Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Volume of Our  Incongruity 
by Diane Vogel Ferri

Poetry Chapbook  $14.99

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Diane Vogel Ferri taught children with special needs for over thirty years. Her poems can be found in many journals including Plainsongs, Rockford Review, Poet Lore and Rubbertop Review. Diane has essays published by Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, and by Cleveland State University among others. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Liquid Rubies and a novel, The Desire Path. She is a founding member of Literary Cleveland and a tutor at Seeds of Literacy.

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Reviews for The Volume of Our Incongruity:
A certain irresistible sincerity marks these poems. They invite us into sacred space, where grace and unapologetic longing reside and rule, where the singular voice we hear is so quiet and prayerful we must lean in to listen. The Volume of Our Incongruity, however, is more than a collection of poems. It’s a narrative, the story of a granddaughter, now recollected as one of eight “graphite markings on [a] basement two-by-four;” a wife, whose “love is a tundra, vast and white;” a mother, a “thirsty woman drinking every last drop of the sea.”   In language that is clear and deceptively simple, Diane Ferri reaches into a life lived deeply and pulls out truth.
–Lou Suarez, author of Ask and Traveler

In The Volume of Our IncongruityDiane Ferri chronicles life-shaping moments by alternately slowing down the kind of speeding landscapes seen from a station wagon window, and zooming in to examine life’s discrepancies up close and in person. These are poems for our times, stirring a compelling swirl where the past intersects with the present, where hope for the future can spring from a single sonogram.
 –Gail Bellamy, author, poet and Cleveland Heights poet laureate, 2009 and 2010

These intimate, powerful poems about family, love, and memory settle on your skin and won’t wash off. Diane Ferri’s voice is every woman’s, grappling with being a wife, mother and individual. In this vividly rendered collection, the specific details of a life become something wondrous.

–Lee Chilcote, author of The Shape of Home

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Remember You

There is a cemetery nearby where many of my paternal relatives rest. Four great-grandparents, three great-aunts, and my own grandparents are in one family area. My mother and father are in another place in the same cemetery.  I was close to my grandparents because they lived five houses away on my street as I grew up. I could walk to see them any time I wanted. I would bring my grandmother flowers and we'd play board games together.  I was also close to my great-aunt Irene. She never married and lived a simple, and I thought, lonely life. My mom and dad took very good care of her in her old age and she was a part of all of our family gatherings. She was 87 when I had my first child and I gave my daughter the middle name Irene so she would be remembered. 

Cemeteries are not fun. They make you think about uncomfortable truths. Many people have nothing to do with cemeteries because they say their loved ones are not there. But, in a way I disagree. When you go to the grave of a loved one you can feel their presence. Even though you may think of them frequently you are solely focused on their memory as you gaze at their names. I like to think that when I am there they feel a surge of love wherever they are.  It's a time to talk to them, catch them up on earthly matters, and once again, tell them how much you miss them. There are always tears, but it feels important for me to do. 

When I go to the Vogel plot of my ancestors I always say "I remember you." I say this because no one else will remember them.  Why would you think of them when you don't even know where their plots are?  The rest of my cousins were not close to my grandparents and they live in far away. My grandmother and grandfather have been gone since 1970 and 1972 respectively. Who thinks of them now that my dad and his sister are gone?  I do. 

I am still overcome with sadness to think that all of my many aunts and uncles and even a few cousins are now gone from this earth.  My mother was the last of her generation in our family when she died in 2016. So now my cousins and I are the matriarchs and patriarchs. Something you never imagine. It's a completely unique part of life when all those before you are gone. Life takes on a different meaning when you see another generation coming into the family as I do with my three grandchildren and my cousin's grandchildren. 

I recently read a novel that took place in post-war Germany. The main character visited a cemetery and inquired why graves were being dug up. She was told that they are dug up and replaced every thirty years because after thirty years no one remembers them. That's not particularly true these days, but it was a shocking reminder of the brevity of life. 

I recall my parents devotedly caring for the Vogel gravesites and I will do the same as long as I am able. No one else will. Every time I visit I will say, "I remember you" to each one there who lived and breathed and made it possible for me to be alive.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Friendship Lost

Have you ever lost a friend without knowing why?  The kind of friend you have everything in common with, the kind of friend who chose you to stand next to her as she married. A friend whose children were your children’s friends and you went on vacation together, made music with, a friend you loved and admired.

Then suddenly one day there was no more communication. No return calls, no accepted invitations, no more best friend for your daughter. Life was changing for both of you, but that shouldn’t have precluded a friendship, in fact, the situations created one more thing in common. You spend years in occasional mental and emotional confusion.

Many years later you see her at a movie theater and exchange a few pleasantries . You discover she lives only minutes from you, and that is a further injury to your heart. But it is clear nothing has changed. You send a letter asking for an explanation, but there is no reply. You must eventually let it go. But the thing is, you never really do. Years pass and it doesn’t come into your consciousness, but all of a sudden something will remind you of the mystery you will never solve. Then the relentless questions begin again, but there is no one to ask. You eliminate so many possibilities, but never come up with a possibility. 

Another decade goes by and with no apparent provocation one night you awaken with her on your mind. You have been on Facebook for ages but never thought to look her up. You are sure she is not the type to be on social media, but there she is. You send a message and she accepts the request, but again, does not reply.

Why are some things so impossible to let go, to accept? You only want to know the reason. What unforgivable thing did you do? You don’t really need any more friendships, but you needed hers.