Daughters for Sale


83 pages
ISBN 1-55071-045-1
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Kim Fahner

Kim Fahner is the author of You Must Imagine the Cold Here.


The lives of Italian immigrant women and the lives of first-generation
Italian-Canadian women are woven together in Gianna Patriarca’s new
book of poems. She speaks of the women who came from Italy earlier in
this century, observing that photographs of these women will be
displayed in museums but visitors and “strangers will not hear the /
songs in dialect.” As a writer, she recognizes that the
“responsibility of a collective voice is much too heavy a burden to
carry.” Instead, she says that a writer “can only speak for herself
and hopefully, in ... that voice, others can recognize the melodies of
their own songs. In any language.” Patriarca’s voice is distinctly
rooted in Italy, but also speaks out with Canadian nuances—a perfect
reference point for this country’s multicultural mosaic.

In the title poem, the persona of Rosaria speaks of her origin: “i
was born a fish in a Calabrian sea.” What becomes clear within the
first few pieces of poetry and prose is that Patriarca draws on the
lineage of women, giving voices to women who might not otherwise have
been heard outside their own heads and hearts. She writes women’s
lives, pulling new women out of the old essences, helping them to speak
and write themselves into a narrative of their own creation.

Poems like “Ode to Balls” and “Perfect Love” are proof that
Patriarca has no fear of moving forward from the foundation of older
traditions. There are women in these pieces who, unlike their mothers,
speak and act. As the voice of a new generation of women of Italian
origins and ancestry, Patriarca bends the stereotypes so that younger
women can breathe, speak, and write.


Patriarca, Gianna., “Daughters for Sale,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2995.