In Memory of the Poet Felice Giannino (1929-2010)
by Dr. Antonio Castaldo


When in 1990 Felice Giannino author of the collection of poems, songs and memoirs entitled "Terra degli artisti," "Land of the Artists,"  while reflecting on his Brusciano where he was born March 22, 1929, decided to have his work published, suggesting that I would write the introduction as well as ensuring the project's publication which finally, after considerable sacrifices, was recommended   for large-scale distribution.

A few days ago, Pomigliano D'Arco where he lived, received the news of his death. Within me, the sadness became more intensified, because I could not help but remember the recent loss of my father, Ciro, two weeks ago, who with "Uncle Felice" shared a friendship, a life of sacrifices and triumphs and the year of birth. Now even that of death.

In moments as these the warm and affectionate closeness of relatives, friends and acquaintances, to whom a sincere thought of thanks goes, helps to soothe the pain enabling us to continue along the path of one's own existence enriched by the memory of those who left us, and sustained by communal solidarity. To the Giannino family, to Mrs. Raffaella and their sons Pasquale and Roberto I express condolences on behalf of all of Brusciano.

So, exactly one month before the 135th edition of the Feast of the Giglio in Brusciano, the poet Felice Giannino passes away. Personally I want to remember him with the very words of my introduction to his book "Terra degli artisti" "Land of the Artists":

This work is the result of a meeting, between the undersigned, an individual profoundly 'compromised' with the reality of this mass-media glimpse of the millennium, and a representative of popular culture, whose ties have been removed from the consciousness of a large group of young people in the name of modernity daughter of a denied tradition.

I would like to open with a controversial nod my written presentation of the work of Felice Giannino, why then must I subject myself to "supergrasses" which for some time to this part seems to invade Italy, in the various fields of human activities or perhaps this may be the real reason: considering  I have reached a maturity that allows me to understand, only now, the 'essence of a traditional form of art and popular culture so peculiar as the "Feast of the Gigli of Brusciano."

Therefore I want to say thanks to Felice Giannino, who, with his lyrics and his ballads is continuing a tradition, for the most part transmitted orally, and together with him also merits  mention the masters of festivity, the cullatori, authors of lyrics and music, builders of carts and lillies and the financial backers who supplied the funds for the realization of all this. Personages who assume names, and recall of faces ,introduced in the brief "History about Brusciano," which Giannino has attached to this collection of poems, fishing in the sea of the city's historical memory as well as personal, inevitably tapping into the old days of 'Once upon a time.'

Felice Giannino was part of that small formation of authors whom the festivity masters turn to each year in order to obtain the lyrics set to music that will represent exclusively this or that giglio in the competition for the 'song' which will accompany a procession for the duration of the festival, evolving together with the music and distinctive show. Once the feast is passed, the following year, becomes common heritage, the songs are often used interchangeably and among the most common are those of Felice Giannino which recognizes Ninuccio Tramontano as one of the greatest masters of the genre such that Brusciano ever had.

Nonetheless before being a songwriter, Felice Giannino was a poet. He with his simple yet intense verses, gathers a state of mind, photographs a situation, fixes to paper a thought destined otherwise to fly away, subjects to the inexorable law of the times. We discover therefore images so dear that recall and indicate the moments of his formation, employment, of the political-union engagement, family life and of country, and an honest existence made up of joys and sorrows.

Inasmuch as this self taught laborer has found, that after cultivating in secret a passion for poetry, the common people, the people whom he so loved and which is reciprocated in equal measure, a favorable reaction, as empathy, to acknowledge together within those words, those sentiments, those events, in that way of comparing himself with the surrounding reality, in a continuous osmosis, that it characterizes a common life experience. This has prompted him to continue and exist without shame to those people of whom he sings the spirit of it. Promoting himself directly through public readings at meetings and cultural festivals not only has he been appreciated in Brusciano, but also on competent squares of Nola, Barra and Napoli whose feast of the Gigli and caves feet never fail to submit its old and new songs.

However, let's observe more closely the work of Felice Giannino. In reading his poems, two authors come to mind, for their similarities in form and content: Raffaele Viviani (Poesie, Napoli 1972) and Edgar Lee Masters (Anthology of Spoon River, Torino 1971). The first one, for its immediate authentic language, expressed in the style of the native Neopolitan that seems to heal those fractures, that separation between art and the life of Pirandello's memory. The second one, for life itself, that flows, that the province to an extent can experience the strong passions, the dramas of jealousy, the inseparable friendships, the strong sense of love and family, but also capable of great envy and falsehood and in the slow coming of time, pulls out its routine of joys of the few dreams that have come true and regretting the many that were never realized.

The lyrics that were intended to be the theme music, plays instead one of nostalgia : for an ancient love whose memory is revived by “Na frunnella e’ rosa dint’a nu libro e’ scola abbandonato”, (1) (A rose petal inside a text book left in an abandoned school) which might have happened in the midst of the hands putting in place the old bookcase at home; for the distant land towards which he discovers then the duty of patriotic servitude. Finally the sentiment for the feast, which has a bitter taste although transient, and while performing, the nostalgia reappears triggered by the hourglass of anticipation ‘pecché nce vò nat’anno pè vedé chisti gigli, sti figli ‘e sta Città’’.(2) (because it is required another year to see these Gigli, children of this City.)

From the cultural event at this time, to the continuity of today, we have the human and artistic legacy of Felice Giannino.

                                                                                                          Dr.  Antonio Castaldo


(1) This is written in the Neapolitan language. In Italian it means "un petalo di rosa dentro un libro di scuola abbandonato." It is a verse from one of Felice Giannino's poems.

(2) This is written in the neapolitan language. In Italian it means "perché ci vuole un altro anno per vedere questi gigli, figli di questa Città." This is a verse from one of Felice Giannino's songs.



Website: The History
Article Name: In Memory of the Poet Felice Giannino (1929-2010)
Translation into  English Miriam Medina


By Dr. Antonio Castaldo,
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