In his debut collection of poems entitled Renderer of Words, Mauro Cappa has gathered together an eclectic summary of philosophical ponderings. Each poem is a glittering glimpse of meaning on the multifaceted surface of reality, as filtered through the poet's emotional landscape. Through the thread of each poem we are taken on a sometimes whimsical, yet often barren journey of the paradoxical realities of existence. In Winter the Canadian lore of hockey and merciless competitive spirit is explored along with the season's bone chilling sense of alienation. Out of this harshness some hope is gleaned in Winning Team's redemptive message of relationship and team effort.
In No! Banana! the power of rhyming whimsy takes us on a happier journey. So too the swaying branches of trees, those orchestral insomniacs, grace us with musical nights. Night is not only musical however. It harbours paranoia, the alert sleeplessness of the poet versus the shallow superficiality of most people, aptly described in Sleep Deprivation. There is much work to be done to save the world and humanity. This is no task for the faint hearted as we see in The Green Guru, where our planet faces irreversible consequences brought about by environmental irresponsibility. So too in Yellow Hills the decay of stained teeth and the decrepit fall of our world into environmental disaster is succinctly summed up with our impotence at finding a true solution with the truism that so many words can't save us.
Evil in The Path is darkness, which creeps up from beneath us. It is the unknown, confusion and the void. In our endless life journey, the only redemption is the reception of holiness in the presence of relationship with another human being. In Two Faced, the poet delves into the heartbreak of love, the often hidden hypocrisy which belies human relationships. True love is the only lasting essence however, as The Old Man's Tale illustrates. So too in Moonlight, love is man's ultimate destination.
The unanswered questions we ask daily are so well explained in The Dilemma, where the futility of our lives is displayed in the smallest details of existence, as the enigma of birth, life and death forever elude us. One day roams into the next, as Sunday ends and a new week begins, in Sunday Sundown. The poet warns us to Sleep off the lies… but drink your desires and indulge in your dreams. The inner aching truth is hidden by the addiction to reverie. We do not control life or time. Life goes on as the worms feast in spite of death and tragic love endings. In People, willows weep for man's shameless behaviour; the lessons never learned, and so the trees die.
Humanity's lack of conscience is explored as the cause of nature's unraveling in The Dodo Birds Arise. Fearful to look upon a filthy face, unwilling to acknowledge someone else's unrelenting pain, mankind marches on forward, with old clichés for perpetrating hate and war. The question of how we can continue on with such madness is pondered in The Flag, as questions of Stalin's ideologies of Marxism and subsequent bloodshed can be understood. "How can one explain the patriotic hearts that should be filled with pain, but sing with praise of Marx?" In The Earth we are left with the paradox of all the unexplained horror with the hopeful message that "The world still holds blood and gore," but only God holds all the answers, unbeknownst to us.
In the existential landscape we inhabit, the snake eats the mouse as a matter of consequence. The law of nature dictates that predators eat prey, but in The Snake and the Mouse, the successful vindication of the mouse towards the snake's psychopathic callousness is a happy reminder that sometimes the victim does avenge his position by having an effect on the victimizer. Yes, life can be a treacherous jungle, but the poet's eye can redeem some joy out of the chaos. The Camera captures images, but not necessarily the meanings. It is up to us to interpret the depth of what we are shown. So too our heart, if not romanticized as the title Le Coeur would suggest, is just a blood pump. It expands and contracts. It keeps us alive. It loves us. With poetry we discover that the Dominican Day blue globe of sky becomes the poet's own Sistine Chapel ceiling; the sandy beaches, Caribbean gold. So too, waiting for a missed bus can spawn a poetic reverie in Dreamy Bus Stop. Nature then is the redeemer of hope. In Wonder, it brings the poet to his knees. The moon is not really made of cheese, as children would have it, but in To the Moon and Back Again, and in Aged Moon, all the metaphors for the moon are explored reminding us of Joni Mitchell's words: I've looked at love from both sides now... but I really don't know love at all.
What we are left with after reading this deeply inspiring collection of poetry is the irrefutable fact that life is replete with arbitrary pain, death and callous natural laws of animalistic, predatory survival. Out of it all however, the beauty of nature and an overriding godly intelligence as perceived through the artistic sensibility of words, can give the chaos of life some sort of meaning. Words, sharper than bullets can cut through the chafe and give us hope. The poet: renderer of words becomes a prophetic voice, like Jesus, who although, just a man, can give words of hope and redemption away from fear. Just as in It Appears, seasons change from death to life and on again and the parched landscape of driveways in the summer sun are cleansed and healed by summer rain.
All in all, Paradise is Revealed in the pleasure of sun, ocean and the sweet taste of lemonade. In Friendly Moon, even though the moon is always punctual, nothing can take the joy of human interaction: friends although late are better than the moon, in keeping fear at bay. In spite of it all, beauty, friendship and love are the poet's words to keep. They are the only magic we have in order to continue living. The heart will keep pumping blood through our veins; so too our hope will keep us treading on our life's path seeking out the beauty out of the cruelty of stars dancing with comets and fiery suns and icy planets.
This poetry collection is a deeply refreshing summary of life and the world, as seen through the young, poetic view of a very thought provoking, philosophical, promising poet.
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews, poet and author of How the Italians Created Canada.
A collection of poems based on the book Charlie Wilcox by Sharon E. McKay. 20 pages published by Poetry Friendly Press, Thornhill, Ontario.
Reviewed by Michael Persaud
Charlie's Contemplation by Mauro Cappa Jr.
Poetry Friendly Press, 2008, 20pp
I plunged in with enthusiasm at the prospect of reading Mauro Cappa Jr.'s chapbook Charlie's Contemplation. Upon hitting my stride with the third poem "Soldier" I read how topical, and wise-beyond-his-years, Cappa's words ring true: "A life of violence and death,/ a hero in a world of tears,/". His poems "The Wave" is opulent in its grandeur and the imagery and majesty it conveys: "A great swoosh of refreshing,/ cool, clean, water/ about to tumble and ,,./". There are many poems featuring a character by the moniker "Charlie", this stems from the book Charlie Wilcox by Sharon K, McKay which serves as muse. "Charlie's Thoughts" conjures beautiful juxtaposed images: "My passion courses through my veins,/ though in this box I feel new pains; His optimism shines in a ':Day of Remembrance":
"Hope is never wasted once it's mine", however, it goes on to expound the horrors of war. Loved his poems of self-discovery "The Who that I Am" (which brings this reviewers mind back to the days of high school) and the simply evocatively titled "Heaven". Mauro Cappa Jr. writes with a flair seen in Leonard Cohen's work (if I may so presumptuous to make the comparison). I foresee many promising things from this bright young talent. It seems when he tackles a poem he is very meticulous in choosing his words. I surmise he may have painstakingly written some of these compositions. The cover art is beautiful in its simplicity featuring a pencil sketch of a soldier in quiet contemplation pensively staring at the observer. Judging from this chapbook Mauro Cappa Jr. has a lot of promising years ahead