Thieves in the Family

by Maria Lisella

108 Pages, 5˝ x 8˝

Library of Congress Control Number:  2014934953

ISBN:  978-1-935520-72-6

Publication Date:  05/30/2014

Press Release

HD Cover for Reviews

Cover Art:  The Thief of Hearts, 4 x 5 inches, mixed media, 2012
by JF Biron  |


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Thieves in the Family appear by day and night in gardens, dreams, encounters with the dead whose spirits transcend the web and weft of time. These poetic vignettes are captured with a cinematographer’s eye, laced with a love of dialogue, and an endless fascination with stories heard on subways, planes, in kitchens, and in foreign countries. Corridors of arrivals and departures bring together a seemingly disparate cast of colorful and rich characters who have more in common than one would think—a collection of postcards from working-class Queens to the Global Village.


In Thieves in the Family, Maria Lisella premiers as an expansive and multi-faceted poet in a book that is sure to be widely read. As a child of immigration, her voice will steal your heart with its transatlantic romance from the past to the present. These "second generations" will never be done telling their stories but it is always new when bracingly written, gaining power from the great tradition of narrative lyricists. Historical wounds are healed by poetry because Lisella portrays even the smallest acts of victory with clarity and honesty at perfect pitch. It takes courage to talk about family, and then turn it into art. This book is a testament to what a poet loves; making love bigger than it was before. To her credit, Lisella can create an entire dramatic scene within one small poem, changing our view forever of what America is and what poetry can be.

—Grace Cavalieri, author of Sounds Like Something I Would Say

Maria Lisella explores the life an Italian American woman in powerful poems rooted in love and connection and grief. She writes poignantly of all the relationships that make our lives worthwhile and records the past and present with equal vigor and intensity. This is a poet to be watched. I guarantee her poems will move you to tears and laughter.

—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, author of The Silence in the Empty House

In these pages Maria Lisella has made a beautiful, moving book of poems that takes us from "the old country" that our parents and grandparents came from and the persistent role that it (and they) play in our lives, haunting, exasperating, and delighting us whether we eventually return there ourselves or are content to witness the new arrivals to our shores bringing their own histories. Lisella calls herself "a Mediterranean hybrid/ with the suspicious heart of a peasant/ on both sides of the Atlantic." I'm glad she's here to tell us her stories with such wit, wisdom, grace of language, and passion. We need more hybrids like her in our poetry diaspora.

—Bill Zavatsky, author of Where X Marks the Spot