Feile-Feste is a taut little review produced by Paradiso-Parthas Press in New York City, “an independent venture circumventing corporate publishing.” The press defines the work it publishes as “accessible and innovative.” I’m not sure this issue demonstrates a great deal in the way of innovation, but the work is definitely “accessible” and much of it is appealing. What is most innovative, perhaps, is the inclusion of several works in English/Italian alongside their Italian/English translations, both prose and poetry. These include a very long narrative poem by a New York-based poet of Sicilian descent, Maria Frasca, and an essay by Enzo Farinella, a native Sicilian who lives in Ireland.
The focus on things both Celtic and Mediterranean (the business address of Paradiso-Parthas Press is c/o the Mediterranean Celtic Cultural Association) is unusual, and the journal’s work reflects this unique combination of concerns. I very much liked a poem by Susan Moorhead, “History,” controlled and tightly constructed with a surprising conclusion, and Janet McCann’s poem, “The Roofs of Siena” (“Here everyone speaks everything.”).
What is truly extraordinary about this issue, however, are the ten fantastic photos of Ellis Island, including the cover photo, by Janine Coyne, a professor of photography in New York whose work is represented in the collections of a number of museums, including The National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island. These are exquisite photos, unsettling and unforgettable. Coyne has an eye both for the grand and expansive, and the small and decayed. She knows how to frame an image to create an original impression of a familiar vista (the Statue of Liberty seen through a broken window) and how to defamiliarize the ordinary (a bathtub). In her gaze, a long mysterious hallway is both utterly accessible and entirely closed off. I am grateful to Feile-Feste for introducing me to her amazing work.