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Introducing
Galestro
by Bruce Hunter

Bruce Hunter's 10th book, from Italy 

Galestro (2023)

Galestro, a new release from Bruce Hunter
"[A]n important book by an extraordinary writer in the top tier of contemporary Canadian poets." - Marsha Barber, author of Kaddish for My Mother.

"This captivating collection of poems takes readers on a journey through the human experience, exploring themes of love, loss, and the passage of time with stunning imagery and masterful language." - PugliaLive - Online Regional Information Newspaper

IN THE MEDIA

Discover the latest release from poet and author Bruce Hunter - Galestro

This stunning collection of poetry takes readers on a journey through the beauty and complexity of life through vivid imagery and lyrical language. The book takes its name from a sandy, mineral-rich soil found in the Chianti vineyards of Tuscany, which gives the region's wines a unique flavor. In Bruce's own words, "Galestro is the essence, the grain of life." Bruce's new release, published in Italy by I Quaderni del Bardo Edizioni, is an ode to the essence of life itself. 

Attention all poetry enthusiasts! The highly esteemed Canadian poet, Bruce Hunter, has just released his latest work, Galestro, and it's a must-read. This captivating collection of poems takes readers on a journey through the human experience, exploring themes of love, loss, and the passage of time with stunning imagery and masterful language. Inspired by the unique Galestro soil of Tuscany, where Hunter spends much of his time, Galestro is a poetic masterpiece that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Visit PugliaLive to learn more about this latest release from one of Canada's most accomplished poets and discover the magic of Galestro for yourself.

Galestro is a collection of poems that explores the beauty and complexity of life through vivid imagery and lyrical language. It touches on themes of love, loss, aging, and the natural world, inviting readers on a journey through the Italian landscape and beyond.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM

“In this, his tenth book, award-winning writer Bruce Hunter is in his prime, creating poetry that’s bold, sensuous and rich as the Italian soil he extols… Quite simply, this is an important book by an extraordinary writer in the top tier of contemporary Canadian poets.” - Marsha Barber, Toronto-based poet, professor, and author of Kaddish for My Mother.

"GALESTRO is a wonderful book. I loved every page. The poems here are the work of an extremely fine wordsmith, a very genuine lyrical imagination. More, they're passionate and clear and utter with great strength and care what it means to be human. I can't recommend this collection enough." - Russell Thornton, Canadian Poet.

“His poems are tributes to the environment of being and are deeply human… His observational detail is unparalleled as he speaks to aging, love, culture, the earth, and mostly the real beating heart at the centre of it all.” - Dr. Micheline Maylor-Kovitz, Calgary-based poet, professor, and author of The Bad Wife.

"Approaching Bruce Hunter’s poems is like listening to the warm, rich voice of a sincere friend. The guy who has been through a lot in life and who by virtue of this great experience and humanity is able to find the right word, the wise motto, the image that surprises and heartens. A poetry in many respects therapeutic, empathic... There is above all a lot of Italy, right from the title, which recalls the substance of the rock and the fragrant scents of wine. A hymn to our country, to its art, to the beauty of the landscapes and people, to the taste of the fruits of the earth. And it is here, in Italy, between Tuscany and Salento, that we welcome Bruce and offer him our best hospitality through translation, hoping to render him a good service as he generously renders it to us readers and interpreters.” - Andrea Sirotti, Florence-based teacher, writer, editor and translator of Galestro.

"Bruce Hunter shows in Galestro how in sad moments, we seek out sacred places; what we have forgotten, and what we learned from the elders. To discover with surprise that we are already the ingredients of these sacred places, the lands that permeate us, our stellar origins. And the arc and tension between these two realities are pacified and fulfilled when in our dreams we visit the highest point between earth and the sky, so we can drink from the clouds. I love this book. Powerful, full of places and jumps in time and memories. With a lot of Italy and a lot of Canada. And all my memories seem to match so much with his. I am proud and thankful to have helped with some of these translations." - Sandro Pecchiari Trieste-based poet, anthologist, author of Alle spalle delle cose.

“The poems in Bruce Hunter’s Galestro remind us that we live in the space where opposites meet and connect, between earth and sky, youth and age, ancient stories and present plagues, first rain and poisoned waters, the living and the dead. He explores the timeless questions, like boyhood, married love, and the meaning of an individual life by evoking the essence of the terroir of his places of the heart: Alberta, Tuscany, and the Orkney islands. And fittingly, each poem in this beautiful and wise book faces (and is doubled) by Andrea Sirotti’s skilled Italian translation.” - Caterina Edwards, Edmonton-based novelist, author of The Sicilian Wife.

