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Tina Biello


Tina Biello is Italian by way of Lake Cowichan, BC. She is born to immigrant parents from Southern Italy and lives on the traditional territory of the Snaw-naw-as people. She is an actor, a poet and playwright. She had the great privilege of working with mentor Patrick Lane from 2008–2019. She has 3 books of poetry published: In the Bone Cracks of the Walls, A Housecoat Remains and Playing into Silence. She has a forthcoming book The Weight of Survival coming in February 2024 with Caitlin Press. She was the Poet Laureate of Nanaimo from 2017–2020. She collaborates with composers to create symphonic works set to her poetry. Her next one will be with Toronto composer, Alice Ho, called 'The Quietness of that Winter' and will have its premiere with the Vancouver Island Symphony in 2024. 

Nonna’s House by Tina Biello


Nonna sits up all night, prays the rosary, sometimes silent,  

sometimes sotto voce, 
Ave Mari’ preg’ pe noi. 
Me, lying beside her with one eye open,  

a dolphin asleep, keeping track of the wind,  

falling debris outside the window.  


Nonna speaks in a rhythm foreign to this land,  

a language almost dead 
as she prays for the wind to die down.  


It’s the wood she isn’t used to, 
houses made of stone don’t blow in the wind.  

Here, this house remembers 
a few short years ago it was a tree 
and does what a tree must do, 


She prays to her God to keep the roof on, 
her granddaughter safe, and this new life 
at least better than the centuries of tears she came from.  

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