Showing posts from 2014

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Today is Kate Laity’s birthday. My lovely friend and writer extraordinaire has written wonderful books and it would indeed be nice if you picked a copy of one of her latest or even earliest works whether in print or as an e-book, today.
One of my favorite works by Kate is Pelzmantel. Check all her books here.
Queen Kate rocks!

Choose Books for Xmas!

I love receiving books for Christmas. Not just poetry books. I like novels, as well. I will attempt to give a few suggestions based on my personal experience. Whatever you choose for your family and friends, may it be something you love. I hardly ever buy books I have not read (or that I would not want to read) as gifts. Also, choose indie whenever you can!       1.Support small presses!Here are a few worth picking one or more books from:
Two Sylvias Press
Dancing Girl Press Blood Pudding Press Hyacinth Girl Press Sundress Publications Misty Publications
2. Support women writers!A few suggestions when it comes to poetry. Some books I have read or reviewed this year and that I truly love:
Alexis Rhone Fancher, How I Lost My Verginity to Michael Cohen: and other heart-stab poems

A Poem for Anna Akhmatova

When the Lightning Struck
I was bare as my skull hoping to find refuge in your words, brain teased to enlightenment as the pages
struck the clock of Reason.
I feel my blood thicken, Your writing is so hard, I am petrified, Akhmatova. We two are made of storms, сестра*.

(from Guerrilla Blues, 2012 © Alessandra Bava)

Rome's RPB Reading at Café Voltaire

I will be reading at Café Voltaire next Thurday 20th evening together with other members of Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade, Edoardo Olmi, Angelo Zabaglio & Andrea Coffami and Marco Cinque. We are presenting our latest Anthology, Articolo 1 (Albeggi Edizioni). I am very pleased that poet Maria Desiderio will join us. As always, music will be played by Giuseppe Natale and our Marco Cinque! See you there.

Poetry Work in Progress

Today I woke up to a new copy of They Talk About Death chapbook sold. I am sure I owe the sale to the recent, beautiful review by lovely poet Sandra Marchetti appeared in the amazing Fall 2014 edition of Menacing Hedge.

Fall is coming and some projects are drawing to a close. I have completed the translations of Paper Offerings by Alejandro Murguía, current SF Poet Laureate, and I have translated and edited A New Anthology of American Poets. Both should be published by the end of the year.

I am also translating the Poet for a new publication and, last but not least, I have asked 16 contemporary women poets to allow me to translate their poems for an Italian magazine I collaborate with.

I plan to complete these translations by December. With the new year I have decided to put poetry translation projects on hiatus, in order to concentrate solely on the Poet's biography. I want to complete it by next year, as earliest as possible.

And then there is my poetry. Right now I mostly write…

Blog Tour Interview - Alessandra Bava's Writing Process

"Wherever Art is going she will follow suit pregnant and barefoot from the balcony/in due time." (from Never Thirty-Seven)

What I Am Working On

After the release of  They Talk About Death, my first US-published chapbook, last July by Blood Pudding Press,  I am currently working on some translations projects--that is translations into Italian of poems by Alejandro Murguía, current San Francisco Poet Laureate as well as editing and translating an New Anthology of American Poets. I am also always working on my main WIP, that is poet Jack Hirschman's biography, which is indeed a beautiful and demanding experience. Writing about a contemporary poet's life and work takes a long time not only in terms of writing but requires so much research, too. I cannot but recognize how this work is constantly shaping my writing and is enriching me in way I find hard to express. Last but not least, there are always new poems I am working on--whether for specific chapbooks ideas or as stan…

What Matters Most: the Poet or the Poem?

I am indeed grateful to the upcoming 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in Rome next 27th September. Yesterday evening at a group meeting with the organizer of the event, John and I had the chance to meet a group of young poets known as MEP (Movimento per l'Emancipazione Poesia)--that is Poetry Emancipation Movement--whose aim is to billpost poems around town but without divulging the poets' names. Each of them signs his/her poems with his initial and a number that identifies them. You may check their website here to see how they work.

Their message is pretty clear: they want to bring poetry to the street so that anyone may read it but they choose to have their poems speak for them. No voice, no face and no name is attached to the poem. This form of billposting is unauthorized, so there is a strong element of protest that comes with their activity.

