Daniela Gioseffi

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A documentary film AUTHOR and ACTVIST: The Daniela Gioseffi Story produced and directed by Award Winning Filmmaker Anton Evangelista previewed Fall 2015 and premieres, 2016. To learn more go to AuthorAndActivist.com

Founding editor of Eco-Poetry.org/ Poets USA.com as well as ItalianAmericanWriters.com/ Daniela is author of sixteen books from major and universty presses. In 2007, she won The John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry, and in 2008 The OSIA New York State Literary Award. Her New & Selected Poems: BLOOD AUTUMN Autunno di sangue] was published in a bilingual edition by Bordighera Press, 2007. SYMBIOSIS, poems 2000, was published by Rattapallax Press.

GOING ON: Poems 2001 [VIA Folio/ Bordighera Press]. WOMEN ON WAR [Simon & Schuster/ Touchstone: NY] won the 1990 American Book Award and has been reissued in an all new edition, by The Feminist Press, 2003. The following poems come from WORD WOUNDS & WATER FLOWERS, from VIA Folios: Bordighera Press 1995, and EGGS IN THE LAKE [Boa Editions, 1980.]

In 2010, PIONEERING ITALIAN AMERICAN CULTURE : Escaping la vita della cucina with an introduction by poet, Angelina Oberdan was published by VIA Folios/Bordighera Press. Gioseffi has published her work in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, among them The Paris Reveiw, The Nation, Chelsea, Choice, Prairie Schooner, MS., Kaleidescope: Stories of the American Experience [Oxford University Press, 1993] and many other anthologies and literary journals. She’s read her work and lectured widely throughout the USA and Europe. She taught at New York University’s Publishing Institute, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Long Island University, The School of Visual Arts and other institutions.

She has won grants in poetry and performance poetry from The New York State Council on the Arts which sponsored her creation of The First Brooklyn Bridge Poetry Walk, 1972, featuring David Amram as Pied Piper, and Maurice Edwards and Daniela, herself, reading poems by Walt Whitman, Hart Crane. Vladimir Myakovsky and others. Gioseffi has been an actress, a jazz singer, song lyricist, painter, and dancer.

Her feminist novel, THE GREAT AMERICAN BELLY… [Doubleday/ Dell/New English Library in 1979] was optioned for a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright, Michael Christopher.

Her book of stories & a novella from Avisson Press, Greensboro, NC. 1997, is titled IN BED WITH THE EXOTIC ENEMY. She has won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award for her story, “Daffodil Dollars,” aired on National Public Radio,

“The Sound of Words.” Daniela has broadcast on many radio and television stations, ie. the BBC at Oxford, National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., Pacifica’s WBAI, NY and CA.

She has twice appeared on The Poet and the Poem, The Library of Congress Radio Show sponsored by The National Endowment and hosted by Grace Cavalieri.

Daniela is a member of The National Book Critics Circle and has published reviews in many journals, among them American Book Review, Poet Lore, Rain Taxi Review, The Small Press Review, Hungry Mind Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Born in New Jersey, she is also editor of NJPoets.com Gioseffi’s world compendium, ON PREJUDICE: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE won a grant award from The Ploughshares Fund World Peace Foundation. Daniela is founder of The Annual $2000 Bordighera Poetry Prize. She was featured at The Poets’ Piazza, 2005, Hofstra University, and given a Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003 by The Association of Italian American Educators.

Her verse was etched in marble on a Wall of Penn Station’s 7th Avenue Concourse, 2002, with verses by William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, and others.

In 2010, Daniela published a much applauded biographical novel on the life of Emily Dickinson, titled WILD NIGHTS, WILD NIGHTS, after a poem by the iconic American poet. In 2011, she presented a benefit seminar for Poets House, New York: Transcendentalism from Emerson, Dickinson and Whitman to the Present which was well received and packed the auditorium of Poets House to much applause. Daniela’s books are available at Amazon.com/ and many online bookstores.

Click to: Daniela’s Appearances.

For all the bold and bad and bleary
they are blamed, the sea hags. [James Joyce]

Lizards nestle in bushes hurting and loving the leaves;
land birds peck at tortoise shells.
Feel how wet the earth is,
nearly all water.
Since the first woman bled,
there’s been a passion in everything
finer than lust, as if everything living
is moist with her and she knows the language
of leaves symbiotic with animals.

In the trees is a clue to everything
and a happy one, like the genesis
of estrogen. Plants cry
when animals are murdered; hands think
as bees emoting sweet sweat;
apples are made for eating;
even mathematics is glandular;
an algebra of feelings.
Only wars are waged
in the guise of pure perception
as though flesh were an alloy of aluminum
or a isolated element.Words whirl me round in pools.
I clung to my teeth, grinding mountains.
I floated. She screams. I drop
through an eternity of light.
I fall, calling for animals to warm me,
pleading with trees to feed me. Darkness fills me
like a carbohydrate.
Ponds ooze; crickets drone in black space.
A snake slides to another rock;
a seed is dragged to another grave.
Human voices hum behind the stones,
a vast, lonely conscience
strains to give itself a name.
The cave of sleep opens as
I spread my legs. The father enters
the iridescent dark from which he came.
Blocks of ice fall from his aging flesh. She turns from him
to marry him and be his mother again. When I turn again,
I’m the daughter who strived to be the son.

The shine of his skin slides down my throat. Seaweed
glides through my legs. Kisses. Kisses.
Land and water come together in the mud of our lips
crawling with tongues which give touch to words.
He swims into me in clouds of semen.
Babies cry in our mouths. We float
from the warm well in aboriginal kisses.

I take off my dress;
I lift off my breasts;
I have a talk with the sparrows
who inhabit my chest.
I’m divided by contrary loves I’ve taken in.
When I open my legs a river of contradiction
flows from me.

