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Six Prose Poems.

And an Interview


Translated by Peter Robinson

Centerville, Iowa

‘The little that we children know are bare stems, vestiges.’
—Gigi Corazzol, Trentanove fonogrammi da Mel

What I write below is even more than what from direct tradition I know of his journey by sea and his stay at Centerville, Iowa. He took a ship from Le Havre, after pausing for some hours in Paris, where he’d seen great fat men intent on drinking beer in bistros. This is what struck him, of Paris, if he’d spoken to his son about it then, and our father had to us. He was called Bortolo Giovanni, but everyone called him Nani.

He reached Ellis Island on 23 March 1907, was twenty-two years and eleven months old, and perhaps even he, entering the port, with all that America before him, saw the great statue and said or thought: ‘How tall it is!’ There he remained for the time required to register, have medical tests, quarantine perhaps.

We recently found out that the transatlantic liner which took him to America was called La Provence, flew the French flag, was ultra-modern, launched from the ‘de Penhoet’ yards at St Nazaire only the year before. It measured over six-hundred feet, weighted more than thirteen thousand tons, reached a speed of 21 knots, transported as many as 1362 passengers, of whom 808 were third class. In the Passenger Records preserved in the Ellis Island Museum you can read the names of all those who took that voyage. Their cruising companions.

Adapted as an auxiliary for the French navy in 1914, and renamed Provence II, the vessel would be torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Mediterranean Sea. More than nine hundred souls lost. This occurred on 26 February 1916, but it’s highly improbable that grandpa came to know this. In February ’16 he had been back home for some time, had married Maria, had a child — who’d been given the name of his own father — and had left once more. This time for the Carso. The class of 1884 was called to arms on 24 October 1915, and in the Alpini of the Feltre barracks, on 11 November, Saint Martin’s Day, his name was picked as one of those destined for the front.

Centerville had to be a nowhere place, then, if even now it only has five thousand inhabitants, or slightly more. It’s not difficult to imagine the railroad, the few straight streets, the post office, the prison, the church, the Taylor school, the villa of Mary Drake Sturdivant, the governor’s daughter, and around, in the flatter plain, endless extents of maze and oats, some isolated farms, vast animal stockbreeding. There’s a river in the vicinity of the little town, the Chariton River, and six miles away a lake, Rathbun Lake. Who knows if occasionally grandpa will have gone swimming, to rid himself of the black smoke of the coal? Or perhaps he had seen someone fishing.

What today is Appanoose County belonged to the Sauk and Fox tribes. The Appanoose chief (whose name meant A chief when a child) went to Washington in 1840 as eloquent spokesman for his people. I don’t know what he got out of the politicians from whom, they say, he knew how to win respect. I know the pioneers will begin to settle in Iowa three years later. From Centerville the Mormons passed too, in 1846, journeying towards their promised land.

It’s possible some of the descendants of the Appanoose worked in Buffalo Bill’s circus that my grandpa saw one holiday, perhaps at Des Moines, the nearest city. Even the famous bison hunter came from those parts, he too being from Iowa.

And there will have been bars, at Centerville, or a saloon, or a barber’s shop open on Sundays. Grandpa was then in his twenties, was a good-looking man, some girls with braids and freckles will have certainly smiled in his direction.

In the coal mine, he wasn’t the only one to speak his dialect. One of his friends was Caco (Giacomo) Cecconello from Fonzaso, who ran the kitchen cabin. Caco had gone to America aged eighteen, in the autumn of 1904. My father tells me he had known Caco when he was old, had been to find him once with grandpa, at Fonzaso. My father also tells me Caco and his wife died on the same day, like Philemon and Baucis, or among us Olga and Capitano. Perhaps uncle Vincenzo, who was older than my father, knew other details of grandpa’s American sojourn. Why did we never ask him?

Returned home, four years after, grandpa did know some American words, like sanovagan (son of a gun), that doesn’t sound very different to fiol d’un can, or sanovabich (son of a bitch), which there’s no need to translate, but also technical terms, like the name for a block of stone from which coal is mined. And to say something was really delicious he would say it was fine dandy.

