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 MurguĂ­a, 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 stand alones and I am also trying to put together a longer collection of my poems in English. 

Why My Work is Different

I think one of the keys to understanding how my poetical brain works is taking into account that, given my job as a translator, I am constantly immersed in words. When I am not translating, I spend my day editing translations. Moreover, having attended American and English schools as a kid--at the times I was living in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates--I was exposed to the English language at a very early age. I naturally use my mother tongue too when I write poetry, but I have such an elective affinity with English, that I tend to write most of my poems in English anyway. It is a fascinating process to be able to use other languages in one's writings. I know English allows me to be more concise and to the point. Words are shorter and evocative in ways that help me to end my poems with a bang rather than a whimper. Or, so I believe at least! Italian, on the other hand, is a much more sensuous language demanding a greater verbal control on my part. This said, I let the English Muse or the Italian Muse do their job. They are pretty good and sisterly and each takes her turn without notice!

What I Write About

When it comes to my poetry, this is perhaps the hardest thing to pin down. Some of my poems spring from having read something that has left a true resonance. Some poems capture a moment. Some others revolve around a poet and/or artist whose life has somehow deeply affected me. Some poems are angry and inspired by social, ecological or political topics. I write mostly about life, death, love and anger and its many different variations. 

My Process

I am very ecletic when it comes to writing. It is literally anywhere and everywhere. I don't believe in having a writer's corner to concentrate so, even if I have a writer's den in the mezzanine upstairs, I do not write there all the time. There are a few spots in Rome that are particularly dear to me and where I often end up heading to when I am looking for inspiration, that is the Protestant Cemetery--where poets Keats, Shelley, Gregory Corso, Amelia Rosselli and many more are buried--and the Appian Way

Tag & Thanks

I'd love to hear from you: Nicole Ross Rollender, Fox Frazier-Foley and Jennifer MacBain-Stephens! Tell me about your writing process and thank you in advance for your time. Many thanks again to Juliet Cook, editor and poet extraordinaire, for inviting me to talk abour my writing!


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 who the poet is? What matters most: the Poet or the Poem? I probably won't come up with a definite answer anytime soon, but, I think the poem is what "will last." I asked my son what he thought about the issue and he told me he believes that the poem matters most, but he also added, don't forget it takes a poet to write a poem. How true!

P.S. I have decided to read some of the MEP aithors' poems at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event. I genuinely like their ideas. I am more than happy to lend them my voice. Poetry is not about ego, after all.