I am totally in love with this idea. And yet, I had to question my poetry Weltanschaunung. Does it really matter if people know w…

TWO POETS: A Poem by Neeli Cherkovski

Lombardo and Bava two Italian poets today sent poems, one from Venice, and one from Rome, Anna and Alessandra, and now I have taken the poems and began to think of the shadows and crevices, the deep gorges and simple lights, I mean I started thinking inside of the poems, as if I had been reborn in them by the simple act of reading
Anna, earnest, finding truth in things, tracking words down to the skull of a timeless memory – what poetry means to do to pull me into the sea lead me up the mountain place me in my own place shake branches of our tree late afternoon
Alessandra, vivid, a poem for Henry Miller and one on Baudelaire, a poem deep in  the maudit’s heart – she swims in mysteries of exquisite creation as word alone gathers strength by the ashen grove and speeds along across dunes and flat plains
poems at my fingertips from these two, and when I look again it’s the wisdom of not knowing everything, the peace of not being absolutely sure of all things, the gratitude for their taking the time to share

An Open Letter to all Poets from Jack Hirschman

I am sharing a letter and the WPM statement I have just received by Jack Hirschman. It is addressed to every poet I may know. I hope you’ll read it. Thanks!
Brigadistas everywhere----I've just returned from Medellin and momentous readings and meetings of the World Poetry Movement. Please read the document below----which is the manifesto underlying all we have all dreamed of for a very long time: a worldwide poetry revolution!
Please read it carefully and thoughtfully. It was unanimously approved by the Co-ordinating Committee of World Poetry Movement.
As most of you know, in 2011, 37 poets and organizers of international poetry festivals throughout the world gathered in Medellin and formed the World Poetry Movement. There have been  many and multifold readings since then throughout the world but this year's revolutionary adoption of consciousness is a step-up. Until now we have worked largely with groups but now in addition we are asking you all as Brigadistas and individuals as …

The Poet sent me his "Miracle Book"

I opened my mailbox today to find out that Jack had mailed me his latest poetry book: The Viet Arcane. I sat down holding it in my hands and started crying copious tears of joy. Those of you who know me--or have known me for a while--are aware that I am writing Jack Hirschman's biography. I guess we could say that fate played a great part in our meeting one morning in Caffe Trieste in North Beach, SF, in August 2010.

Holding this book in my hands, I feel how much the efforts of the writing and the intense research that I have been doing and that I am still doing have made a miracle happen. Had Jack and I not met that morning, I would have probably never have known who he was and I would have never started researching extensively about him. And, I would have never heard the story of Anh, the manuscript he lost track of several years ago. I would have never googled that word with a few others one day that pointed me to a "manuscript" that was housed at La Salle University …

THEY TALK ABOUT DEATH: my first US chapbook has just been published by Blood Pudding Press

So, it has happened at last. I am so happy of having a chapbook of my poems published in the US. It is a dream come true. It is almost a great act of hybris for somebody whose mother tongue is Italian, but who has dwelled in the English language since the age of 8 when she lived abroad for 5 years--in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates--attending American and International schools. I write poetry in Italian as well naturally but, I do believe that I write my best poems  in English. I hope this will not sound conceited. Honestly, I just look at some of my poems from this collection and think to myself that they make me proud. I guess I can say that a hint to how "good" one of the poems is came from a rejection that John Rosenwald, Co-editor of Beloit Poetry Journal mailed to me:

Dear Alessandra Bava,

At our quarterly editorial board meeting that concluded yesterday we spent considerable time discussing your work, especially "Never Thirty-Seven" and "Les Go…

Poetical Joys

I am writing again. I am so grateful the Muses are being kind with me. I have just completed a new chapbook and I am also working on new poems. Jack's biography is moving forward as well. It seems I just needed a break from a very, very heavy year. I have been feeding my soul with lots of books, movies and art, lately. I have met and friended many wonderful poets--Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion of 100 Thousand Poets for Change among them. There have been poetry readings. There will be more shortly. As I wait for John to be back in Rome in July, I can say life is good. Poetry too.

The lavender is blooming at last. Summer is here to stay!

An Afternoon of Women's Poetry

Heading to the Ninfeo of Villa Giulia for the second of a 2-day event on Women's Poetry, named Eros & Kairos. The first part of the afternoon will be dedicated to engaged poets: I am particularly curious to hear Maram al-Masri, a Syrian poetess, also a friend of Jack and Agneta Hirschman, and Duska Vrhovac from Serbia. Marco Cinque and Giuseppe Natale will be reading poetry and playing exceptional music, too. A poetry prize is being awarded in the end. And, I should meet up with a poet of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change as well. It should be a fine afternoon of Poetry! #poetryrules

Reading Today

I will be reading together with Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, co-founders of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and with many other poets--among them Marco Cinque, Massimiliano Damaggio and Edoardo Olmi of Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade--tonight. Paul Polansky, that I have met 3 years ago in Bologna, will be the guest poet. Giuseppe Natale and his amazing guitar and music will be there to make this event even more special.