Now the old post, at number 100 West Maple, contains the historical museum. It seems there was a replica of the mine with the working equipment and the accoutrements of the miners. In the archive of the State Historical Society of Iowa City there is a register of all the Mine Workers of America between 1890 and 1981. Centerville was part of district number 13. Even here there’ll be some trace, maybe?

Along the Seine, I

At the Mantes-la-Jolie fair there’s country air, the prints of tractors on the muddy road, happy people dressed for the feast, the smell of cows and hens. The Seine is beautiful hereabouts, but it’s strange, you usually see it at Paris, and you find it hard to believe that it flows even elsewhere, even here.

We take a bit of a turn without speaking, together with Claude, and I think again of the film we saw yesterday evening, of the conversation in the country inn between Lamiral, the old painter, and his daughter Irène, modern and restless, who loves her father but not his painting. ‘I would lose my little music,’ says her father, to justify his refusal to follow the currents more in vogue, and his stubborn faith rather in himself, his reverence for the tradition, for its rules. Which is why the final scene of the film is so much more poignant, with Ladmiral who on Sunday evening, when everyone’s by now set off back to the city, left alone in the great house, climbs to his atelier, takes from his easel the traditional painting on which he was working, and sets up there a fresh canvas.

Along the Seine, II

Here at Conflans, I’d come to see the Seine and the Oise that, precisely, flow into each other, but more still to see the shipping cemetery, which I read about in an old article. Even this was a visit to check it out: the cemetery had to be in an arm of the river or a lateral canal.

Conflans is built of grey stone, and in the church square, in the town’s most eminent location, if you look out from the protective parapet you see the tugs and barges pass by with cargoes of coal and gravel. But today everything was grey, the houses, the water, the sky. There was a cold and damp wind, and you could sense the nearness of the sea. Then it started to rain.

At the confluence of the two rivers the mass of water is pretty impressive. I asked a fisherman which was the Seine and which the Oise. He replied murmuring two incomprehensible words. I asked him if he could tell me where the boat cemetery was. He directed me with a nod of the head.

I crossed the bridge and quickly saw the first wreck. I went on for a bit, but it was raining more heavily. I took some photographs, protecting the Pentax with my umbrella. Nothing much would come out; the lighting conditions weren’t good.

I’d pictured it differently, this boat cemetery. The image I’d had was of a calm, rocking growing-old, among aged companions of the road all equally retired. I’d not seen anything other than rotten timbers and rusty keels. And not a trace of that barge with the name that speaks so: Destinée. But the article was from ’51, and too much time had passed since then. To check it out? You wish.

For Nadia

Memory focuses, but it’s not really in focus, on a tram-stop.

Is it possibly that one in Piazza Lega Lombarda, near to the Arena?

And is it possible that before, in the afternoon, we were in Fulvia and Silvano’s milk bar?

Rosina was still living, of this, yes, I’m sure.

But look, at the tram-stop, we’re there, ready to go back home.

And it’s her, who’s got off and keeping us company. Nadia.

She was already going to middle school. And me, it’s the first time I see how the bigger girls are made.


But there’s another memory, perhaps from earlier.

That one of a picnic on the grass, in Via Hermada, near our home.

It’s in the middle-school part, going up on the left, where now there’s the underground carparks.

I don’t see him now, but my brother he’ll certainly have been there, we were always together, almost like Siamese twins.

And then there’s grandpa, sitting on a checkered, Scottish-style blanket.

I don’t see all my grandpa, I see his leg stretched on the meadow, maybe the one he broke a while back, when they ran him down in Via Fulvio Testi, coming out of Pirelli.

And it’s her, on her feet. She’s taller and bigger than us. Nadia.

The San Rossore Swallows

‘But dad, why are there so many swallows here?’

‘Because there are so many flies.’

‘And why are there so many flies?’

‘Because there are so many horses in the stalls and stables.’

‘But do the horses like the flies?’

‘Certainly not. The flies really irritate them, as they do us. That’s why they have a tail to chase away the flies.’

