Saba ’81 Explores Family Roots in First Book of Poetry

Mark Saba ’81

Mark Saba ’81 recently released Painting A Disappearing Canvas (Grayson Books), a collection of poems spanning 30 years. Centering on his Polish and Italian roots in Pittsburgh, the poems focus on the subject of family life and universal themes of what it means to be alive.

Paolo Valesio, professor of Italian literature at Columbia University, writes in the book’s foreword that Saba is a “writer who meditates on the entanglement of his roots and who sounds as if he is tenderly worried that his children not be too bound up with this entanglement while at the same time he is concerned that they do not forget it.” Exploring these complications in such pieces as “Poem of Forgiveness” and “My Mother Straightens Her Babushka,” Saba creates a lyrical autobiography that, at the same time, connects his own experience to the greater American landscape.

Saba is also the author of the novel The Landscapes of Pater, about a boy’s search for a father figure and trip to his ancestors’ birthplace in Sardinia, and the novella Thaddeus Olsen, within the collection Desperate Remedies, which explores issues of identity, privilege, and the state of higher education in the United States. His narrative epic poem “Judith of the Lights” won the Mellon Poetry Award as part of the collection Three Women: Touching the Boundaries of Life. Besides writing poetry and fiction, Saba works as an illustrator and graphic designer at Yale University.

Poetry book by Mark Saba ’81