Liliana Kitts arrived in the United States in 1947 on the arm of her beloved husband, Roy, who served as an Officer in the US Army during World War II. The couple was married in her hometown of Trieste, Italy, but rural Northern California is where they call home.
Liliana faced the challenge that many immigrants do when they do not speak the language of the land where they live. It was important to everyone that she learn to speak English quickly, but she wanted to master the language she would communicate in for the rest of her life and it was decided that she would learn what people referred to as “The King’s English” and would speak English properly.
Her daughter, Leonore, who wasn’t born at the time, but has memories of people discussing Liliana’s mastering of the complicated language.
“My mom took on the challenge and studied the language and learned a great deal from her In-laws,” said Leonore Kitts, Liliana’s daughter, “I know an important part was that she read a lot. She then discovered poetry and became immersed in the language.”
As Liliana’s English language skills increased, she found herself writing poetry.
“Initially, I wrote about love. I wrote about my children, my husband, the wheat, rice, and the swallows who come back in the spring to the old wooden bridge,” said Liliana, “I wrote about our life.”
At the age of 35, Liliana obtained her Associate’s Degree and continued to take courses at California State University at Chico and write poetry.
“I wrote a poem for Jeanne, one for my mother-in-law, Ruby, and for many others,” she said.
To Liliana, her mother-in-law was an important person in her life, and although she describes the poem she wrote as short, it was also very powerful and captured her personality.
Liliana used her writings to deal with a loss that she experienced during her life.
“Poetry is very, personal – it has to be,” she said.
Her husband Roy, a rice farmer, also wrote poetry.
“Roy wrote about love,” she said, “He wrote a poem for me, and titled it ‘Safflower Gold.’”
After the passing of her husband, Liliana shifted her focus away from love and wrote about traveling and friends.
One of Liliana’s poems continues to leave her sleepless; a poem written about love, and titled ‘Autumn Leaves.’
“Yesterday, as I listened to the radio a woman was singing about the leaves. It reminded me of my poem, Autumn Leaves,” she said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about it and was up all night. It upset me.”
In the poem, Liliana commented that she expresses different feelings, and it was a hard poem to write.
“It was probably the best poem I ever wrote,” she said.
Liliana set her pen down and ceased writing poetry about 15 years ago when her health made writing impossible. Her poems continue to speak to her and to those that were able to experience them.
Although new poems are not sprouting by the Arbuckle poet, she and her family still share memories of when poetry was the language of their family.