REVIEWS

“This new collection of poetry by Bruce Hunter has been published in Italy, with Italian translations by Andrea Sirotti. It will no doubt introduce the award-winning Canadian poet to a broader international readership. Galestro is a fine collection of some of my favourite Bruce Hunter poems, including "Two O'Clock Creek," as well as moving and evocative newer works. Hunter has long held a passion for the richness of history -- the places like British Columbia's high Chilcotin desert and people ranging from Scottish grandmothers to Blackfoot / Kainai elders. In the newer works here, Hunter explores the layers of myth and meaning in Italy - cart tracks, stacks of olive wood - discovering "a place I've never been but always known."

Galestro is published in a handsome large format (8 x 10"), with English poems and Italian translation on facing pages. Hunter has long been an advocate for accessibility in publishing, and these clean, spacious pages make this an inviting read. The inclusion of extensive notes to the poems should be especially helpful to Italian readers, who might not be familiar with some of the Canadian cultural and historical references.

These are warm, inviting, thoughtful poems. Savour them as you would a lovingly prepared meal on a warm cobblestone Italian piazza, with a glass of Chianti.” - Lorne Daniel, Goodreads, April, 2023.

L’Ottavo recensione di Donato Di Poce
By Donato Di Poce

When one thinks of contemporary Canadian poetry, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Mark Strand immediately come to mind. With this second publication in Italy, "Galestro" Translation by Andrea Sirotti, we must rightfully add Bruce Hunter.

 

His poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in over 80 international blogs, magazines and anthologies in Italy, Canada, China, India, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States. Bruce is the author of six books of poetry.

Born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1952, Bruce was deafened as an infant and suffered from low vision for much of his adult life. He grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Ogden, in the shadow of Esso's Imperial Oil Refinery and the now-decommissioned Canadian Pacific Railway's (C.P.R.) Ogden Shops. In early adolescence, Bruce discovered poetry as a compass to navigate in a chaotic world like that of hearing. In poetry he could hear everything – and be heard.

Known in Italy for his publications in the Internopoesia.com magazine (17/10/2022) and the publication last year again for the Lecce publisher, I Quaderni del Bardo “A Life in Poetry, Poems selected from Two O'clock Creek , QdB, Lecce, 2022.”

As the author himself forewarns us, in his foreword to the book, “Galestro (ɡaˈlɛ.stro) is a sandy soil, rich in minerals, found in the Chianti vineyards in Tuscany, which gives the wines of the region a unique flavour. Star matter." And Galestro is precisely the title of the book we are talking about.

A book that teaches us first of all the ability to listen to the world and the essence of things and then the importance of poetry for man. Bruce gives us micro-stories in verse of his life and his verses become "Hooks for the sky", the title of his poem of which I transcribe the incipit:

Hooks for the sky
And now, mid-week,mid-life,
with my brothers and their children
at the foot of the hills in our hometown.
With our brilliant sky hooks ‒ a name
really appropriate for these kites:
a sky full of flying noise
in the scornful wind
on the Rockies ‒ a red box,
a flying blue carp and warrior dragon tails.

Each of them goes fishing for light,
linked by thread between existence and dream
fishing for celestial fish or wandering angels
lost in the lure of the clouds…”

Bruce is a poet and a man always connected to the smallest vibrations of life and to the cosmic roads that connect us to it, and he warns us in one of his poems:


“Here, in this fabulous street
west of hipster, south of money,
I am never alone. Deaf man
but not silenced, always connected.

There is no shortage of touching and visionary verses as in the poem dedicated to the painter Georgia O'Keeffe:


White Rose, Abstraction (1927) Georgia O'Keeffe


I have never forgotten the rose
in that art gallery years ago.
Blooms voluminous and inviting.
Painted by a brush dipped in clouds. Velvet entrance
and escapism. As big as a table top.
O'Keeffe sees as I see. And as I do in my work,
I open my palms
to cradle her. Until a guard warns me.
Gentleman. Please. Don't touch the paintings.
For a gardener, a rose is not
a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.*
It is all in all. A tidal curl.…”

Bruce loves Italy very much and in a beautiful poem entitled "There is a road" where you can enjoy the rolling hills of Tuscany, he reveals the metaphor of poetry as a road:


“…On the road from everywhere to everywhere,
as Fabio the poet says.
I have always traveled in my dreams.
And dreams where I can see and hear everything.
The road that always goes home, wherever I am.…”.

