Nota a
di Antonella Zagaroli

la Scheda del libro

Alfredo de Palchi

Why Antonella Zagaroli

In 1970, a few people asked the translator, I. L. Salomon, what had induced him to translate and publish a volume entitled Sessions with My Analyst. He promptly replied: "This work issued by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore in 1967 is the best and the most original poetry for years to come "This was the straightforward answer from the translator of three previous books by Carlo Betocchi, Dino Campana, and Mario Luzi. It is the reply that I myself give every time that I am asked why a particular author has attracted my attention.

The specific reasons for questioning I. L. Salomon in Florence were that well-known run-of-the-mill poets had dismissed the work without reading it and that the author was completely unknown.

This kind of judgment is still practiced everywhere in the provincial literary world. In that false world, scarecrow-like, self-declared "poets," harboring the illusion that they can scare off timid sparrows, print their flaccid verses and become aggressive birds of prey who have the power of anointing this or that nonentity.

While I myself rarely use the term "poet," these windbags, inflated by mostly dishonest critics, herald themselves as the "poets" of an ever-new avant-garde. But what avant-garde do they mean? One made up of their journalistic verse? They grossly mistake their flat static language for movement and vitality. They are mere failures Making my own discourse fiery and furious, these homunculi show me their true, dumbfounded, idiotic faces when they inform me — a small publisher of Italian poetry in translation — that they also write and are better than the poets whom I am publishing.

Their second mistake lies in presuming that my intentions are corrupt like theirs. Let me be clear about this: I am an independent publisher, do not ask for money, and require neither the author nor the translator to acquire copies. I alone decide to publish a selection of poetry from a poet's entire output.

The poetry of the chosen poet must impress me with his or her language and style: it must be poetry that does not repeat itself poem after poem, and I want it to be in constant movement like life itself. Simply stated, if poetry does not move it is not poetry. A static mental state is for writers who have nothing to draw up from inside themselves, not even a hint of the life they have experienced.

In North America, we are faced with the same narrow vision typical of modem and oantemporary poetry in translation. The few Americans who have a knowledge of the Italian language are all too rarely commissioned by literary magazines to introduce Italian poets in translation; but when they are, they mistakenly base their selection on anthologies edited by hacks whose first choices, among those selected be included in the anthology, are themseh-es or on gatherings put together by impresarios who are merely interested in making a show of their power over weaker talents.

Anyone can verify this by perusing the issue of the magazine Poetry ("Italian Poetry Since World War II," October—November 1989), as well as more recent issues of the same Poetry journal edited by Geoffrey Brock, December 2007, and the TriQuarterly Review, edited by Robert Pogue• Harrison and Sisan Stewart. Although these issues include a few worthwhile names, most of the others were much ridiculed by many American readers being limp and longwinded. With this assessment I agree.

Nothing changes, no matter what period we consider: the worn-out reiteration of the kind of Italian poetry that is made with a learned, precious. mindless, he-artless, gutless, legless language. Unfortunately, this remains the constant standard. Those who have other visions and the courage to aviaki this tradition know that they will be excluded by those who hold the reins of literary power in Italy and in North America.

This is a long-overdue explanation. It has been written out of necessity by the charitable small publisher of Italian poetry in translation that I am. k is valid for all past and future authors whom I have selected or will select for publication; and for the author of this volume, Mindskin, Antonella Zagaroli.

New York, 2011

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