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Bookstories 2: Raffael de Gruttola’s Where Ashes Float

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!


Where Ashes Float, my first book, was a biographical study in one part of my upbringing by two Italian parents, who had emigrated from Italy at very young ages. My mother came to the USA at age one and my father at nineteen. My father was a trained as classical musician who played in the pit of the orchestra for silent films. He also traveled the USA in a Society band during the ’20s as the “talkies” emerged in the film industry. My mother became a dress designer and worked at her trade and art for influential customers and large department stores in Boston during the ’20s. I was raised in a bilingual English/Italian environment. My interest to become a poet, artist and professional educator was probably influenced by my parents.

A second interest is the idea of using American Indian place names in English, of which there are many in the New England area. Natick, where I live, is an Indian name which means a “place of hills”. Massachusetts means (in the Algonquin language) “the blue hills,” which is a region outside of Boston that borders on the town of Quincy. There’s more to these histories with respect to the Indian reservations in the New England area during Colonial times and the use of English translations of Indian place names.

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