"Every poem in this collection is like a delicious small plate with tantalizing aromas, combinations of textures, deep and complex flavors. And in the end, they satisfy and nourish. After reading Francesco’s poems I am inspired to climb on my red bicycle once again and ride into the wonders that this life always has to offer if we make the effort to experience it. Humorous, poignant, insightful, memorable, these poems are far from small watt bulbs. They shed light on the human experience in both grand and personal ways. Like all good poetry, the final effect is greater than the sum of its parts. Ideas, words and phrases, similes and metaphors are just the ingredients in this dish. And like great cuisine, the final dish is no better than the quality of the ingredients. Francesco Pasqualino has laid a banquet that is both delicious and satisfying."
CHRIS FENNIMORE , 2020
WQED Director of Programming,
Host of QED Cooks,
"This debut collection of poetry is both a reflection on physical changes in familiar streets and scenes from Francesco Pasqualino’s youth in Pittsburgh as well as his travels. It contains insightful musings on humanity, natural wonders, and life’s challenges. Mr. Pasqualino’s conversational style and accessible verse invite the reader to ride along on his red bicycle as he reveals poignant details about everyday experiences many might otherwise overlook. Jump aboard for an enjoyable, memorable ride."
JERE KRAKOF, 2020
Reading Red Bicycle Dreams felt like having a great conversation with a friend about art over a perfect cup of espresso. Francesco Pasqualino left me with a wonderful experience of thinking about the writing process and the eventual product of that process as a reader. Using his conversational style, he invites us into his exploration of poetry and the writing process. This conversational style reminds me of the conclusion of Rainer Maria Rilke's poem, "Pathways," where a writer pursues their solitary craft with one dream: "You come too." Pasqualino asks us to come too, and we are lucky to be invited along for the ride.
Reviewed by BROOKE PALMA, 2020
Should someone ask if I know Francesco Pasqualino, author of Red Bicycle Dreams, I would reply that I certainly do know him through his poetry. In this volume of collected poems are poignant verses that beckon readers to relate to his journey of memory and reflection as if the subjects were metaphors of their own experiences. Pasqualino's themes are universal: memories, passage of time, and everyday scenes that ignite our imagination by drawing our attention to details/emotions/significance we would have overlooked. We can easily join in the sorrow of time passing with his moving poem, “Hello, Goodbye,” that describes memory of shared time with his old friend behind the expresso counter. So too, we can feel the nostalgia he conveys when he recalls the loss of a once-magnificent bridge in “St. Pierre’s Ravine.” Pasqualino’s “brightly chosen words,” as Ted Kooser would describe them, endow his deeply personal ruminations with the capacity to resonate with the reader.
In learning more about the author through his poetry, I also found that Pasqualino possesses a droll sense of humor. His wit sparkles in “At the Gym” with men preparing in the locker room to return to work following their exercise routines, and his yoga backpacking trip in “Hot Yoga” offers both a humorous situation he experienced and an insight about his self-awareness. The wry humor of his grocery shopping at the co-op in “Supermarket Rebel” discloses his nonconformist side, as does his bicycling on Sunday mornings in “A Cup of Solitary City Streets.” Pasqualino’s sense of humor must be a dominant character trait. This obvious and sometimes subtle aspect of his personality is a delight to encounter in a poet.
There is much that can be said about the themes of Pasqualino’s poetry that give the reader an appreciation of his personality and range of interests. From the pure entertainment of “My Old Cat Lives a Pampered Life” to his introspective viewpoint on boomers in “Generation of Peace and Love,” it’s clear he won’t settle for the “prepackaged constellations” of poems found in the repertoires of other poets. Instead, he seeks to explore the “possibilities in the unconnected stars” of his wide-ranging interests (references here are to “Old Mandolin.” It is the breadth of subject matter he is willing to deal with, including darker topics as in “Stare Decisis,” that reveal Pasqualino as a person of strongly-held beliefs who can connect with the reader on a personal level through his uniquely talented ability to creatively phrase his ideas, feelings and dreams.
By reading and rereading Red Bicycle Dreams, I sense that I’m getting to know Francesco Pasqualino and hope there are future collections to savor from this gifted poet.
ADRIA KELLEHER, Ph.D., 2021
Adjunct Professor, English Department
La Roche University