The Place I Call Home by Maria Mazziotti Gillan – A Review

This review will be published in the Spring 2013 issue of VIA (Voices in Italian Americana) magazine.


Though the years, Maria Mazziotti Gillan has painted wonderful pictures of her life via her narrative poems.

In her new book, The Place I Call Home, she gives us  vivid images of the house she grew up in, images of her mother washing clothes and sewing to supplement the family income and making sure that her family was well fed though she never spent money on frivolities like blueberries.

“…remember my mother’s refrigerator

that was always full of homemade food – bread, meatballs,

braciola, spinach, broccoli rabe, but no blueberries,

this small berry I didn’t taste until I was a grown women

and married myself, and I imagine my mother’s horror

at the thought of he spoiled daughter paying $3.95 a pint

for blueberries just because she wants them.”


These are stories of a mother who only went to the 3rd grade in Italy buying her daughter a typewriter so she could be a writer.

But these poems go deeper than nostalgia for one’s family or the difference between an immigrant family and a first generation “American girl.”

There are revealing poems like “Doing the Twist with Bobby Darin” that deal with her shyness about her body and dancing w. someone who thinks a Italian girl is loose and easy.

“my friend’s husband dragged me

out onto the dance floor, expecting

that I would be loose and easy,

imagining that all my energy

would translate into an abandon I never felt…….

……….. I understood

that he thought my Italian bloo

 meant I was hot like Sophia Loren

or Anna Magnani.”


There are poems that strike at our hearts  and make us sigh sadly when she talks about her husband having Parkinson’s and not being in the same bedroom with him, of Dennis getting to the point where he will not know her.


There are angry poems about her ex son-in-law who hurt her daughter badly when they divorced.


This book will make you laugh and cry and every emotion in between; buy it!



Posted on January 12, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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