Antonia Facciponte, an emerging writer and a student in the Master of Arts in creative writing program at the University of Toronto, is releasing a new poetry book called To Make a Bridge on April 6. In it, she explores themes of intergenerational bridge-making and family — especially expressed through food and culinary traditions. The book mirrors her life experiences and reflects her last name “Facciponte,” which roughly translates to “make bridge” or “make us a bridge” in Italian.  

I spoke to Facciponte about her motivations behind writing the book. She mentioned that she is interested in writing poetry about ordinary “little things like cutting a peach or peeling onions or making ravioli.” 

Despite the realness of the lively characters employed in her poems, they are completely fictionalized. Facciponte bases her writing on bits of her regular life, and from that point, they are “fictionalized [and] poeticized.” She added, “This isn’t a memoir or anything like that. It’s all fiction, but it starts… from little points of interest in daily life.” 

The poem collection is ordered like an opera, with each section focusing on a different theme, such as cooking or family. According to Facciponte, the opera-like structure underscores “the resonances between these different threads of thought.” 

Facciponte dismembers daily elements of life and sometimes adds a subtle and romantic quality to them. Extraordinary visual and auditory imagery are some of the first-glance characteristics of the book. 

For example, the poem “Understanding” describes the moon’s light as a melody reaching the ears — the metaphorical eyes — of the reader: “Listen / For the moon’s / monthly melody.” Her careful narration keeps the collection pertinent and engages the reader throughout.

The book also invites us to consider and engage in our definition of intergenerational bridge-making. To Make a Bridge explores bridge-building through food, stories, and most importantly, intergenerational love. 

For Facciponte, bridge-building is about recognizing that “you grew up in a very different time from generations before you… It’s about trying to connect with the past and bridge to the past so that you can move into the future.” 

This is very much exemplified through the book, which portrays bridge-making through multiple faces — whether it be the protective grasp of Nonno, or even the creation and degustation of food around the table. International bridge-making is essential to Facciponte’s work.  

As eloquently stated in the eponymous poem, “To Make a Bridge,” bridge-making is “an act of creation that ushers us / across time and in-between stories, / an act of navigating, exploring / the bearings that bind each to the other.” 

In other words, this poetry collection encourages us to explore our inner desires and connect with our communities. Stories are the common thread of unity across our shared humanity — they build bridges into real or alternative realities and have the fundamental power to reshape our understanding of life. This book hints at such radical possibilities of poetry.  

This collection also explores bridge-making through food. In the poem “To Make a Bridge,” Facciponte narrates: “But while I / craft mouthfuls of ink, you / spell out another bridge: / precious plates of penne, heart / raving ravioli, all smothered / with the sugo you schooled me / to craft.” 

Different types of people have different ways of connecting with their communities. In the collection, parents and grandparents show their love through home-cooked meals and passing down family recipes.  

In another poem, “Intermezzo,” food is explored in a sensory way. The reader becomes defamiliarized with usual items. Speaking of tomatoes, the passage reads, “pulpy red specks whirlpool down the drain. / Nonno takes a space at the table’s edge, / slicing a peach. / Dismembered chunks plop / into his glass of vino, / a speechless ballad.” 

The senseful strangeness of this narration captivates the reader. Through this poetry collection, one can admire the poetry of the boring, mundane, and overlooked aspects of everyday life.  

The theme of family is also prominent and explored through many alternatives within the text. In one poem, grandparents are portrayed as family builders — providing support for the foundation of the family. 

The poem “Sitting on the Couth with Nonno” reads, “my ombra, keeping / me cool from suns that wither plants / as I grow / further and further into myself.” This poem portrays family values as something that keeps us grounded in the chaos of the world.  

For readers, bridge-making can take on multiple interpretations. As we are disconnected during this pandemic, bridge-making is more important than ever. This poetry collection helps us reshape and reconsider our relations to everyday items. Sometimes, it will help us romanticize the moon, or, funnily enough, admire the strange nature of tomatoes.