Ghost Garden, Donna Pucciani’s seventh collection of poetry, explores the search for her Italian roots. Unlike her full-length collections, this compact pamphlet is elegantly concise in its concentration on a particular subject: the Pucciani family tree.
The book traces the family of the author’s paternal grandfather, Carlo Pucciani, in three sections: “Searching,” “Finding” and “Remembering.” The arc of research and discovery, personal encounter, and the inevitable nostalgia of diaspora and separation, is told in both the straight line of chronological detail and the emotional spiral of personal experience.
The Pucciani family hails from the small hilltop village of San Donato di Ninea, the ancestral home for many generations. Located on the ‘buckle’ of the boot of Italy, in the southern Italian province of Calabria, San Donato is the birthplace not only of the family “ghosts” but also of cousins living in Italy today whom the author found and met personally in the process of her genealogical research.
The “ghost garden” comprises poems on the author’s grandfather, the only one of sixteen brothers and sisters to emigrate to the United States through Ellis Island in 1903, vast numbers of cousins who remained in Italy and whose progeny now live in Milan, Bergamo, Cosenza, Paola and Florence, and distant relatives whose ancestors came over to settle in Akron, Pittsburgh, upstate New York, and even further afield, in Buenos Aires.
Pucciani’s writing brims with colorful imagery, startling metaphor, and precise diction that, along with photos of the village and the family elders, combine to render a special sense of place. Those who have read memoirs and prose renderings of the Ellis Island experience and the search for family in the old country, particularly in Italy and Ireland, will especially enjoy this unique poetic presentation of history and mythology.
(GHOST GARDEN can be ordered by arrangement with the author. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $10.00 plus postage.)