One Question Interview: Carmelo Militano


Carmelo Militano lives in Winnipeg and is the author of a number of books, including poetry such as Morning After You and The Stone-Mason’s Notebook. Most recently he has published a novel about the life of the painter Modigliani, called Catching Desire.

In your novel on Modigliani and his work, you have striking moments of description even as you make use of a blend of different perspectives, including your own. The title Catching Desire could also be said to reflect your desire to know the artist and the story of his life a hundred years later. It feels purposeful that looking back through history was a perspective, almost a character, but was it a suffocating feeling or a most positive one

Thanks for the question. To begin with let me say a few words about description. I like description for description’s sake simply for its sensual and emotional zing even though it may not add to anything to the story or character. Yes, the title does include or suggest my desire and curiosity to capture Modigliani, to understand his ‘desire’ to paint; to ‘catch’ or discover what was the spirit behind his reach in art. It was a positive experience and I deliberately limited the amount of books I worked with to avoid being overwhelmed by research.


I was not interested in writing a detailed academic work. I was more interested in getting under the skin of Modigliani, to discover the essence of his artistic and personal reality and how both evolved. This was not ‘suffocating’ so much, to use your term, but at times exasperating. He could be so difficult, fickle, and inexplicable yet he possessed an incredible work ethic; romantic, and madly cruel to his ex-lovers, generous to his friends. His rebel behaviour in Paris at times seemed unnecessarily self-destructive. But, along with all that he was imbued with a type of pure artistic desire and when all is said and done it was great learning about him. He would have made a fun drinking companion if you avoided talking to him about Picasso.

One Response to “One Question Interview: Carmelo Militano”

  1. 1 Brian Purdy

    As a personality, Modigliani is, for me, as I gather for you, Carmelo, an abiding and fascinating enigma. i never have enough of his paintings or of him. Recently have been looking at the tiny archive of landscapes he left for us. These have further enriched my view of him, for through them his deep love of country is made clear. Perhaps one fragment of his ‘mad’ behavior in Paris was impelled by ‘home-sickness’.

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