Caroline Maldonado was born in London, lived for several years in Colombia, South America, and now divides her time between the UK and Le Marche, Italy, where she has had a house for the last ten years.The Italian experience has led her to write the lyrical poems that make up the poetry pamphlet, ‘What they say in Avenale’.


In her past life she has taught English, worked in a law centre and with migrants and refugees, and run a community regeneration company in West London.  She took a Writing MA at Sheffield Hallam University where she wrote a novel but discovered that, at least for the time being, the power of poetry exerts the greater pull on her.


She has translated fiction and poetry into English from French, Spanish and Italian, and her poems have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and in anthologies.  She co-translated, together with Allen Prowle, ‘Your call keeps us awake’, a collection of poetry by the Southern Italian poet, Rocco Scotellaro, which was published in May 2013 by Smokestack Publications.


For the last five years she has had the honour of chairing the Board of Trustees of the journal, Modern Poetry in Translation, which helps her to live in a constant state of discovery of great poets from across the world, both past and present.




Caroline Maldonado


What they say in Avenale


ISBN 978-1-909357-65-5


Indigo Dreams Publishing




138 x 216mm


32 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


PUB: December 2014










What they say in Avenale


This house, nobody knows how old.

I lived here, says Gino, for twenty years.

A strange house, says Franco as we climb

through animal stalls and wine cellars.


Here, points Pierino, there’s stone

behind the rendering, over there

will be brick. No earthquake

will shift  this house, says Mirko.






A cruel month, kitchen garden empty

seeds barren in the soil

wheatfields crackling like tinder.


He waits for her in the next room

she can hear his creaking chair

all day he sits.


Sunflowers bow their bronze heads

frogs lie coupled in caked mud

a mix of clumsy thighs.


Sweat slides down her breasts

like broken necklace beads.

She looks out for signs, there are no signs


towns are dust-covered from hurricanes.

Everywhere she reaches for currents of air

enough to sway a skirt and be a harbinger.


Bullet or dried pea smacks the tin roof

followed by a spilled bucketful running

down like rats. She steps outside feet bare


opens her mouth to tongue drops

returns before his door, hesitates.







After days of heat finally the rain

a fine rain, a shiver in the air

a whisper against the thick sky.

I can hear it now tut-tutting through


the poplar leaves like a vexed mother.

You’d have thought it would bring relief

but no -  soon it is gone

and the earth’s mouth wide open.







Late evening I saw you, wolf,

trotting before me


all alone on the road

nobody uses any more.


Then you were gone

high up beyond the juniper


and flowering judas.

People told me


there were no more wolves

in the forests.


In breaking daylight

the farmer called on his son to help him.


Together they piled one

torn sheep on the other.















The musician in Naples


On a low wall in a church square

the Imuhagh musician says:


‘Two hundred in a fifty foot boat.

Crushed in the motor room we couldn’t

breathe. Twenty five died.


The last of the bottled water we gave

to the children  and when help came

we handed up the babies first.


In a hostel near the station

they give us coupons for food.

Each morning we stand guard


by a sheet on the pavement

and peddle our wares,

a jacket, old trainers, a phone.


I used to walk for hours in the desert.

I was blessed with solitude.

The land and I were one’.















È la vita

Six o’clock and everybody’s out.

The air’s cooling and the sun setting on Treia

makes the hilltown float.


Below wheatfields fall away

in liquid honey. Gabriele is back on the rooftop

fixing tiles on his son’s house.

His friends compliment him on its walls,

how he’s lined up the stones leaving ledges

for the roosting pigeons


and for the madonnina

an arched alcove over the front door

like the house he grew up in.


Anna’s on two sticks now.

Four months ago her husband died

in his sleep. È la vita, she says,


recalling how he courted her,

walked two hours to her village

after herding his sheep.


Maria Luisa guides her grand-children

along the path and Giancarlo

in his vest hoes his vegetable patch.





In the lake


Head above water

pivoting like the periscope

of a submarine, its body


a keen rope pulses it forward.

Swaying from side to side

the snake explores its shoreline


-  minnows in the shallows,

crusted mud, pebbles and scrub -

before dipping back into the deep.


I slip out into the lake’s centre

stroke aside the still water

flecked only by a dragonfly


or further off a leaping carp.

Here I can shift a monastery

or mountains. I can split the sky.


Who do they belong to, forked

and pale, floating below me

through the milky green?










“In spare, restrained language she is able to paint a description that glows like an icon, not only noting with precision and clarity what is visible but also providing clues to what may lie below the surface.”

Gabriel Griffin

‘Poetry on the Lake’ festival and competition


“They are bittersweet poems, delicate and subtle, by a poet with a flair for evocative, sensual writing, yet containing darkness as well as light, with death and loss often close by.  There is an interplay between these beguiling poems that offers a multi-faceted experience of life rooted in a small village but with implications far beyond.”

Mandy Pannett

Poetry editor, Sentinel Literary Quarterly









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