Former local resident writes lyrical poetry book

When the rest of the world is fast asleep, Michael Incitti often can be found writing.

Incitti, a former Williamsport resident who now resides in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is the author of the recently published book, “A Minor Poet in a Minor Key,” a collection of lyrical poems written over the past 25 years.

The book’s title pays homage to the artists mentioned in the book – including another poet, Dorothy Parker, and her “Song in a Minor Key” poem – while highlighting his musical intentions.

Many of the poems are inspirational and intended to be accompanied by music that the self-trained pianist is still creating. The 101 poems were selected because of their meaning to the author and his connection to the stories about their creation; 24 have music written for them.

Unlike other poetry books, each poem in Incitti’s book includes the meaning behind the work, which allows the reader to better understand the author’s inspirations. The final poem in the final chapter is the titular one.

Incitti was encouraged to put together the book by his daughter, Marissa, who was pursuing a graduate degree in book publishing.

It’s hard to imagine when Incitti found the time to pursue this passion, as many were written while he was a staff writer at the Grit newspaper in Williamsport. After working in newspapers for five years, he began graduate school at Temple University, where he completed a master’s and doctoral degree while teaching. He spent 15 years as a college professor, while raising a family with his wife, Aprile, and being an active coach and umpire for his three children. For the past two decades he has been an investment adviser.

In the first chapter, the anti-war song, “The Eagle and the Dove,” features the lyrics:

But now we find there’s no compromise.

The men in the suits keep putting down lies.

There’s no restitution for the multitude who died,

Except to say they tried.

“Carried Away” is about cardinals and eagles, birds that mate for life, and the metaphor for love. Surprisingly, several entries are intended as rap songs.

“I’ll Watch Over You,” in chapter two, was a poem that began as a 30-second coffee commercial contest jingle and was expanded into a 3-minute uplifting, Christian song.

“Summer Nights” was written in 1985 as a free-verse poem that won honorable mention in a poetry contest that year. “The Other Side of Paradise” was written in 1982 while he was working at the Grit Sunday newspaper to fill space in an issue that also featured an interview with songwriter Paul Williams.

Several poems were written as he was overcome with emotion as “these ideas appeared and demanded to be written.”

“Best Friends,” about a dog, was inspired by a photo that came across the newswire while he was at the Grit. “On slow news days, or when my assigned duties were complete, I would assign myself this exercise, pulling wire photos and writing from what I saw. It was good training to take a visual image and give it an identity that could be set to music.” Personal photos are sprinkled throughout the book, including the cover photo of the author at 2 years old.

“What a Team You’ve Got” was inspired by his daughter’s high school volleyball team and was performed during the school’s awards banquet. There are songs written about his love for his wife. He mentions that “I Know That You Loved Me” is the most autobiographical of the entries as it focuses on his adoption.

Chapter five includes “She’s Leaving,” a country song loosely based on a Northeast Pennsylvania couple who were in the news. “Zietgeist” is about Facebook and social media culture; and “Pretzels, not Plums” was influenced by his literary idols, William Carlos Williams and Ernest Hemingway.

“Sled Ride” was first published in the Grit in 1982 with an accompanying wire photo, something that made the hometown journalist’s parents, Angelo and Celia, proud.

“Perspective,” written in summer 1979, won a poetry award. “Patty and Marlene” was inspired by events in the early 1970s with his classmates at Roosevelt Junior High School who both died too soon. “1025” is the house number of his childhood home.

The book is sprinkled throughout with tributes to his parents, children, wife and friends and explores the topics of love, war, bullying, religion and more.

He ends the book with “A Minor Poet:”

All of life is a poet’s canvas

The tiniest spider in the smallest crevice,

Can become a source of meter and rhyme,

And can fix a word picture in a reader’s mind.

So a minor poet in a minor key

Is really a beautiful thing to be.

It’s a gift from God that I must obey.

The minor poet is me, forever and a day.