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In her newest book, Dianalee Velie provides the reader with a vacation in Italy— the best kind of vacation, stunning beauty enjoyed in the company of the people one loves. Page by page, we are served her sheer pleasure of being alive. We travel with her to northern Italy, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily; along the way, we vicariously sip espresso and grappa, drink wine, or taste olive oil, all served in an impressive array of poetic forms (terza rima, ottava rima, terzanelle, rondeau). In a particularly playful exploration of traditional form, Velie describes a Lipizzaner stallion named Petrarch inside a Petrarchan sonnet. Along the way, we share with humor the inevitable snafus of being a tourist, such as her near disaster with a saint’s relics. Throughout Italian Lesson, imagery transcends the gastronomic to the historic and sacred. In one poem, the spear points of marching Roman soldiers transmogrify into olive tree leaves; in “Wizened,” we encounter a persona poem from an olive’s point of view. In “Blessings of the Birds,” a “flock of common redpoll finches/ their tiny heads capped in scarlet” land on her patio and become “like the cardinals descending upon Rome.” This poet is singing to the rafters about the glory of life.

—Alexandria Peary, New Hampshire State Poet Laureate

 

Everyone who has visited or dreamed about Italy will delight in the wide-ranging images and experiences captured in Dianalee’s poetry. Her words make me eager to return to Il Bel Pease.

—Ken Tentarelli, award-winning historical fiction author

 

Dianalee Velie is a poet of exceptional vision and creativity.  In Italian Lesson, like a master crafter of Vino Nobile, she picks her poetic grapes, her words, with care and insight, and creates sensual, evocative and multilayer images filled with love and nostalgia not just for Italy, but humanity, nature, earth, in poems that must be savored verse by verse. Che vino perfetto! Cin cin!

—Ala Khaki, poet, author of Return

 

I have never been to Italy, and now I have. These poems have given me this country through lovers’ heightened senses: a wild and synesthetic journey.

—Marie Harris, New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Emerita

 

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While Dianalee Velie was teaching poetry in Italy, she composed these poems to reflect her love of the country and for her cousins in Santa Croce di Camerina, Sicily. Italian Lesson celebrates the sights and sounds of Italy—explorations of the local food & drink, sightseeing expeditions, and the lively spirit of the Italian people as they welcomed and shared their way of life. Come along on her Italian journey and you too will fall in love.

 


EXCERPT

La Commedia Divina de Caffe

~An Ottava Rima

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons
—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

I. Paradisio

Coffee paradise encompasses all of Italy.
The aroma of caffe, rich dark espresso
with perfect freshly pressed froth on top,
is not sipped but chugged from shot glasses
while standing at a bar. Divine words
are not sufficient to describe this pleasure
unless you are ordering a doppio or double.
Then beatific and miraculous reign appropriately.

II. Purgatorio

The Madonna must have invented
the macchiato, the not so pure espresso,
with a dollop of foamed milk
sitting atop like a halo,
or the cappuccino, more mellow
than the macchiato by the addition
of steamed milk. These drinks, as smooth
and gossamer as angel wings, beg forgiveness
from a true coffee connoisseur.

III. Inferno

If you want to commit all the deadly sins
of a coffee addict, sip the decadent Borgia.
This richness of lust and intrigue,
fitting for the family of which it is named,
will tickle your sinful sensibilities.
Wicked whip cream tops a mixture
of espresso and hot chocolate
sprinkled with cinnamon
and slim slivers of orange peel.
Go to hell with the Borgias.
Enjoy Yourself!

 

- a selection from Italian Lesson - published 2021

  • Italian Lesson

    Italian Lesson

    In her newest book, Dianalee Velie provides the reader with a vacation in Italy— the best kind of vacation, stunning beauty enjoyed in the company of the people one loves. Page by page, we are served her sheer pleasure of being alive. We travel with her to northern Italy, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily; along the way, we vicariously sip espresso and grappa, drink wine, or taste olive oil, all served in an impressive array of poetic forms (terza Read More
  • Ever After

    Ever After

    "Dianalee's insider view of the classic fairy tales is both droll and shrewd. The poems deliver the lowdown on the stories and characters we all know. The wry perspectives are unique; these versions make much real-life sense." -Baron Wormser "Anyone who wants to be entertained and amused and enjoys unbridled wit should read the poems found here. Here is this gifted poet's take on well-known fairy tales after these much loved stories end. This collection is filled with A-list fairy Read More
  • The Alchemy of Desire

    The Alchemy of Desire

    "The Alchemy of Desire is an ecstatic collection of poems that literally and metaphorically affirms life and the power to heal and connect with the pulse beating of the world. The poems take you on a journey, from the powerful opening poem "In the Beginning" which ends with the couplet: "It will be my masterpiece, It will be my Genesis./ Everyone will know my name." to the final title poem "The Alchemy of Desire", in which "the power of love/reconstructs Read More
  • Sole Proprietorship: Women in Search of Their Souls

    Sole Proprietorship: Women in Search of Their Souls

    "In her wonderful new collection, Soul Proprietorship, Dianalee Velie presents us with a series of stories about the places and events in life that our souls attend, memories that "...await us in every closet." Velie writes of "...nondenominational angels," "spunky dogs", and then wonders how one can find their soul when life revolves around everyone else. Join her "jumping into the leaves... pushing off in a snow saucer." Soulmate with her as she relates tragic tales on abortion, death and Read More
  • The Many Roads to Paradise

    The Many Roads to Paradise

    "In Dianalee Velie's poem, "Primary Colors," an old man, at home in his life, says "Here I am and I know." The Many Roads to Paradise is the record of a poet's tenacious desire, here and now - by way of a dog or a fireplace log or Louis Armstrong's recorded voice or a blue-collar cafeteria worker or a hermit thrush or a dying friend or a woman who is stoned to death - to 'know where God is hiding,' to 'sense Read More
  • First Edition

    First Edition

    "Velie's First Edition is a brave book, doing what it must do, making art out of enormous tragedy, painting over grief with '(t)he lemon yellow paint, called joyous..." -Maxine Kumin "These poems are filled with life and all its fragile boundaries. They deal with the paralyzing terror and anger that comes with the unexpected violent loss of those we love. This powerful collection concludes ultimately the only way it can, and must, in the freedom of forgiveness." -Kevin Pilkington "Dianalee Read More
  • Glass House

    Glass House

    "Dianalee Velie writes with grace and in poem after poem, her voice possesses a tender agility in order to travel those difficult paths that make us all uniquely human. These poems are brave in their lucidity, generous, sensual and intelligent celebrations of what it means to be in the world. Read this collection, it will enhance your life." -Kevin Pilkington, Poet / Professor   "The poetry of Dianalee Velie stands squarely at one of poetry's most ancient and powerful crossroads - spirit Read More
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