It will be a reading in memory of 13 yo Andy Lopez, who was killed in October 2013 in Santa Rosa, California. It will be a reading against police brutality. But, and I am talking at a personal level, it will also be a reading in which I will question again the role of revolutionary poetry. The world needs more and more poets who are ready to protest via their lines and words, because poetry can truly touch the chords of people. Poetry can truly be a means to change what we don't like out there. Indeed, Poets have the Power!

Join us tonight if you are…

Jack Hirschman's "Mother"

It's Mother's Day, so I am posting Jack's poem "Mother." You may also hear him read it in the clip I am posting, which is an amazing experience. Jack's wife, Agneta, believes that this is the best poem he has ever written. I am pretty sure it's up there in his poetical pantheon.

You may read "Mother"  here.
Listen to "Mother" here

Jack in Rome

It was almost two years that I had not seen Jack. He was in Rome in  May 2012 for a couple of readings at the Circolo degli Artisti and at Chiccen. So, it was really a joy to spend a few hours with him last night. There are a few people I think I know as well as Jack. Writing his bio this is almost inevitable, but every time we meet  we end up chatting about us and about his life. He brought some great news from San Francisco. It looks like Ferlinghetti's biographer has managed to ask the great icon of the Beats the questions I wanted to ask him regarding Jack. I am indeed on cloud 9 for this.

Last night's reading was simply great. Jack was at his best and read some new poems too. "The Chaplin Arcane" was a pleasant surprise. And, he also read some of my favorite poems such as "Winter Solstice." He was accompanied by a great jazz orchestra, the TJO (Terni Jazz Orchestra) and the poetry and jazz interaction was simply great. I truly loved "Mother" …

Let's Talk About Writer's Block. Can You Help Me?

I have always smiled at the expression "writer's block," possibly because it is not  something I had to face in any serious way before. I thought writing would always flow naturally from my head and pen. But, in the past few weeks, it seems I am unable to write. Whatever poem I end up writing makes me shake my head. It seems I am wasting paper, time, energy and words. I know fighting it is possibly not the best cure and I wonder if there is a cure. So, if you happen to read this and you have a suggestion, please send it my way! Whatever works for somebody may not work for everyone, but I'd be happy to try. I want to #poem  for real, again. Thanks!

Frida Kahlo's Plaster Corset and Art

I headed to see Frida Kahlo's exhibit, today. It's not the first time I see her works "live." The first time was over 15 years ago. Just a few months before that exhibit, I remember walking into a bookstore and being attracted by a cover depicting a woman with a split open body showing a crumbling column and with her body pierced by nails. It was love at  first sight. From that moment onward I have read truly extensively about her life and art.

Her first exhibition in Rome boasted "Las dos Fridas," (The Two Fridas), one of her paintings I love most, but today's exhibit had an item that truly moved me: one of Frida's plaster corsets. Her art is always amazing to me. It's not about "Beauty," but it's rather about Feelings: it's about Anguish, Love and Strength. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but here below you may check some of the beauties I saw today.

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 & powe…

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...

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 Sevent…

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…

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.

On Poetry and Darkness: John Claude's Upcoming Book "Autumn in the Abyss"

I am so happy to announce that John Claude has a new upcoming book, Autumn in the Abyss, published by Omnium Gatherum.Among my friends I have many poets and poetry lovers and I cannot recommend this book enough to you since the novella--that gives the book its title--deals with poetry. John wrote the novella in Rome a couple of summers ago. One day I was reading to him about the mysterious disappearance into the woods of poet Lew Welch in 1971. This  triggered John to write what I truly consider one of his best works.

I am posting the blurb from the book here below, as well as its cover:

"When enigmatic poet Henry Coronado disappears six months after the New Year's Eve, 1959, Welcoming Chaos event, he takes with him a profound secret wrapped within the words of his poem, Autumn in the Abyss.

Fifty years later, an ill man's research into Coronado's work and life reveals that poetry can indeed change the world, or leave it in ruins.

The Word is a living thing...and often w…

Brevity in Poetry

I seldom write long poems and I have often questioned the reason why. I guess it is a matter of taste. The first poems I ever wrote were haiku poems. I have always been fascinated by Japanese poetry and the haiku form has always worked well for me. Being able to capture a mood, an image, a moment in just 3 lines is more difficult than one may think, especially if you are following the 5-7-5 syllable rule.

Brevity in poetry is compelling. I feel Emily Dickinson was the skillful master of the genre, despite the fact that she also wrote longer poems. Dickinson was able to convey so much in just a few lines. Sometimes in simply two!

#1127 Soft as the massacre of Suns by Evening's Sabres Slain
Even though I tend not to write as many haiku poems as I used to do once, every now and then "that agony returns." No, it's not really the Ancient Mariner's agony! It's more like a delight. I am glad whenever some editor picks up some. You may read 2 of my latest in "50…