‘Then the flies don’t like the swallows …’

The swallows are certainly greedy for flies, and if they don’t see them about, then they fly where they see horses or cows or buffaloes, because they know that there, there will be flies too.’

‘So they’re cunning, the swallows …’

‘Cunning? I don’t know, it’s because they’re really crazy for flies.’

‘But are the horses happy about the swallows?’

‘We’d have to ask them, but I think so. After all, they carry off so many flies.’

‘And when summer’s over and the swallows go, what do the horses do with all those flies?’

‘They’ve still got their tails, as I’ve already told you. But then, when the swallows migrate, the horses don’t need their tails, because there aren’t flies either anymore. Have you ever seen flies in winter?’

‘So where do the flies go in winter?’

‘They go far away.’

I Remember / Je me Souviens

(in the style of Joe Brainard and of Georges Perec)

I remember when I asked my father if he remembered the first time he shaved and he said yes, the first of September 1939, which was also the day the Second World War broke out, and I thought, really good day to become a man.

     I remember the day my father told me that the eyes don’t age, because that day I learned you continue to see the world with first-time eyes.

     I remember when my mother on her deathbed said an old aunt of hers would say even dying’s hard work, and then added, but how long does this routine have to go on?

     I remember when my daughter was born, I couldn’t not think that one day even she … (redacted), but I was happy all the same, very happy on that day.

With the Words

Replies to a Non-Imaginary Interview

‘My intention is only my intention
and the work is the work.’

—Paul Valéry, Tel quel

 A poem of Gottfried Benn’s, entitled Worte (Words), begins with these two lines: ‘Allein: du mit den Worten / and das ist wirklich allein’ (Alone: you with the words / and that is really alone). Yes, when we write we are alone, and the words are truly all that we have. If we can do something, it’s only with the words. That’s why I try to write poetry, which is a special language, not a common language, using as far as I can everybody’s words.

Whatever the temperature is then or, as others say, the voltage of the individual words, the important thing is that in a text you test them like a flow of current. To stay with the metaphor, it’s always and only the verbal electricity (phonic, rhythmic, metrical, syntactical …) that allows the words set in line (in the horizontal or vertical) to become what we recognize as a poem.

One becomes a poet or a writer above all because one has read, from youth, and has been infected with the virus of words. All of us begin to know and to love (or else to hate, who knows) poetry at school, or even before, listening to the parents or the grandparents reciting nursery rhymes and lullabies. Then, growing up and reading, there are those who acquire, or don’t lose but refine, a particular sensibility for the words and desire to imitate what the grown-ups do, and in particular those people obsessed by language who are the writers. I had the fortune to come into the world in a house full of books and to have a good teacher called Occhipinti: she was young and made us learn by heart many poems by poets then alive, Ungaretti, Sinisgalli, Palazzeschi, Quasimodo. She also told us that in Via Conservatorio, in Milan, we could even meet him, this Quasimodo (five or six years earlier he had won the Nobel Prize). At school, poets’ words were part of normality, of daily life. We read the poems and, as was the custom then, made paraphrases or translations into prose, a practice by many justly criticized, but which constituted the first form of a critical approach. My career in the poetry field began as a public speaker. A tradition in my elementary school was to recite poetry broadcast by means of the loudspeaker in all the classrooms. A pupil would be called to recite, only one, from every class. This meant that in the various classes we would have eliminations. In the end I was called up as the voice of my class by the administration, not without emotion, to recite at the microphone the poetry of that year: ‘San Martino’ (Saint Martin) by Carducci, ‘Nebbia’ (Fog) by Pascoli, ‘Rio Bo’ (River Bo) by Palazzeschi, ‘A mio padre’ (To my Father) by Sbarbaro.

