This is young Italian poet Mendes Biondo’s first collection of poetry. There are 41 poems in the book- written first in English and then in Italian. The poems are typically confessional, free verse, lower case and punctuation-free in style. They cover a wide gamut of topics typical of a fledgling poet- every day events, looking for a job, finding one’s place in the world, the rebellion against society’s expectations, his quest for love, fucking, and his thoughts on Italy, writing, god, death and Homer Simpson.
The title poem appears near the end of the collection and reveals Biondo’s love for simile, his use of explicit sexual language and his signature poetic recipe- of combining food and sex.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
(Poem for Hot Organs)
I dreamed of writing
It happened after a good fuck with you
after a good meal
after a good drink
I was suspended in nothingness and I was launching
words in deep space
like proton beams
like swollen rivers
like I was coming
and everything was in peace
I had taken the weight off
of some thorns in the side
and of itches that I wanted to scratch
the world turned under me
like a giant sweaty ass
and I slapped him
together with the moon
a giant white ass
in a cosmic threesome
so I sprayed my cheese
on your spaghetti
on my meatballs
(all poems in this review are reprinted with the permission of the poet)
Asked how he came up with the title, Biondo says in the interview which follows this short review, “I wanted to pay a tribute both to Italian and American culture, so I tried to think about a word that would be able to bond them together. So I came out with Spaghetti and Meatballs. An Italian word on the first side, an American one on the second. Then it's a common recipe for both cultures. The second part of the title is a linguistic cast from a collection of poems by Charles Bukowski. The Italian version is "Musica per organi caldi" (Music for hot organs). I just changed the word music with poems. A tribute to the Ol' Hank.”
Biondo’s second language is English and asked about the difficulties he has faced in writing the stuff he says, “I wrote most of the poems I published directly in the English language. I've got to thank my English teacher during high school for that. She always told me "think in English while writing" so now it's quite easy for me to write poems in another language. I still face problems on puns, false friends and common sayings. I can make you a little example: you say hair - singular - when you are talking about the tricks covering your head. We call them "capelli" - plural - so it could happen I call hairs the hair. Quite embarrassing but funny, if you think about it...”
Biondo’s use of English in the collection is sometimes raw and unpolished and reveals some flaws in his use of syntax, word choice and use of tense.
My Italian is limited to a few swear words I learnt growing up in lower NDG in Montreal, so sadly I cannot comment on Biondo’s Italian versions of the poems.
I love the cover of the book and it is the most striking I have seen for a while in the small press. Asked about what brief Biondo gave to Jeff Fillpski, the artist, he says, “No briefs at all. I told him: ‘man, put your thoughts about this book on the canvas’ and so he did. I was really overjoyed of the final result even if Facebook banned the picture because of those red nipples. I think people have problems if they prefer to see gore instead of a happy pair of tits.”
A few poems such as ‘Dirty Fandango’, ‘By Bye – Fuck you – Bye (I’m a Weird Bastard and I Know It), ‘Morning With You Is a Slow Jazz’ are sexually explicit but they are carefully and artistically constructed.
The best writing in this collection occurs when Biondo tones down the mad or weird sex shit and writes more intimately in the second person direct to his unnamed lover. The poems ‘On The Carousel of The Planets I Wrote You a Poem’, ‘Your Rain’, ‘We Rolled In The Bed’, ‘Ciao’, ‘This Night I Want To Write’, ‘The Beginning of the Journey’, ‘To Our Broken Sandals’ and others are sensual, erotic, sometimes longing, and without sticking a dick into the face of the reader.
The simplicity and sensuality of ‘The Goose Skin’, for example, makes it a highly memorial poem:
The Goose Skin
I feel the goose skin
I feel the water that falls
from the gutters
I feel your breath
in the ears
and I want again those kisses
and those words
I want to fight against the sun
to be the only shining on
your naked body
and make it sweating
and make it bloom
as fleshy red petal flowers
and I want that my skin
rests goosy all night long
for our love
for your sex
In an afterword in the book entitled Just a last note before let you go,Biondo thanks his long term partner Elena for the support she has given him in helping him put his art together, “This book would not be done without all the wonderful experience we did and the support she constantly gave to me day after day, adventure after adventure.”
