THE POET – Interview with Lidia Chiarelli

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An interview with Lidia Chiarelli
By Dr. Ana Stjelja

Thank you for taking time out to chat to THE POET Lidia. You are an award-winning Italian poet and an artist, whose work has been translated into many languages and published worldwide. Did you first start writing poetry, or making art?

I started writing poetry. My first encounter with poetry dates back to the ’70s when I went to London to attend 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. This was my first “poetic” step. Several years later, as a school teacher, I led Creative Writing courses, and I got in touch with Sarah Jackson (Canadian digital artist) and with poet Aeronwy Thomas, Dylan Thomas’ daughter. Thanks to their suggestions I learnt how Poetry and Art can interact and enhance each other. Today, poetry and art have the same importance for me, they are on the same level. I often look for inspiration in the images of fine art photos, or of paintings created by my artist friends or vice-versa: sometimes the words of poets lead me to transfer on digital collages or canvas the emotions they have called forth in me …

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How would you describe the connection between your art and poetry?

I must say that the words spoken by Aeronwy Thomas during our meeting in Torino were highly enlightening to me: “Artists and poets can experience moments of cross-fertilization.”

Since then a new horizon has opened up in my creative path and I have understood how each of my poems, once it was joined to visual art, could become a new work changed and magnified by the union. An essayist and literary critic said that through my digital artworks I bring poems to life. And this is exactly my target.

What inspires you the most as a poet?

“Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity” – this sentence by William Wordsworth is the key that prompts me to write poems. My poems used to be 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. In more recent years however, according to the process already mentioned, are some works of art to convey an emotion that I try to rework into words. On a purely aesthetic level I think that what is generally known as ‘ekphrastic poetry’ has conveyed an incentive to the development of “beauty”. In these dark and difficult days we have sometimes heard repeat the words that Fyodor Dostoevsky attributes to Prince Myškin: Beauty will save the world. I would like to take this sentence as a message; as a motto for those who work on behalf of Art and Poetry, or simply approach them.

Besides being a poet and artist, you are also an editor and one of the members of the art literary movement called Immagine & Poesia founded in Turin. Tell us more about it.

Immagine & Poesia is a dream come true. In 2006 I planned with Aeronwy Thomas, artist Gianpiero Actis and a few other, the enthusiastic project of founding an art-literary Movement, and one year later we had a Manifesto and the official launch of Immagine & Poesia at Teatro Alfa in Torino. In the 10 points of the Manifesto, we stated that the union of art and poetry could origin something new, altered, greater than the parts. Within a few years the Movement rapidly spread via the web where collaborations between artists and poets are published, as well as through international exhibitions. Today the Movement includes hundreds of poets and artists from all over the world. I would like to point out that 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.  This is what we all need nowadays: people have to learn how to be more tolerant and mutually appreciative.

To date, with the help of Canadian editor-poet-artist Huguette Bertrand, an anthology has been published annually for eight years. The poet-editor of the Beat Generation Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whom I met in San Francisco in 2013, had words of appreciation for the project we were carrying on, and he sent his poems for our ebook from 2016 to 2020.

It is also worth mentioning that you are engaged in keeping the legacy of the well-known Welsh poet Dylan Thomas alive. Tell us a bit more about that significant project.

May 14 was established in 2015 as the International Dylan Thomas Day. Hannah Ellis, Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter says: “International Dylan Thomas Day gives us a chance each year to celebrate Dylan Thomas’s achievements … Dylan Thomas’s writing has travelled through time – it is as relevant today in our troubled times as when it was written sixty-five years ago. It continues to travel across the globe reaching new audiences every day. His poetry lives on … ” Since its inception we have celebrated #DylanDay in Torino every year with conferences, art exhibitions or meetings on-line. In these years of the pandemic, I have created two websites where poets, artists and song-writers celebrate the visionary Welsh poet through different channels. And in 2021 for the first time, I succeeded in involving poets and artists from China, Mexico and South America.

