28 February 2007

New Book by Vittoria Repetto

Woman-Stirred is pleased to share this great news about the release of Vittoria Repetto’s book.

Below is a great poem, "la bella figura" by Vittoria, as well as ordering information about her new book of poetry, Not Just a Personal Ad, published by Guernica Editions.

"Not Just A Personal Ad by Vittoria Repetto: Poems of intense sensibility and gorgeous imagery are a rarity these days; but this book of verse by a distinctly working class, distinctly lesbian, and distinctly Italian American voice is a must for all readers of good poetry."
Rigoberto Gonzalez - On My Nightstand - Lambda Book Report - Fall 2006

la bella figura*

la bella figura
dad believed in it
after mama died
he tried to dress me
no s. klein, gimbels or macy's
for him
it was
lord & taylor's
bonwit teller
for me
growing up mid 1960s
off bleecker st.
it was the army-navy store
all i wanted was a pair of levi's
had to buy it myself
out of ten dollars allowance
as soon as the blue jeans got comfortable
you know
soft and faded
i'd come home
open my closet
they'd be gone
happened every three months
his daughter shouldn't look like
a figlia di nessuno
nobody's child
i had to save up
not buy school lunch
nothing in the fridge
i ate pasta heros for weeks
now when i go for sunday dinner
i wear blue jeans
if they're ripped
even better.

*la bella figura - the concept of making a good appearance


This collection of poems manifests a genuine sensibility interacting with a striking poetic gift.  The meld is seamless.  Repetto uses contemporary American idiom with a skill that approximates Dante's with the Tuscan dialect.  Her precise, compact, colloquial cadences in this collection of 49 poems assemble the reality of growing up lesbian Italian American in lower Manhattan, loving and losing a mother, hating and reconciling with a father.  Running, stumbling, recovering, her lines replicate the struggle between the contradictions of love and desire, work and leisure, pride and passion.  No holds barred erotic episodes are unforgettably incised.  Artlessness is achieved with great art. 

Finally, Repetto, without deprecating her innate butchness, emerges as a transcendently feminine person who has stitched together in these poems an entrancing crazy quilt that unabashedly reveals the here and now of human life, New York City edition.  While much of the subject matter of Not Just A Personal Ad will have a special relevance for both Italian Americans and gays and lesbians, its audience is unlimited.

To order Not Just a Personal Ad:
Guernica Editions, Inc
ISBN 1-55071-244-6/ 978-1-55071-244-5 - 84 pages $13 U.S.A. / $15 Canada

Available at:
Bluestockings Bookstore
McNally Robinson NYC
Toronto Women's Bookstore
Powell's Books
Barnes & Noble.com
Amazon.com
or have your local independent bookstore order it!

Vittoria Repetto has been published in Mudfish, Voices in Italian Americana, Rattle, Lips, The Paterson Literary Review, Italian Americana, Unsettling American: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin), Identity Lessons: Learning American Style (Penguin), The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food & Culture (Feminist Press), and Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly among others. Her poems have been chosen as "Editor's Choice" in the Paterson Literary Review for four times in a row since 2003.

Vittoria Repetto is the vice president of the Italian American Writers Association. She was a judge in the 2005 Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry & Thomas Gunn Award for Gay Poetry and she has been hosting the Women's Poetry Jam at Bluestockings Bookstore for the last seven years.

For further information: contact Vittoria Repetto at Vittoriar@aol.com

14 February 2007

In memory of Rachel Crites and Rachel Smith


I live in the Washington, DC area and read about the deaths of “the two Rachels” immediately upon their disappearance and the eventual discovery of their bodies. As always when two young women die together, my partner and I wondered, were they lesbians? The Washington Post has not been forthcoming about the nature of their relationship. In fairness to them, unraveling the sexual orientation of two young people after their death is difficult. Nevertheless, making visible the challenges that face gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people is essential for mainstream newspapers like The Washington Post to be credible.

The Washington Blade covered the story in more depth. Ironically, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has recently released a report on homelessness among gay and lesbian youth. Homelessness being just one of the challenges that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens face.

The most compelling things that I have read about the death of these two young women is by Carolyn Gage, a lesbian playright. She wrote an essay called, Shakespeare Got It Right, and a poem, For Rachel Crites. These are both hosted by Sinister Wisdom, a Lesbian magazine.

All of us at Woman-Stirred mourn the untimely deaths of Rachel Crites and Rachel Smith and work to create a world in which teen suicide doesn’t exist and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers are able to live openly and honestly as who they are and receive the respect and support of their families and communities.