And the road returns in the other poem that gives the book its title:


“Galestro
This spring in Tuscany
on the dirt roads,
on that white road we travel on
a country lane, next to a stone wall.…”


It's still:

 

“Historical places that I have wanted to visit all my life.
The Romans kept their wine in caves
and the Etruscans too, their ruined tombs behind us.
The ancient is recent here and around us.”


Bruce tells us with his verses that life is like the earth, matter of love, listening…

Donato Di Poce was born in Sora in 1958 but has lived in Milan since 1982. He is a poet, art critic, writer of aphorisms and photographer. Public attention comes with remarkable interest with the publication of the beautiful Berlin Notebook, a collection of five portfolios. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, curator of art exhibitions. An artist at 360°. His last, in order of time, poetic work is Lampi di Verità, published by iQdB editions of Stefano Donno, in the series edited by the poet and literary critic Nicola Vacca.

From Spagin (Lecce, Italy). Translated from the Italian.
By Marcello Buttazzo

Bruce Hunter is a great Canadian poet and writer. In 2022 his book A Life in Poetry (based on his Two O’clock Creek - poems new and selected) was published in Italy. Bruce was deafened as a child and suffered from low vision for much of his adult life. He grew up in Calgary, in working-class Ogden, in the shadow of Esso's Imperial Oil refinery. After high school, he worked as a laborer, equipment operator, Zamboni driver, gardener, and arborist.
 
In his late twenties, his poems earned him a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. His poetry, fiction and creative essays have appeared in over 80 international blogs, magazines and anthologies in Italy, Canada, China, India, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States. Among the various awards we remember, in 2010, the Acorn – Plantos Peoples’ Poetry Award for Canada. Bruce Hunter is a life member of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (C.H.H.A.) and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (C.N.I.B.). Recently, in February 2023, a book of his verses entitled Galestro was released for the Quaderno del Bardo editions.
 
The title of the volume is emblematic. Galestro is a sandy soil, rich in minerals, found in the Chianti vineyards in Tuscany, where Bruce Hunter made a meditative journey. We humans are children of the stars. We are products of the collapsing stars; we are made of their stuff. As Carl Sagan writes, “the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were produced inside collapsing stars.”
 
The Blackfoot elder, Narcisse Blood is lovingly described by Hunter in his verse. We are the Star People, the sage Blackfoot elders say. They know that wine, clouds and atoms come from stellar particles. Star particles older than love. At night, outside the Star Peoples’ tents the horses neigh and the moon goes down.

The poet is a great soul. Galestro is dedicated to Lisa, his love, his star, and to their children, and grandchildren. At the opening of the book, there are some verses dedicated to Bruce by Fabio Strinati, Italian musician, and poet, who sketches with sensitivity, trees, fruit, rain, orchards in love, the beauty of Nature.
 
Scrolling through the verses of Galestro, one remains enchanted and favorably impressed by the magical description of the landscapes. We are struck by Hunter's attachment to Mother Earth, a primordial, childlike bond that brings an astonishing wonder. Hunter is a globe-trotting poet; nevertheless, with roots that are permanent, and intimately anchored to its land. Only those who are bound and viscerally close in a fraternal embrace to their native places can also uproot themselves if necessary and begin a loving journey towards other lands.
 
Galestro is a poetic journey through coveted, unharmed places. Hunter's style is conversational and familiar; his gait sometimes giving way to a more prosaic register. However, it is always great poetry. Which we could define as "anthropological poetry", full of history, of stories, of biology of human populations. The references to the myths are continuous. Galestro comes alive with a varied and very rich humanity. The sax man, while the trams mutter, is bent over a folding chair. He attacks a velvety “Take Five”. There is a humanity, in this book, teeming with beauty, like the uncle made deaf by a war time bomb.

 

And the road is the teacher of life. Here we meet Katie, a street person; a man with a steel hook for a hand, who pierces an apple to give it to his girlfriend. Jimmy and his buddy Roberto race in electric wheelchairs along opposite sides of the road. Gibson the blind man peddles sunglasses and waves to all the girls, shouting: “Baby, you are so beautiful I can smell it”. The homage of the poet to the Scottish grandmothers is moving. Their little houses smell of broth and camphor. Hunter's naturalistic culture is marked, meditated, practiced in the field. And in the verses it takes on a lyrical guise. The poet recalls the river and the beaver dam where he fished in Lynnwood in Ogden. Here, the house where his sister lived has been bulldozed; the vast albino prairie has disappeared, even the swamp, even their plants.
 
