Geomantic riposte: 'Exaltation in Cadmium Red'

Sonia Di Placido is a Toronto-based poet, playwright, writer and artist. She has published two chapbooks, as well as many poems in several anthologies and magazines. Her first book of poetry, Exaltation in Cadmium Red, showcases her love of language and level of craft as a poet, drawing on her Italian ancestry and centuries of “Old World” artistry. One of her very interesting preoccupations is with the notion of a female Dante creating the ideal male love, presumably in a sweet new style, and changing history thereafter. Poet Russell Thornton waxes on rather marvellously about her first book, and here is the truncated version:

The poems in Sonia Di Placido's Exaltation in Cadmium Red lay authoritative and stylish claim to an older, deeper, more poetically acute and powerful song than is often heard in Canadian poetry. They evoke ancient passion - passion in all its senses of fullness of erotic feeling, suffering, and spirituality; they seem drawn molten out of the fires of experience and out of the poet's vulnerable, desirous, fierce core at "absolute stations of [her] dance with words."

Here is a taste of that to savour from her poem “Skins Over Pompeii”.

Exaltation in Cadmium Red by Sonia Di Placido (Guernica Editions, 2012, Page 33)


What else is there?

The restless search, this capsule

we both know, the ancient city we share.


You were hammered, sodden, drowned.

I am here, alive. It’s thirty-five

years since your murder,


my birth. We meet, our hurting skins,

a poem not yet proof:

I’m the new flesh of your land.


Tongue, skin, bone, breath into gesture.

Our absolute stations of dance with words

mimicking catacombed griefs.


I’ve finger-skinned their surfaces,

come to find you here.

I know this place, my blunt tattoo –


once juice, now skin over burnt clay.


Geomantic Riposte: Crackle


Like a lump of the misshapen in an art school kiln, that is

how I feel, coaxing this cultivar of self-loathing, national

pastime, through careful selection        Like erotic realtor

with migrant pool cleaner let us act out each emblematic

on automatic my fetish headdress shall moult no feather

when revealing another wing of Roman bathhouse that

runs hot and cold with walls still piping hot from Pompeii

then we’ll draw out the deposit from a bank with Dante

on the side of it      The tattooed bicep on the bus looked

itchy and melted into Huysmans fantasy, the kind driving

Wilde wild            Even in dreams, even in that villa of the

mind, we could not afford more than a stick of furniture

a measure of silk to read no more that day within and the

decadence of Watteauesque crooner and Venezia herself

sank under the weight of bloated cruise ships and the Old

World went global, extirpating ear-biting opera but with a

faint Libiam’     a crackle of the first crepitation       per Lei