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Poetic portrait of Middlesbrough artist Mario Capaldi

MARIO CAPALDI was a Middlesbrough artist whose work will have been familiar to many people who didn’t even know his name.

MARIO CAPALDI was a Middlesbrough artist whose work will have been familiar to many people who didn’t even know his name.

He illustrated strips for the likes of Marvel Comics and children’s books by Enid Blyton and others.

Mario died in 2004, and now he has been paid a wonderful tribute by his daughter, Vanda, who also lives in Middlesbrough.

Mario: A Biography in Poetry is just that, a life of hardship and achievement told in 44 poems covering 1935 – when Mario was born in Glasgow to Italian immigrants – to 1960.

Vanda’s biography is divided into two sections. The first deals with Glasgow, where Mario the budding artist grew up, and the second with Middlesbrough, to where the family moved in 1958 to set up an ice-cream business.

Vanda worked for 11 years for the Women’s Development Fund in Hartlepool before a love of poetry and a desire for change propelled her to a creative writing MA course at the University of Teesside in 2010.

“I wanted to write a biography of my father’s early life, and I have always written poetry as a hobby,” she explains.

“I was at a point in my life where I wanted a new career where I could be creative, and I decided that the only way for me to achieve this was to leave my job, although at the time it seemed like a very difficult decision to make.”

Perhaps she was buoyed by the example of her father, who gained little support in his ambition to be an artist but got there in the end.

Vanda tells us he encountered many difficulties growing up during the Second World War, especially when Italian nationals in Britain were labelled enemy aliens. Internment is dealt with here poetically.

The move to Middlesbrough brought fresh challenges.

As Vanda explains in a poem called The Absurdity!, Mario’s parents disapproved of his romance with Middlesbrough lass Emily: “She’s too tall! Too English, too Protestant, too prim!”

They make a handsome couple, though, Mario and his girl, and in the poem Torment you get a sense of how much they loved each other.

Vanda inherited a wealth of material from her father, much of which she channelled into this attractive self-published book.

To find out more or buy a copy go to


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