Four blocks from his childhood school sits the Esso refinery. Unfortunately, the anthropic and destructive hand of modern man does not take much care of the adamantine purity of Nature. In the verses, Hunter recalls his apprenticeship as a journeyman. He went in search of the mythical tool: the skyhook . To a Jewish woman he dedicates sensual words: In the sweet summer heat; the Ashkenazi girl squats on her tanned thighs in the soft garden soil, eats tomatoes stained by the night's rain, catching droplets with her tongue.
 
As we have already written, Hunter dedicates a wonderful poem to the memory of Narcisse Blood, also known as Middle Bull, elder of the Blackfoot/Kainai. The Star People really know about rain, about light, about the beginning of water, about love. The second part of Galestro is an uninterrupted song, especially dedicated to Tuscany. At the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, a lonely old man with rheumy eyes bows to Donatello's David. An amazed old man looks at the David. A beautiful young woman on a bicycle appears on the banks of the Arno. She looks like Ornella Muti. In the taverna, we meet the innkeeper Alice. The winemaker Francesco knows how to mediate rain and wine, alchemy and prayer. Cloud catchers capture the fog. And even above the villages of the Cinque Terre, Nature soars with its reddish love poppies (“Ligurian poppies shine like lights over the sea / they do not warn, they do not greet with their red goodbye”). “
 

Galestro is a collection of poems that opens up scenarios of the imagination. Bruce Hunter believes he travels in his dreams. "And the dreams in which I can see and hear everything./The road that always goes home, wherever I am." The dream is an existential and vital stratagem, necessary, indispensable, to make this ordinary and effective reality less harsh, less ruthless, still livable.

Marcello Buttazzo was born in Lecce and lives in Lequile, in the heart of the Valle della Cupa Salento. He studied Biology with population studies at the University "La Sapienza" of Rome. He has published numerous works, mostly poetry. He writes in prose for Spagine on current events. His publications include “And the dawn?" (Manni Editori), "Origami of words" (Pensa Editore), "Between the folds of red” (I Quaderni del Bardo Edizioni). His latest collection is "If I'll see you in yellow" (I quaderni del Bardo Edizioni, April 2023 ).

Il pensiero Mediterraneo. Mediterranean Thoughts 

By Annelisa Addolorato

The Canadian poet travels through places of his memory, of his European (Nordic) origins and, by contrast, also Italian places, with a gaze that lingers on the description of various Roman remains present in Italy and then indulges in the Chianti area, home of wine dear to him - and which has to do with the apparently alchemical title of the book, which rather refers to technical issues connected to viticulture, more specifically, to the term given to a particular soil, rich in minerals, which favors the viticulture of Chianti – and all of Tuscany. To make this text captivating for an Italian audience, there is undoubtedly the gaze of a sensitive English-speaking writer on our country, filtered by an iridescent brightness, in and of the verse, also due to the latitudes of its origins. As an exergue, we find a cipher of the text, a quotation from Cosmos (by Carl Sagan), which reminds us of our microcosmic, so to speak, kinship with the macrocosm, and our nature of 'stardust'.
 

A land both prosaic and sacred, a source of love in the form of vines, branches, bunches, is described and traveled by him, by his wife, while travelling. And also, very much in line with an alas too current description, there is a clear nod to drought, which makes the job so well described even more difficult, of those who turn grapes into wine.
“… something between alchemy and prayer”
(p. 79)


And the poet asks rhetorically, mindful of classical mythological etymologies, linked to wine culture:
“Sangiovese, the blood of Jupiter?”
(ibi.)


His enthusiasm in the Italian journey is evident, like the appreciation of being in a territory so different from his own origin, which is often compared, remembered, quoted:
“Historical places that I have wanted to visit all my life.


The Romans kept their wine in caves and the Etruscans too, their tombs in ruins behind us. The ancient is recent here and around us”
(p. 81)


“Let's be careful not to crush them,” says Francesco before chewing. “Rip the skin and spoil the wine. A few more days and it will be ready”, he turns to his Jeep. And the thirsty leaves chase him. The shale crackles under my feet. Or maybe it's the debris of an ancient river.


(…) Sensitiivi, the plural of souls who find water, make wine and poetry. Sensitiva, the woman who teaches the heart, who reads my eyes, who calms the animals, heals the loved ones. So many here, in this passionate country reaching for a deep river that flows through it.”
(p. 81)

Perhaps as a trace of mystical readings (even oriental, now topical) wine and poetry are associated by similarity.


