Di Cicco, Pier Giorgio

Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, poet (b at Arezzo, Italy, 5 July 1949). Di Cicco's poetry often reflects the dislocations of his family's life. His hometown of Arezzo was ravaged by World War II and his older brother died from a bomb blast in 1944. His family immigrated to Montreal in 1953, and then to Toronto in 1956. They settled in Baltimore in 1958, where his father later died. In 1967 he and his mother moved back to Toronto to live with his older sister. Di Cicco attended the University of Toronto (BA 1973; BEd 1976). His first trip back to Italy in 1974 was an epiphany that awakened his Italian identity and began his quest for a space in the English Canadian literary landscape. Di Cicco speaks fluent Italian, as is evident by the use of Italian words in his English poems.

Di Cicco's poems were included in Al PURDY's Storm Warning II (1976) after the publication of Di Cicco's first book of poems, We are the Light Turning (1975). In Toronto, Di Cicco worked as an editor with Books in Canada and later with Waves, Descant and Poetry Toronto. He edited Roman Candles (1978), an anthology of Italian Canadian poets that marked the beginning of the phenomenon of ITALIAN CANADIAN writing.

Di Cicco published a succession of books in 1977 and 1978, but his first important collection, The Tough Romance (1979), established his voice and marked the positive influence of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. This volume was translated into French as Les Amours difficiles (1990). In Flying Deeper into the Century (1982) and Post-Sixties Nocturne (1985) he continued to demonstrate the influence of Italian and Latin American writers. His style of deep images also includes a strong dimension of philosophical abstraction in Virgin Science: Hunting Holistic Paradigms (1986), which was the 14th and last book he published before he committed himself to the religious life in a monastery north of Toronto. In Vancouver in 1986 he helped found the Association of ItalianCanadian Writers along with Mary DI MICHELE, Antonio D'Alfonso and other young authors.

Di Cicco stopped publishing for 15 years while training for the priesthood. He earned his Master of Divinity (1990) and was ordained in 1993. He worked as an assistant pastor in 4 large Toronto parishes, using his Italian language skills, and later moved to a small country church where he could engage in a more contemplative life. In 2000 he began to write once more, publishing Living in Paradise: New and Selected Poems in 2001. Then came The Honeymoon Wilderness (2002) and The Dark Side of Angels (2003). In 2004 Pier Giorgio Di Cicco was made Poet Laureate of Toronto and was visiting professor in the Italian-studies program at the University of Toronto. More books followed, including Dead Men of the Fifties (2004) and The Visible World (2006). There is a marked difference between Di Cicco's early personal poems, which deal with ethnic identity, social conflict and family relationships, and his later poems about philosophical questions, spiritual ideas and broader global problems.