Jack in Rome: Attacking the Bio

It was simply great having Jack in Rome! The reading at the Circolo degli Artisti on the 17th and the one at Chiccen on the 18th were a great opportunity to catch up and touch base. Even more important was the dinner we had at Olga and Ludo's place on the 19th. Olga kindly lent me a notebook that I filled with notes. This time I did not record the interview--as I had done in Bologna last year--but I took an impressive number of notes. Jack enjoys talking about his past and so the conversation spanned from his childhood to the present day. I received plenty of feedback on his early girlfriend who introduced him to poetry, on living in the Bronx, recollections of his mother, amusing episodes concerning his grandparents, how he got to send a short story to Hemingway and the letter that the novelist had sent to him as a reply. I even brought him a perfectly legible copy of that same letter that I received from the University of Indiana, together with a copy of the reply letter he had received from Jung regarding some questions on James Joyce. And then, more feedback on Kabbalah and baseball. A very entertaining conversation. And, a lovely dinner that could end in the only possible way, that is with Jack reading us some of his poems. "Winter's Solstice" has become a sort of war cry. And so, "Happy Birthday Joseph Stalin."  :)


Jack Hirschman & Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade Poetry Reading -- 17.05.2012

SF poet laureate Jack Hirschman and Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade--i.e. Marco Cinque, Alessandra Bava, Olga Campofreda, Marco Lupo, Angelo Zabaglio/Andrea Coffami, Ludovica Lanini, Mariano Macale, Fabio Apperito & Marco De Cave--will be reading at the Circolo degli Artisti here in Rome next Thursday, May 17th. Mark the date. The Brigade will also be presenting their first Anthology published by Edizioni Ensemble, that I've edited and translated. We promise poetry will be incendiary! See you there.

Segnate la data sull'agenda. Giovedì 17 maggio, il poeta laureato di San Francisco, Jack Hirschman, e la Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade (ovvero Marco Cinque, Alessandra Bava, Olga Campofreda, Marco Lupo, Angelo Zabaglio/Andrea Coffami, Ludovica Lanini, Mariano Macale, Fabio Apperito & Marco De Cave) terranno un reading al Circolo degli Artisti in Via Casilina Vecchia 42. La Brigade presenterà anche la sua prima Antologia poetica, pubblicata da Edizioni Ensemble (cura e traduzioni della sottoscritta). La poesia sarà incendiaria: promesso! Vi aspettiamo.


Reading Fellow Poets

I have spent the morning rereading two poetry chapbooks. There is so much to learn from one's peers. Andalucia by Lisa Marie Basile is such an exquisite book made of the same stuff as fire is made of. An incandescent gem that really makes me hold my breath at times: "To etch the entire Iberian Peninsula into my skin,/the bouganvillas, the little bloody tapas:/finger tips and femurs and cracked mirrors. To live/ on the seaside with gluttony and lust as lovers./To wear myself like a cloak with a human head and/ jaguar spine. To sail forever never finding land."  This chapbook is a marvelous journey in a foreign land and into the inner world of the poet. Lisa knows how to chisel words and have them convey pure emotion. I want to read more of her works, soon.

Paulina Spiechowicz was born in Krakov (Poland), but has lived and studied in Italy and now in Paris. She writes in Italian and has a great command of the language. Her writing is mesmerizing and dense. Her book Studi sulla notte (Night Studies) published last year is a well worth journey into the night's world. I heartily recommend this book to all who read Italian. Its beauty will astonish you and possibly you will even hope to become insomniac, if the prize is being able to write like her. I am honored she wishes me to edit some of the poems she is working on. What follows is my translation of her poem "Api parte seconda, d'après Sylvia Plath":

Bees part 2, d'après Sylvia Plath

Bees, murmur at night,
waiting for Caesar's dream
to become prophecy
(the act of silence
to become biblical)

Sealed in many boxes
are the bees now,
blind wanderers
from right to left
from left to right
fertile with buzz,
telling our own lunacy.


The Poetry I Love

The poetry I love has to be potent. Words in poems need to resonate in my head and in my soul. Those very words need not to be adorned, but they have to be made of flesh and bone, of blood and marrow. Those words (and poems) only will be able to convey emotions in a way that make me feel them. The poetry I heartily dislike is the poetry that is fakely true: words woven with artifice, beautiful words put together with some sort of taste, but plainly soulless. Some days ago I was listening to a poet--who also happens to be the editor of a poetry magazine--reading some poems. And, I could not help thinking that she sounded so amazingly artificial. That is why I pretty much wrote a status line on FB that said: "Nobody read their poetry as if they were Anne Sexton, please and thank you!" One of my friends  remarked: "And please, nobody write their poetry as if they were Sylvia Plath." I cannot but agree: either you have a voice or you have not. I may not be the best poet and I still have a long way to go, but there is something I am sure of. Poetry sounds true only when it is felt, all the rest is just an exercise. To those splendid weavers of artifice, I may suggest to read a lovely book by Raymond Queneau named "Exercises of Style." I trust it will do them good.