“Ligurian poppies High above the ancient Roman roads, the rock climbers, suspended towards the sea, red buoys have been greeting fishermen for centuries. Above the five villages of the Cinque Terre, the cultivated terraces in the limestone Apennines and the short trains shunted from Rapallo. The Italian Riviera, say the guides, with palm trees in the region of pesto and Pigato. Hello, goodbye, the tunnels between the mountains flash, in the dark, then light. We go down to Riomaggiore, but the via dell'Amore is closed due to a landslide. So we take the train to Monterosso al Mare. near the Ligurian Sea there is a battered Neptune, the Giant, once the target of German fighters. The war is too recent and real here."
(p.87)


Ancient and more recent history intersect and face each other.


“Here, in historic Cortona, mother of Troia, grandmother of Rome, in the province of Arezzo in the Tuscany region. Spring warmth rises from Lake Trasimeno from fields of wheat and ripening sunflowers. On a dusty hill, the ancient walled Etruscan city tells the legend of Dardano, the heroic son of Jupiter and Electra, who once lost his helmet in battle in the Val di Chiana, I too have lost a hat or two. More than once, my wife reminds me of it, as we walk through the doors that open onto the narrow cobbled streets of Cortona (…).”


“As the great Latin poet Virgil tells us,
(p. 91)


the Oracle advised Dardano to build walls and turrets to protect his helmet as it once did, (…) Next door is the Technical School, I observe. Only on second listen. Frivolous laughter among the school desks. Sounds that come sweet in every language. The midday sun already hot at the open windows of the school I turn to my wife, their laughter will be missed.”
(p. 93)


“In Canada they call me the settler, the European. There are many names here.”
The identity of the poet, his origins and his memories remain as the background of this Italian natural landscape, entirely Mediterranean, in the foreground, and Canadian and then Scottish, immediately behind, seen in transparency, sculpted with the sound of verses.
(p. 99)
 

“You know what the name Scotland means, I told him. Irish Celts, doctor. We are all Celts. And Pitti. Fur-wearing longhouse dwellers, named by the Romans for their painted faces. (…) The nearest village Watten, Viking word for water. My bloodline is a muddy tributary. (…) Who are we, someone asks. Who knows, replies another. I wonder if it matters. The longer I stay here, the names that are dear to us are lost and dispersed. Here the ancient past is yesterday. The Great War a minute ago”.
(p. 101)


The poet, aware of the shadows of living, always finds a luminous hinge in human and natural nature, which in conscious growth resists undeterred and emanates beauty, as we read in the verse that shines from the book:


“I know there is a will in the trees and in us to reach for the light.”
(p. 105)


If the poet's personal history is marked by redemption, great human dignity and constant dedication, his poetry is soft and, even if it often touches on painful themes, it finds in the re-enactment of music - often American, with warm notes of Jazz and Blues, with hints and musical tastes similar to those present in the book by the American Maria Bennett Because You Love – or landscapes, often Italian, with Tuscany and even Liguria in evidence, a suspended dimension that allows you to experience and amplify the joy of the moment and of the memory.


(I edition, i Quaderni del Bardo editore, Lecce 2023, now in reprint; Italian translation by A. Sirotti).

 

Annelisa Addolorato is an Italian writer, who was born in Lodi, Italy. Having grown up living in both Italy and Spain, she writes both in Italian and Spanish. My Voice Seeks You: The Selected Poems of Annelisa Addolorato (2013) was translated by Maria Bennett and Bill Wolak.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author is grateful to the editors of these presses and journals in which the poems first appeared in their earlier incarnations: 

In Canada, Canadian Poetries, Caitlin Press, Freefall, Juniper, Thistledown Press, Oolichan Books; in the U.S., Sleepycat Press; in the U.K. Lotharian Poetry Journal; in Italy, El Ghibli, iQdB edizoni, Interno Poesia, Laboratori Poesia, Quanto Basta.


Much gratitude for the skilled and beautiful translations of Angela Caputo, Angela D’Ambra, Roberto Palitti, Sandro Pecchiari, and Andrea Sirotti, who all helped give these poems life in Italy. Much gratitude to Roberta Niccacci of Deruta, Perugia, Italy, for her charming sharing of the mythical story of Cortona. And from the bottom of my mended heart, deep gratitude to my friends and family in Canada, Italy and elsewhere for their generosity and support of what writers do. And by no means least, I thank the inimitable Crystal Mackenzie and Dr. Micheline Maylor-Kovitz, intrepid listeners to everything I suggest.

Fabio Strinati (born 1983, San Saverino, Marche, Italy) is a composer, musician and poet. I’m deeply honoured by his poem and his permission to share it here.

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