Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

"Almanaco dello Specchio 2007" by Cucchi and Riccardi (eds) (Mondadori, 2007)

This Italian book has selected poems, essays on the year's trends and main publications, interviews, and bilingual sections on Paul Vangelist and Jamie McKendrick. There are also several retrospectives provoked by publication of "collected works" though Caproni (died 1990) is the most common point of reference (some essays of his were published in 2006). I find such books useful, but the Italian titles and publishers change, making them hard to track down - I also have "Annuario di Poesia 2000" (Crocetti Editore) and "Poesia 2005 Annuario" (Castelvecchi).

The Italians like their manifestos, their movements. John Picchione covered "Gruppo 63" and "Gruppo 70" in his "The New Avant-Garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices" (Univ of Toronto Press, 2004), mentioning their diversity of methods (e.g. Giuliani's work is studied in relation to Dylan Thomas, John Cage and Wittgenstein!) and intent (revolution vs normalisation, etc). It seems to me that discussion of Avant-Garde is less avoidable in Italy than in England, that there's more fluidity between theory and practise. "Almanacco dello specchio 2007" confirms these impressions. I've read the essays - there's nothing about the state of poetry, or the publishing world, or even the web, but their theoretical concerns are similar to ours. Anna Maria Carpi's work is described as "confessional poetry di taglio neocrepuscolare" (neo-Twilight - the Italian Twilight poets wrote in the early 20th century about the sadness and disappointment). They put Larkin's poetry into that category. Carpi uses autobiographical immediacy/authenticity combined with metrical forms. At the other extreme, "Fuoriformato" is a collection whose forward says that it involves "una poesia che non evada da se stessi soltanto verso la prosa ma che magari estremizzi le proprie componenti liriche, sino ad annichilirle" ("a poetry that escapes from itself not only towards prose, but even taking its own lyrical components to the extreme, as far as their annihilation"). Then there's Pagliarani, whose poetry is "piu performance che narrativa, piu prose kinema che realta, piu montaggio che ritmo".

They mention reactions to the domination of lyrical poetry. Interestingly there's a "movement disseminated in various parts of Italy that sparsely and without apparent connections returns to closed metrics, practised for very different motives ... the radical experimentation of the sonnets of Patrizia Valduga ... the transparent narratives of Airaghi".

I've only browsed through the poetry selections so far - they cover a range of poetry types, though here's less dialect poetry and ragged-left poetry than I expected. There aren't many non-rhyming box-shaped stanzas, or poems where all the stanzas are the same shape.

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