Asked if Elena is the unnamed muse Biondo admits, “Yes, Elena is the woman who moved me to write those words. But I always use a pseudonym for her or I don't use any kind of names at all.”
Pressed a little bit further about how she might feel about the explicit content about some of Biondo’s poems he says, “She is fine with it and, after reading this question, she said: “If love and sex are an happy affair, all is fine. A lot of people are struggling with toxic relationships, I think our own could be a way to bring a positive message to them. Love and sex should not be something you don't want to face, but a burning desire." Biondo is a very lucky man indeed!
As I mentioned before, a highly interesting aspect of Biondo’s poetry is his ability to combine images of eating & sex. His poem ‘We Rolled In The Bed’ begins:
we rolled in the bed
you were a grain of grapes
with all the pulp out
and the blankets smelled of grass
we ate each other
only the taste
of biting our pulps
The poems ‘Speak As You Eat’ and “My Tongue Is Like An Old Man’ are also central to this theme. The erotic, humorous poem ‘Dirty Sexy Sushi’ humps it even further:
Dirty Sexy Sushi
last time we went to a sushi bar
we ate like bittersweet pigs
all the rolls we found
on that oiled dirty menu
sushi is sexy
all these rolls seem
to have sex with our tongues
we paid the bill
with wasabi in our pants
we went home
and all the sushi
rolled down from my lemon chicken
rolled down from your well sliced sashimi
you showed me your crab
I showed you my salmon
we were ready for the chirashi
eat my temaki
drink my miso soup
suck this nigiri- it’s like a cream
make me a Bombay roll
taste my tempura fingers
take my ramen on your rice cups
what a night we had
what a dinner we ate
in all that you can eat fun
Biondo’s work is raw, sexy, full of imperfections and by a man driven by his feelings of love, happiness, food and well-being. Lap it up, digest it, have a crap on a loo, enjoy the experience as in his poem ‘One Day A Shaman Told To Me About Irony And Entropy’:
only in that particular moment
in that particular pain
low physical suffering
the great spirit will come
speaking words impossible to hear
Biography: Mendes Biondo is an Italian poet. His works appeared on Visual Verse, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Literary Yard, Angela Topping Hygge Feature, Indigent A La Carte, Alien Buddha Zine, Rust Belt Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, The BeZine, Scrittura Magazine, The Song Is, Poetry Pasta and other magazines. He is one of the editors of The Ramingo's Porch and PpigpenN. He is the author of "Spaghetti & Meatballs - Poems for Hot Organs" (Pski's Porch Publishing), “Where Hot Rod Rides” (Cajun Mutt Press),the limited edition chapbook “Young, Cruel and Angry Was The Night” (Holy & Intoxicated Press), and “River House Blues” (Horror Sleaze Trash).
Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Spaghetti-Meatballs-Poems-Hot-Organs/dp/1948920107
Mendes Speakeasy: Spaghetti and Meatballs- How it all started with a challenge to myself: https://themendesspeakeasy.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/spaghettimeatballs-how-it-all-started-with-a-challenge-to-myself/
Interview on The Wombwell Rainbow: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2019/01/16/wombwell-rainbow-interviews-mendes-biondo/comment-page-1/
Interview by Catfish McDaris on ppigpenn here: http://ppigpenn.blogspot.com/2019/11/interview-with-mendes-biondo.html
INTERVIEW WITH MENDES BIONDO 18 FEBRUARY 2020
When did you first develop a serious interest in writing poetry?
During high school I understood fine and smart girls were interested poetry and literature in general. So I started smithing words just to spread out positive vibrations and to melt girls hearts. I'm always happy to say I'm still writing for my long-term partner Elena and she is overjoyed to be my muse. I see poetry like a source of happiness and spiritual health. As I told in another interview, I think poetry should be a balm for the reader and for the poet himself.
What are the names of some of the poets who in the past and who currently influence your work?
