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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
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MAGGIE ROBINSON

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CIRRELDA SNIDER-BRYAN

KEVIN TOLMAN

MAX & JENNIFER VASHER

CATHY VEBLEN

DAWN WILSON-ENOCH

MARY ALICE WINCHELL

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  Featured Artist

  

Fr. Virgil Furfaro

Father Virgil Furfaro—poet

A Father’s poetry

—Margaret M. Nava

Carl Sandburg described poetry as “a packsack of invisible keepsakes.” Plato proclaimed, “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” And James Branch Cable defined poetry as “man’s rebellion against being what he is.” Father Virgil Furfaro would most likely agree with all three gentlemen.

Born and educated in Italy, Virgil Furfaro’s life was never easy. His father died in World War II two months before he was born, he and his sisters were brought up in the unstable atmosphere of post-war Italy, and during his high school years, it was discovered that the hard-of-hearing priest that baptized him had entered his name as Virgil rather than Vincent, the name everyone had called him from birth. Undaunted, young Virgil finished high school, studied engineering in Naples and the classics at the Classical Lyceum and the St. Louis University near Naples, and went on to earn a master’s degree in Spirituality of the Fathers of the Church. In 1973, he was ordained a Vocationist priest, and although he couldn’t speak a word of English, was sent to the United States to serve in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and finally New Mexico. Throughout his years in New Mexico, he served at parishes in Santa Rosa, Las Vegas, Belen, Mountainair, Our Lady of Sorrows in Bernalillo, and Holy Ghost in Albuquerque.

In the introduction to Father Furfaro’s recently published book of poetry, A Tormented Soul: Inspirational Poems, his longtime friend James Conder describes the priest’s time in the Land of Enchantment: “For over thirty years, he served the three cultures of New Mexico in twelve different parishes throughout the [Santa Fe] diocese. His close association with the Hispanics, American Indians, and Anglos of his various parishes and communities developed into a wonderful appreciation of their diverse cultures. His classical education, broad travels, and deep human interaction as a priest-councilor-confessor combine and reach expression through poetry in ways that illustrate the strengths, weaknesses, and foibles of mankind and nature in creative, artistic ways.”

Father Furfaro’s poetry runs the gamut from somber to serene. In his poem, “Genesis,” he tackles the problem of abortion and conveys the idea that “man is not born to enjoy life… but to perpetuate and communicate life for those who come after him—to preserve life.” In “Vision,” he mirrors the English poet William Cowper’s point of view when he characterizes the visions of nature as “mere esoteric digits that reveal the power of the Supreme Originator.”

Like many great poets, Furfaro looks at life with a pragmatism that is at once both realistic and disconcerting. Describing his own work, he says, “My poetry… is born from combining the fertile moments of my mind with a psychological, physical, and spiritual anguish that has characterized and tormented me for most of my life. Each aspect reinforces and enriches the other in such a way as to bring me a new vision of what I seek most—not a better life free of pain and anguish, but the appreciation of God’s wonderful gift of life, whether in good times or bad.”

Although he began writing as a child, Father Furfaro didn’t start saving his poems until he had what he calls a poetry conversion. “During a very stressful and long interval in my life, I came to know and understand the beauty and power of poetry as I never had before. I began to see in poetry the actual presence of a healing power. I began to realize that while pondering and writing poetry, healing sank deep into my mind and heart and gradually transformed me into the kind of person I had dreamed to be as a child.”

Admitting that many of his poems are not based on his own life experiences, Father Furfaro warns readers to study his poetry “with a mind free from the preconceived idea that the images and events described in any given situation were the author’s personal happenings.” As the Roman poet Catullus stated, “For the Godly poet must chaste himself, but there is no need for his verses to do so.”

Those who read Father Furfaro’s book of poetry will either love it or hate it. It is not a book for the faint of heart or those unwilling to face up to the cruel realities of the modern day world. It is, however, a book that reassures by putting into words what many of us can only imagine.

A Tormented Soul: Inspirational Poems (ISBN 978-1-4502-1300-4) is available in hardcover or paperback from iUniverse (iuniverse.com), Amazon (amazon.com), and independent bookstores throughout New Mexico. As an added bonus, the book also contains several of Father Furfaro’s favorite recipes—the Chicken Newmexitaly sounds delizioso. For more information, call (505) 771-0807 or (505) 867-2003.

     

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