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Daniela Gioseffi

1941–

Daniela Gioseffi was born on February 12, 1941, in Orange, New Jersey. The child of Italian immigrants, she received a BA from Montclair State University in 1963 and an MFA from the Catholic University of America in 1973. With a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts, she created the first Brooklyn Bridge Poetry Walk in 1971.

In 1979 Gioseffi published her first poetry collection, Eggs in the Lake (BOA Editions). She is the author of several additional books of poetry, including Blood Autumn/Autumno Di Sangue: Poems New and Selected (Bordighera Press, 2006), Going On: Poems (Bordighera Press, 2000), and Word Wounds and Water Flowers (Bordighera Press, 1995).

In addition to writing poetry, Gioseffi has also edited a number of collections, including Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present (Simon & Schuster, 1988), which received an American Book Award and was reissued by The Feminist Press in 2003. She has also published several works of prose, including In Bed with the Exotic Enemy: Stories and Novella (Avisson Press, 1997) and The Great American Belly Dance (Doubleday, 1977), a novel.

In 2007, she received the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. Known for her work as an educator and environmental activist, she has taught and organized many environmental readings and seminars, and she was a charter poet in the Poets-in-the-Schools program. She currently serves as the editor of Eco-Poetry.org and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Blood Autumn (Bordighera Press, 2006)
Going On: Poems (Bordighera Press, 2000)
Word Wounds and Water Flowers (Bordighera Press, 1995)
Eggs in the Lake (BOA Editions, 1979)

Prose
In Bed with the Exotic Enemy: Stories and Novella (Avisson Press, 1997)
The Great American Belly Dance (Doubleday, 1977)

By This Poet

2

Some Slippery Afternoon

A silver watch you've worn for years
is suddenly gone
leaving a pale white stripe
blazing on your wrist.

A calendar marked with all
the appointments you meant to keep
disappears
leaving a faded spot on the wall
where it hung.
You search the house, yard, trash cans
for weeks
but never find it.

One night the glass in your windows
vanishes
leaving you sitting in a gust of wind.

You think how a leg is suddenly lost
beneath a subway train
or a taxi wheel
some slippery afternoon.

The child you've raised for years,
combing each lock,
tailoring each smile, each tear,
each valuable thought,
suddenly changes to a harlequin,
joins the circus passing in the street,
never to be seen again.

One morning you wash your face,
look into the mirror,
find the water has eroded your features,
worn them smooth as a rock in a brook.
A blank oval peers back at you
too mouthless to cry out.

Beyond the East Gate

I listen to the voice of the cricket,
loud in the quiet night,
warning me
not to mistake a hill for a mountain.

I need to be alone,
in a private house with doors that open only outward,
safe from strangers who smell of death,
where I can draft a universe under my eyelids
and let nothing invade it.

I want to sing a fugue
sounding like the genius of flowers
talking to leaves on their stems,
to have more concrete meaning
than even the dance of a child in my uterus.
I'm a lost and primitive priestess
wandering in a walled city of the wrong century.
I need to spend thirty years in the desert
before I will understand the sun,
thirty years at sea
to gather the blessing of salt and water.

In the back room of my skull
a secret dice game determines
the rites of my hands
before they touch flesh again.
I want to reach a peace I've never known,
to be an old woman who is very young,
a child who is a sage
come down from the mountain.