I read a lot of ancient poets during my school period while now I'm lucky to meet living poets who are changing my style and enriching my self dictionary. I would like to thank for their works Catfish McDaris, John D. Robinson, John Dorsey, James D. Casey IV, Guinotte Wise, Marc Pietrzykowski, Marianne Szlyk, Deborah Alma, Finola Scott and many more. Currently I'm reading many essays and poems about Native American people. They are enlighting.
What is your practice- do you write every day? Do you do much revision?
I don't write everyday but I think to do it daily. I have to be sure about what I'm writing before working it on the PC or on the smartphone. I generally revise poems to check the spelling and to fix typos. Then I add or cut pieces if I feel they are not good enough in that position or poem.
Can you explain how you came up with the title of the collection: SPAGHETTI and MEATBALLS: Poems for Hot Organs?
I wanted to pay a tribute both to Italian and American culture, so I tried to think about a word that would be able to bond them together. So I came out with Spaghetti and Meatballs. An Italian word on the first side, an American one on the second. Then it's a common recipe for both cultures. The second part of the title is a linguistic cast from a collection of poems by Charles Bukowski. The Italian version is "Musica per organi caldi" (Music for hot organs). I just changed the word music with poems. A tribute to the Ol' Hank.
What brief did you give Jeff Filipski for the front cover or was it taken from an existing image of his?
No briefs at all. I told him: "man, put your thoughts about this book on the canvas" and so he did. I was really overjoyed of the final result even if Facebook banned the picture because of those red nipples. I think people have problems if they prefer to see gore instead of a happy pair of tits.
You mention that Deborah Alma, the Emergency Poet was the first person who encouraged you to write poems in English: https://
Do you do your own translations? What are some of the problems you've faced in writing in English?
I wrote most of the poems I published directly in the English language. I've got to thank my English teacher during high school for that. She always told me "think in English while writing" so now it's quite easy for me to write poems in another language. I still face problems on puns, false friends and common sayings. I can make you a little example: you say hair - singular - when you are talking about the tricks covering your head. We call them "capelli" - plural - so it could happen I call hairs the hair. Quite embarassing but funny, if you think about it...
What is the story behind Pski’s Porch's decision to publish a bilingual edition of your book in English and Italian?
I came up with that idea because I wanted to pay tribute to both cultures. Marc did a wonderful work - and I thank him for that. He always believed in me, even when I asked him to publish the printed edition of The Ramingo's Porch along with Catfish McDaris. We rocked during that period.
Many of your poems in the collection are romantically addressed to an unnamed female. At the end of the book in a section called 'Just a last note before you go' you perhaps identify her as your long-term partner Elena Bello. If this is the case, what does she think about the intimate, sexually explicit nature of some of your poems?
You can delete perhaps. Ha. Yes, Elena is the woman who moved me to write those words. But I always use a pseudonym for her or I don't use any kind of names at all. She is fine with it and, after reading this question, she said: "If love and sex are an happy affair, all it's fine. A lot of people are struggling with toxic relationships, I think our own could be a way to bring a positive message to them. Love and sex should not be something you don't want to face, but a burning desire."
I notice you have published three books of poetry since Spaghetti and Meatballs. How has your poetry developed in style, subject matter and theme since then?
I'm trying to focus more on storytelling and finding the right image to bring out from the sheet. So I'm writing longer poems with different subject matters in them. The main theme is always love. Even when you are lost, even when everything seems wrong, love is the only answer. I know, it sounds quite hippie... so what?
Are you still involved as an editor at Ramingo’s Porch? If so, what's been happening there lately?
Yes, I'm still an editor and I share this wonderful experience with Catfish McDaris (I'm also an editor of his e-mag "PpigpenN" along with John D. Robinson). We decided to abandon the printed magazine due to shipping costs. The soul of the project is the same: to bring you the best works people send us.
What’s next for you Mendes?
I published 4 books in one year. Maybe I should slow down, have fun and work on more poems. I'm submitting poems here and there, though. Let's see what happens!
Thanks for your time?
Thank you for the wonderful questions!