New Book: Semillas amargas / Bitter Seeds

semillas

I can’t wait to read a new book published earlier this month in Puerto Rico by Divinas Letras—Semillas amargas: Tras la esperanza del oro negro [Bitter Seeds: Seeking the Hope of Black Gold] by Eddie Ferraioli.  Part of a trilogy, and edited by Gizelle Borrero, the novel follows the trajectory of Alessandro Ferriaoli Florenzano, a seven-year-old boy who makes his way to the monastery of Santa Maria del Poggio, then to Rome, where he becomes a respected coffee importer, finally arriving in Puerto Rico in 1898, “where he is surprised by love, madness and death.” The “black gold” in this case is coffee. I find it compelling (perhaps in a self-centered way) because part of my family comes from this coffee-culture migration (much before 1898), but also because not much has been written about this trans-Atlantic journey. Here are excerpts from El Nuevo Día on Eddie Ferraioli and his work.

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[. . .] For Ferraioli, one of our main stained glass artist and creator of mosaics, it was only natural that his writing process was steeped in as much craftsmanship as his work with glass. That is why, hand by hand, he connected each word to create a great literary mosaic through which he reveals the journey of Alessandro Ferraioli, a fictional character who brought him back to a forgotten passion.

Fifteen years ago, however, there were no words for the artist. Surrounded by silence, he did his work alone, trapped behind social phobia and anxiety. However, in 2002, he held his first major exhibition at the Ponce Art Museum [Museo de Arte de Ponce (MAP)], where he had to face his fears.

[. . .] After a long hiatus, the artist felt an almost obsessive drive for writing. The first activity he picked up was poetry, publishing three poetry collections: Vírgenes eróticas y ángeles lascivos (Terranova Editores, 2005), Vírgenes (Terranova, 2008) and Mosaikus: Palabras de cristal (Divinas Letras, 2015).

“As a young man, I listened to my father’s stories about his family, who lived in a small village outside Naples (Italy), where they had to go down the hills in a donkey and where they often went hungry. All the stories that they could tell me about the family struck me and I was able to identify a lot with that last name, Ferraioli. Sometimes I think that names and people have a lot to do with who you end up being,” he declares.

A voracious reader of history books, the artist began to feel invaded by the character of “Alessandro Ferriaoli Florenzano,” a seven-year-old boy who comes down from the village of Alciello in southern Italy, on his way to the monastery of Santa Maria del Poggio.

He invented a destination for this character, taking him to Rome, where he became a major importer of coffee—hence the title—to then reach Puerto Rico, where he is surprised by love, madness and death.

“There are historical dates and characters. There is ‘research’ and a lot of ‘back and forth.’ Much of the story takes place on the Spanish ship Antonio López,” he explains about the first volume of this fictional trilogy, which does not follow a chronological order. [. . .]

[Photo of the author by Vanessa Serra Diaz.]

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/estilosdevida/hogar/nota/eddieferraiolitransformasuarteenpalabras-2318288/

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