April Brings New Poetry Books

I still have Siena lingering in my eyes, but I am also focused on the new poetry books coming out this April. The new Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthology I have edited with fellow poet and poetical brother Marco Cinque, Articolo 1: Una Repubblica AFfondata sul Lavoro is about to be published by Albeggi Edizioni, with poems by Marco Cinque, Olga Campofreda, Ludovica Lanini, Massimiliano Dimaggio, Marco Lupo, Edoardo Olmi, John Claude Smith, Angelo Zabaglio & Andrea Coffami and the undersigned. It deals with work and we hope it will be a strong anthology that may leave a mark. The introduction is by poet Agneta Falk. It is a beautiful introduction. I am posting it here below:

To begin at the beginning,---the cover by Marco Cinque depicting a face of a girl with eyes that seem to look back into the future. The word Mortacci is a strong statement with which to begin this equally strong and engaging anthology.

In a time when work no longer is a given, when capital & power are in the hands of a  few, it’s important to raise our voices and form a chorus, to protest or bear witness in the best way we can, such as these poets from the Revolutionary Poets Brigade in Rome do with their gritty and active texts.

Poets are perhaps the least acknowledged legislators in the world but, despite that, they go on to stir and many times reach the hearts of others, which at best will connect with some brilliant intellects to persuade some form of action. To write a successful political poem is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, but I feel there are many here in this Anthology that ring with social and political clarity and truth.

There is also the question of those who labor away with little return for their efforts, who can barely survive on their meager earnings,---the millions of people who toil in slave-like conditions, who’ve lost sight of their dreams, their self-respect.

In this anthology, we hear their voices expressed through poems that speak of injustices like that of war-weapons being created in a world swarming with hungry if not starving people; work victimization, unemployment and the economic Depression of the 21st century; poems of indignation, with all their complexities of form and love, that don’t fall into the trap of sentimentality. 

Alessandra Bava & Marco Cinque have done a marvelous job in bringing these voices together to form this profound and heartfelt chorus that we all need to unite with through our own engaged selves. 

Picture from the book cover of
ARTICOLO 1: Una Repubblica AFfondata sul Lavoro
(Albeggi Edizioni, 2014)


Wisteria Hysteria

I swear if there is a place I'd love to live in Rome, it is the "Beata Solitudo" house on the Appian Way. As the name suggests it is quite secluded and solitary. The absolute best time of the year to see it is right at the end of March or early April when wisteria blooms and its lilac flowers make it look even more beautiful. I walked all the way from Cecilia Metella Mausoleum today to admire it. It is such an idyllic place.


"The box is only temporary," says Plath.

I have always been fascinated by Plath's bee poems, the culminating section of Ariel. They are haunting. The poems date back to the Fall of 1962, just a few months before she committed suicide. Despite the idyllic setting of Court Green in Devon where she was writing them, these poems set the tone of her "breakdown" and they also mark the incipient end of her relationship with Ted Hughes. As she writes in her diary, on October 9, 1962:

"Everything is breaking: my dinner set is breaking in half, the health inspector says the cottage should be demolished. There is no hope for it. Even my beloved bees set upon me today when I numbly knocked aside their sugar feeder, and I am all over sting..."

I have reread Sylvia's bee poems several times in the past few days and I am captured by their imagery, by the powerful metaphor of how painful the poetry craft can be.

Muse bring me a sting, I shall write...

Justin Fitzpatrick, The Arrival of the Bee Box 


Writing to the Poet about "Howl" and Other Things

I have spent the past two weeks writing about the end of the Fifties and reading an incredible amount of correspondence by the Poet dating to those years. I truly love letters. They tell us so much about who writes them. They are so vibrant, full of enthusiasm and the closest thing I know to real life. I always have the impression I am there myself. Re-living whatever happened. Conversing amiably with Beat poets and many others.

I must also find answers to doubts, though. Sometimes I just feel like I have a huge jig-saw puzzle to complete and, when things do not match, I return to the Poet. This morning I had to write to him a long e-mail dealing with his Dartmouth years, his Mayakovsky translations, meeting Allen Ginsberg, an amazing reading of "Howl" by Jack Gilbert and an argument with Robert Creeley.

I am looking forward to moving forward. Even if my "forward" is not literal. I have already written a huge amount of the Poets' life in the Sixties and Seventies. Truth is I feel this bio will have a jazzy feel. The outline is there, but I end up writing about what interest me most at a given moment. Rhythm is important, but improvisation matters!


Busy with Poetry

This has been a busy poetic week in so many ways. I have been writing the biography each and every day, some days adding just a few hundred words, some other up to a thousand. I don't mind the uneven pace--as it pretty much depends from my daily work schedule--but it is very important for me to keep the wip rolling.

This morning I have finished tweaking the review I wrote for a really beautiful chapbook. And, I truly hope to find a home for it soon. I feel this work will stay with me for a long time. I love it when poetry touches me this way.

I have also finished translating the last poem in the poetry manuscript of a SF poet that is due to be published here in Italy in the coming Fall. The poet and I are very happy regarding this collaboration.

Last, but not least, I have also translated 2 poems from French by Michel Butor that are a thing of Beauty. Butor is such a exquisite poet. It is a joy to be able to translate him into Italian.

And, I should not fail to mention that I have recceived a lovely book of poems by poet Ilaria Mainardi, which I hope to review soon. I am so happy when poets send me their work. I do love all my poetical connections in Italy and around the globe.

This reminds me I have hardly written a poem this week. As Charles Baudelaire would say: "everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself."

So, I'd better get started!

P.S. If, just like me, you have not had enough of Poetry yet, please consider buying a copy of John Claude's Autumn in the Abyss. You will love his novelette steeped in poetry. You truly will! :)

Odilon Redon, Flower of Evil


Even Sadness Helps When Writing a Bio

Writing a biography can be quite a demanding exercise. It is not all about writing an unbiased account or simply researching into the life of your subject-matter, it is not all about corresponding with people who have known your man, but it is also "reliving" a life and trying your best to feel what the other person felt. It is wearing someone else's shoes all the time. It is feeling the empathy. Experiencing the happiness and the grief. It is knowing, on a day like today, where the poet's thoughts will be, what he will do--as he has done for the past 34 years--to whom and what he will write. People change, but habits don't. And so, yes, his sadness is my sadness today and I will cope with it in the best way I can. I shall write about Jack.


Where Do I Write My Poetry?

I will write everywhere and anywhere, but if I am in a writing mood and I have a choice I will usually head to write en plein air. Much like the Impressionists painted, I love to find myself amidst nature and Beauty. Living in the Eternal city is indeed a privilege. Even from my home in the countryside, I am just a few miles away from exceptional beauties. The Appian Way is indeed one of my favorite places. The area is blessed with so many ruins and surrounded by an amazing rural setting that it is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sitting close to the old monuments, enjoying the chirping of the birds, spotting the occasional rabbit, fox or hoopoe on a spring day inspires me in ways I cannot properly describe. I was there yesterday in the late afternoon and, as I took a break from my writing, I also took some pictures at dusk. I hope they convey how breathtaking the Appian Way is.