Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Poetry keeps writer attuned to her spirituality
Desi Di Nardo
BY MIKE MASTROMATTEO
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
TORONTO — A Toronto poet is using her creative gifts in new venues to inspire a new generation to the simple pleasures of poetry and creative use of language.
Desi Di Nardo, a product of Toronto’s Catholic school system, is a rising star in Toronto’s literary community. Her poetry has been featured in a number of literary journals, and her poem Rainbird in the Annex was featured on the Poetry on the Way displays on Toronto’s public transit system.
Di Nardo’s work now is coming to the attention of audiences outside Toronto.
Her eight-line poem, Cup 293, was recently published on coffee cups in Starbucks throughout the United States. The text of the poem was crafted specially to fit the curved surface of the coffee cup, allowing patrons easy readability.
“When I learned that the Starbucks company was interested in my poetry, I decided to tailor my work so it would fit the cup specs with a slant to it so that it might appeal to the masses and not just to a literate or specified audience,” Di Nardo said in a recent interview.
She said the Starbucks poem has generated positive response from throughout the U.S. and beyond.
“Regardless of whether you share the same sentiments, the important thing is individuals speaking up, speaking out and sharing ideas.”
For Di Nardo, a parishioner at Toronto’s downtown St. Peter’s Parish, poetry and creative writing are a means to stay attuned to one’s spirituality.
POET LAUREATE’S PRAISE
Di Nardo caught the attention of Father Giorgio Di Cicco, a priest of the Toronto Archdiocese and the poet laureate for the city of Toronto.
Di Cicco describes Di Nardo’s work as poetry to be “thankful for.”
In the preface of Di Nardo’s latest work of poems, The Plural of Some Things, Di Cicco outlined his own impressions of the young creator.
“How refreshing to find a writer so unabashedly poetic as Desi Di Nardo,” he said. “In a world of politicized screeching and lament, one is reminded of Pablo Neruda’s definition of art as that which ‘gives people hope.’ By that definition Di Nardo stands head and shoulders above the mob of academic sirens and macho wailers.”
Di Nardo uses words, language and artifice to see everyday realities in a new way, drawing inspiration from nature, urban life and plain geography.
SOCIAL PROBLEMS IGNORED
Her work Canadian Moose is a seemingly simple poem about homelessness that on nuanced reading takes on a more troubling message about suffering and society’s tendency to ignore social problems.
“I believe poetry is universal and is something that everyone can relate to,” she said. “As an advocate for poetry, I get satisfaction from seeing people get excited about poetry, whether it has to do with reading it or even attempting to write it.”
Di Nardo also mentors young people looking for outlets for their own creative expression. She conducts poetry and writing workshops in Toronto area high schools.
Leora Rissin, a teacher at Toronto’s Jarvis Collegiate, has invited Di Nardo to conduct writing workshops, which include “huge classes of students who were not academically inclined.”
“Desi approached them with such enthusiasm, such warmth, such a contagious love for her subject, such insight which was communicated so clearly, gently and interactively,” that the students responded quite well, Rissin said.