As an Italian, what language of culture and poetry do you feel closer to?

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I studied and graduated in English language and literature, which is why I feel closer to English or American poets. 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. However, as for Italian writers, recently – through a re-reading of their works – I have got closer to the poetic thoughts of two poets of the twentieth century: Antonia Pozzi and Alda Merini.

In your opinion, how will poetry position itself in the modern time? How do you see poetry in the future?

I think that the poetry of modern times has evolved and has its own characteristics. Social media can enhance poetry and create new means of expression. Instagram Poetry has recently risen as a new literary genre. American writer Jamal Cadoura has been posting poetry on Instagram since 2015, and nowadays many others follow his path becoming Instapoets. These types of poems are short, with a simple language and they are more visual than traditional poems. Similarly, dozens of poetry groups have sprung up on socials such as Facebook and Twitter: here poets and their audiences can meet and confront with the existential questions of our uncertain times.

And lastly, please tell us a little about your forthcoming literary and art projects.

The annual publication of Immagine & Poesia ebook and the celebration of #DylanDay remain the two “pillars” of my activity. Many artists and poets have written to me to let me know they are interested in participating with their works in these projects. I am also the curator of the Foreign Authors section of the Poetry Competition “Il Meleto di Guido Gozzano”: another great opportunity to meet the poetical works of authors from different countries of the five continents. And, in the meantime, my activity of publishing collaborations between artists and poets goes on through different Immagine & Poesia blogs in English, French and Italian.

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In my Autumn garden I was fain

To mourn among my scattered roses

Christina Rossetti

Colours and sounds

mix in the October garden

where dying roses feed your soul.

Amber brown leaves waltz on the boughs

as you, Queen of Pre-Raphaelite beauty

discover wonder in

Autumn’s languid sun

of this ephemeral reign.

And in the dappled light

your words become

a subtle song

a hymn of devotion

to the fugitive hour

to the vanishing moment.


A slash of Blue! A sweep of Gray!

Some scarlet patches – on the way –

Compose an evening sky . . .

Emily Dickinson

So sweet was

the scent of those evenings


our steps invented long distance routes

in the summer gardens


slowly the lights were lit

and competing with the moons and the stars

formed parabolas of light

on the opaque stones of the paths.

Then, life

just begun

seemed to reveal

– just for us –

a sky of unreal colours.

Countless images

(fragments of old memories)



recreate and break

in the weary kaleidoscope

of the mind.

Poem in memory of my father Guido Chiarelli, head engineer for the lighting projects in Torino 1956 – 1968.  Wikipedia: @Guido_Chiarelli

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I am sister to the rain

Dorothy Parker

The sky

is a tattered blanket.

The cliff’s edge

heralds rain

howling winds

blow all their fury

I wander

through the iridescent paths

while farther up

uncaring clouds

veil the stars.

I breathe deeply

April’s cold solitude

drawing this rainy night

towards me


(to Dylan Thomas)

Your words

as parables of sunlight

unveil visions with blurred edges

new worlds melting

into fluctuating immensity.

Into your swirling darkness

I fall.

Lift me with wide wings

higher and higher into the blue.

Bring me to know the vibrations of the sun

where blades of fire evaporate

where I can finally savour

the emerald kiss

and the indigo breath

in the rainbow’s evanescent embrace.

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Lidia Chiarelli is one of the Charter Members of Immagine & Poesia, the art literary Movement founded in Torino (Italy) in 2007 with Aeronwy Thomas. She has become an award-winning poet since 2011, and she was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from The First International Poetry Festival of Swansea (UK) for her broadside poetry and art contribution. She has six has Pushcart Prize (USA) nominations, and was awarded with the Literary Arts Medal in New York (2020). In 2014 she started an inter-cultural project with Canadian writer and editor Huguette Bertrand publishing e-Books of poetry and art. Her writing has been translated into different languages and published in more than 150 poetry magazines, journals and websites worldwide.




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