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Poetry Xtras » "Millefiori" by Jared Carter

Poetry Xtras provide brief commentaries, cultural & literary sign posts, or anecdotes about poems featured on Poetry X, written by the poet or a critic expert in the poem.

In the central Indiana town where I was born, there were, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, half a dozen commercial glass factories. Each summer the town still stages a "Glass Festival" in honor of its glassmaking past. My grandfather Hackett worked in a lamp-chimney factory before the First World War. On the west side of town there was a family of glassmakers named St. Clair that had come from Alsace-Lorraine. They made millefiori glass paperweights and other small glass curios. A hundred years later, they are still in business, the only operation of that type to have survived. Those people were friends of my family. Often when I was quite young I was taken into their factory to watch them work the molten glass with their ancient iron tools. Many years later, on the island of Murano, near Venice, I observed craftsmen fashioning similar artifacts. There is a priceless collection of millefiori paperweights in the Chicago Art Institute, and another fine collection in a small private museum south of St. Louis.
—Jared Carter

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