My arms and legs are estuaries
rippling toward my stomach.
I drown inside myself longing for a god
to speak to me from my lover’s tongue,
as we explode together in whirlpools
of sperm and ova spinning against the silence.

When the baby came down out of me,
it felt thick between my lips,
squeezing out erect life. Its belly passed
my clitoris as it came with its cries
of semen squirting from me. As its toes slid
out, I was female again….

A vast landscape accepts her with silence
as if it were her private garden
to gather stones from her sleep.
The phantom of age descends the staircase!

In the middle of the afternoon, when light
is blinding, I’m looking for a man with arms
like tree trunks and fingers like branches
to turn my nipples green as spring buds.
I’m waiting outside myself
for him to welcome me in
or is it sleep I want from his touch.
I put on feathers like a bird
or a chorus girl. He can’t know which.

If he comes to her bed,
She’ll be a chorus of birds singing in wet leaves.
The mouth of my dream will be open forever.
I’ll burst with a child, time hurled from her throat.
I’ll paint a song beneath my eyelids
to sing into his sighs:Down by the water,
silver-haired witches are dancing,
down by the water,
tossing their curls.
Their breasts are eyes
from which the sea rises.
In their mouths the sea cries.
They are kicking the sand
made from our bones.
Silver-haired witches
down by the water,
singing and dancing,
playing with bones.

We take for each other
the place of absent gods.
We bargain for the eyes of fish
to swim in an underground stream
longing for no end.

These are our plum pits,
petrified and strung.
These are our beetles gleaming in the coal.
We have come shining in ice from the mud
trailing seaweed in our wings of bone.
We read and write books
from the deep spring of orgasm flowing in the flesh,
we erupt in cataleptic fits
as faith from the insane.
We will invent love until the sea closes in.

The phantom of age ascends my staircase;
a vast landscape accepts her with silence;
I gather stones from her sleep.
She’s knitted him a shawl and come to
the frayed ends of history.
His fingers are no longer primal myths
kneading her. Sea and shore mix
in one aged sex.

In the index of my womb, I find her face.
She is no spider queen after all,
but a green beast with arms of sorrow.
Her whole body is a phallus.
I came out from between my own legs
into this world.


Blizzards, gale winds, tidal waves, floods, sleet,
hail, tornadoes, fish frozen in the lake of Her mouth!
And they thought to tame Her, to hold Niagara
by the waist. To keep Her from eating King’s eyes,
they built pyramids against sand storms.
To span Her rivers, they threw legs of steel
over Her thighs, gathered Her fury like roses,
scoffed at the vulturism of the sea, took
what they wanted from Her bounty, and refused
to give back what they threw away.
They dreamed of holding Her, a wife in a pumpkin shell,
but no cage holds the sea. When they tied down Her hair
with steel cables, She sent up a hurricane, smashing
concrete. Her necessity is our peace,
Her mystery our gospel, Holy Ghost– Mother
of Us All, we shall climb Her mountains to search
for wild berries. We shall walk through forests
to suck Her breasts, cling as children at Her skirts.Electric lawn mowers and can openers will be hammered
into cradles for bread because She made the Tower lean
after we built it.
For every leg of a bridge thrown over Her, She changed
the course of a river, exploded volcanoes, carved
mountains with cracking rock and molten lava, lit fires,
melted ice, devoured coastlines. Now, we must
rebuild our houses where She chooses inland again,
in the midst of wild grasses, symbiotic creatures
clingling to the green flesh of leaves
which lovingly convert the sun to energy,
or perish from warring
over Her flowering bosom of mud.


A pregnant woman gardens, naked in her glass greenhouse.
Plants she tends and water grow from her fingers,
green silhouettes against her full belly;
round in the moonlight, a rapture
flows through her breasts to the mouth of a child to come,
containing all melody,
while father-starved boys
in dark cellars of crowded cities
slam-dance to anti-music made of nuclear explosions.

Earth hemorrhages Her plush wealth, bloody bombs
phallic shaped from wheatless silos,
prisoners of peace
accurately aimed
hate fail-safe or fail-deadly force
opposite to love, to eyes kissed,
bread baking in warm kitchens,
babies at nippled breasts,
suckled on green leaves which rise serene
from muddy earth, wet with animal dreams
as our human hands
in these dark times
touch bliss.


falls from the wet mouth of the old dove
and sinks into a river of fire rushing toward the delta
where the oceans will catch flame and evaporate with lust
and the children’s lungs will be sucked of oxygen,
but the president doesn’t notice. His polished desk
blinds him with veneer.

And on the street the crowds rush to glimpse the television
screen alight with the fire of electricity
like the body politic
as it broadcasts the baseball scores.

It’s the final playoff of the World Serious
and we are here, all of us with flesh eyeballs alight
with the wings of the dove as they flutter on beyond
the red and blue sunset
which continues to outdo itself year after year
since the mastodons crept from the sea of blood
baring mammalian breasts full of warm white milk
for all the many colored faces of earth,
children as they suck life from leaves of grass
withering now in the threat of fire or ice,
eternal winter which comes to each, one by one,
but need not be passed in one blast of heat to all the young
buds of being wafting perfumes as they burn
from bright autumn rust, beauty so enough
that it kills the caring heart with its own ceasing.

Copyright © 1975, 2016 by Daniela Gioseffi from her books, Eggs in the Lake (Boa Editions, Ltd., Blood Autumn, VIA Folios, 2007. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author. The Sea Hag in the Cave of Sleep was a stage piece produced at the Cubiculo Theatre in 1972 with a grant from The Creative Artists Public Service Program. It aso appeared in Eggs in the Lake, 1976-7, Boa Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprints contact Editor (at) Eco-Poetry.org

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