Interview of Lidia Chiarelli by Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Lidia Chiarelli
Lidia Chiarelli is an eminent and dynamic artist and poet of our time. She has authored poetry books, anthologies and is one of the founders of the artistic literary movement, Immagine and Poesia. She is also an award winning poet of various Italian poetry contests, Pushcart Prize nominee and a judge in poetry competitions and Art festivals. Here goes an interview with an inspirational author and artist from the lovely Mediterranean country, Italy.
Vatsala Radhakeesoon:  Born and brought up in Italy, the land playing a crucial role in the fields of Art and Literature, please tell us about your background and actual life?
Lidia Chiarelli :
Being born in Italy and   being surrounded by various forms of
Art and poetry have certainly developed my love for both.  During my university studies, however I turned my interest to English and American Literature and Art.  As a teacher of English I taught creative writing courses. In my workshops, I led my students to transform their emotions into short poems and with the help of an Art teacher , turn them into images too.  Today I am operating mostly online in my Immagine & Poesia association, coordinating the work of hundreds of poets and artists from different countries, creating exhibitions and helping to organize poetry competitions.

Vatsala: You are both an artist and a poet, which of those creative disciplines came first in your life?
Poetry. My first encounter with poetry dates back to the 70s when I went to London for an English summer course for foreign students. One of the teachers suggested a kind of poetry competition and my poem ‘Rhythm of Life’ was very successful. Several years later, I met British poet Aeronwy Thomas (Dylan Thomas’ daughter) in Torino and her principle of cross-fertilization among poets and artists’ works opened up new perspectives by making it clear how Art and poetry might interact.

Vatsala:  What really prompted you to become a poet and an artist (that is , your source of  initial inspiration )
Lidia :
I started as a translator of  English poems into Italian, then, remembering the successful London experience, I tried to write poems myself.
Some American friends, including editor-publisher , Stanley Barkan of
Cross-Cultural Communications, suggested to go on and to publish my first twenty poems.  In my debut collection of poems Immagine & Poesia – The Movement in Progress (CCC, New York 2013) a few artists completed my poems with their artworks. The image of my installation of poetry tree was the conclusion of the book.

Vatsala:  Is there any particular subject or theme that you usually love to explore in your paintings and poems?
Lidia: Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility’ – this sentence by William Wordsworth is the key that prompts me to write poems. My poems are usually inspired by nature in its different aspects, but also by urban views – the same perspectives that had attracted the attention of Allen Ginsberg in his poem ‘Supermarket in California’. 
Poetry is usually the source of inspiration of my visual art. I create artworks starting from poems by famous authors and recently from my poems too.

Vatsala :  Which poets and artists are your favourites and have had an influence on your works?
 Lidia :My second book, Sunset in Cup (Edizioni Esordienti E-book,Torino,  May 2017) is a collection of poems that pays homage to 12 women writers of  English or American Literature dear to me: from Virginia Woolf to Emily Dickinson, from Christina Rossetti to Katherine Mansfield.
By each of them, I was inspired both for my poems and for my digital collages.

Vatsala : What are the sequences involved in your writing of a poem and your working on a painting respectively?

Lidia : In some cases it is a sentence  or a phrase in particular to arouse my inspiration. After writing the poems, I try to turn words into images and I create the digital collages.

Vatsala: You are one of the editors of the online anthology, Immagine and Poesia, published annually.  Please tell us about it and your other works (poetry books and paintings)?

Lidia: Since the inception of the Movement Immagine & Poesia
(Torino Italy, 2007) , I have tried to put into practice the principles of our manifesto and through the web I have encouraged poets and artists around the world to join us with their works.
To date , with the help of Canadian editor-poet-artist Huguette Bertrand, an anthology has been published annually for 4 consecutive years. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, icon of the American Beat generation has been one of the contributors in the issues of 2016 and 2017.

Vatsala : What impact does the fusion of poetry and Art have on the human mind, soul and society as a whole?
Lidia: “Beauty will save the world” says Prince Miškin in a famous novel by Dostoevskij. Well, I think that these words can be true in the difficult times that we are experiencing. The beauty of poetry and Art can help us to build a better world.

Vatsala: What type of poet and artist would you best describe yourself, the versatile one, the feminist or any other particular type?
Lidia: I think of myself as a versatile poet and artist. I am particularly an eclectic artist.  My works range from installations, to paintings to digital collages.

Vatsala:  How can both poetry and Art be used for the betterment of humankind?

Lidia: One of the points of our manifesto says that the interaction of poets and artists can improve understanding and respect among themselves. And I do believe in this principle. Art and poetry can bring together people of different cultures, nationalities and religions and lead them to cooperate with reciprocal esteem.  We hope that in the near future people will be more tolerant and mutually appreciative through the channels of the written words and visual images.

Vatsala: What advice would you give to young and emerging poets and artists?
Lidia: As to poetry I should say, read poetry, select your favourite poets and build a list of mentors. Get inspired by the environment or by the persons you know. Use concrete imagery. Let me quote Wordsworth again when he writes that ‘all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.
Similar passages for Art, first study Art movements, start with an ideological basis and then select the best medium for illustrating that point. 

Vatsala: As an experienced teacher, poet and artist, what message would you like to give to the world?
Lidia: Every year we take part in World Peace Day on September 21 with an installation of poems and little artworks on cardboards coming from different countries. Our peace tree is a real symbol of peace. I would like to recall the famous message of John Lennon and Yoko Ono ,give peace a chance”.
This echoes with my message to the world as well.

Vatsala:  We sum up this lovely conversation with one of your poems and some artworks uniting Art and poetry

Vatsala Radhakeesoon
Paths to Peace

“Poesía es lo imposible
hecho posible. Arpa
que tiene en vez de curda
corazones y llamas”
Federico Garcia Lorca

Send me words of love
and together
we will build
paths to Peace

Send me words of hope
and together
we will fill
thousands of blank pages

Our voices in unison
will become
the sweet sounds of a harp
carried by the wind

they will be
a new song
in the deep blue of a sky
that will not switch off
in the dark of the night

Kindle Edition
by ADA AHARONI (Editor)