
by Carmelo Militano

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