It’s obvious that an apprenticeship is indispensable. Someone (Carlo Cattaneo) has said that to become a writer requires three things: reading, and then reading, and then more reading. It also requires trying to write, and rewriting, and crossing out, and then perhaps throwing away everything and starting again. And it’s very important to find someone who will listen to us. As for my apprenticeship, it was long. Of what I wrote from boyhood, around fifteen or sixteen years old, I remember little. But I do remember that in a poem from my senior school days, to say that I was an unhappy teenager I spoke of a leaden sky. Just like that: leaden. Even in my university years I wrote something, learned poems, or pseudo-learned, in the style of Borges. I remember one entitled ‘Caesar’s Melancholy at Cadiz’ (the source was Suetonius’ Life of Caesar). Then I destroyed them all, or almost. In the early Eighties I also wrote some short prose pieces, which instead I then recovered in part and included in Replica. But it was only after I had got my degree and moved to Zurich that I began to write seriously, that’s to say with the idea of publishing some day or other. In 1989 I had written some stories, in the spring of 1990 I wrote about sixty poems, most of them short, and before the summer I had them read by Giorgo Orelli, who I’d known for some years. Orelli encouraged me. From his delicate suggestions and from reading his own poetry and his ‘verbal questions’ I learned a great deal. Moreover, I believe I’ve been helped to understand what poetry really is by Joseph Brodsky’s books, in particular some of his critical essays or seminars on poets that he loved. But what made me rediscover the way of poetry, after many years of also disorganized reading, of getting lost and false starts, was above all a chapbook that a friend of mine gave me one day in Milan: it was the 1976 La stanza la stizza l’astuzia (The room the annoyance the cunning) by Toti Scialoja. The ‘poems with animals’ by Scialoja (painter, as well as poet) were distracting, regenerating, but what struck me most was Antonio Porta’s preface. There he recalls an anecdote about W. H. Auden. When meeting a young aspirant poet, Auden would ask him if he liked nursery rhymes. If the young person didn’t know what to reply, he would be graciously bid farewell, and instead the conversation would continue in cases where the reply had been: ‘Yes, very much, and you too?’ Auden would want them to share the idea of the importance of a certain ‘sensibility to the music of language, of “elementary” poetic language that is expressed for example in a nursey rhyme or in a so-called little popular song; otherwise, how could one possibly think of something else?’ After having read that preface, it seemed to me I had understood what I would have to do. I said to myself: begin again from nursery rhymes, then eventually I’ll think of something else. With Parabole smorzate I began again. With Replica, I replied.

I would leave aside abstract debates and say this: poetry is an artistic form of expression, a verbal art. Its materials are words, the same that the likes of us use to communicate in everyday life. Even if poetry is a strange language, special, in which the form, I put it like this to simplify, is no less important than the content, indeed the two components are inseparable and consubstantial. I’m talking about knowing how to produce, with the words, a verbal object which gives us satisfaction and is interesting or moving for readers. A part of the work is done by these same words, which require certain pairings and refuse others. Another part of the work we do ourselves, when we search after joining the words together paying attention to the sound and the sense, so as to obtain a certain effect. For the final part the collaboration of readers, of both sexes, is required. Poetry is something that one shares, and every reader enriches the text. It can happen that some interpretations were not foreseen, but they are equally legitimate, allowed by the text and together surprising. Other times they are rather delirious, in the etymological sense, that’s to say, they go out of the furrow.

Everything is possible and desirable; the important thing is that the result has quality. Usually one starts from a clot of words or from one or more images, or else there’s a crossover between the words, perhaps of others, heard or read, and our emotions or sensations, immediate or fixed in memory. Perhaps best to exemplify. One of the latest poems I have written (‘Madrigal for A’) evokes on the page an experience from many years ago, resurfaced when reading a text by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. In another case I could cite, that of the poem from Replica called ‘Anni Settanta’ (‘The Seventies’), the triggering element was the rereading of a passage by Manzoni, and to be precise from his Notizie storiche sul Conte di Carmagnola. In my poem we’re dealing with the revocation of an autobiographical episode, which centres upon an act of violence of which I was the victim when a boy, at the time of the ‘anni di piombo’ (the leaden years). It’s an episode that I had spoken of many times, down the decades, but only with the reading of those words by Manzoni was it imposed upon me as something that wanted and needed to be written.

Poetic language is more concentrated, more integrated, and also for reasons of meter and rhythm obliged to renounce certain words or induced happily to favour others. But it’s not a given that prose needs to be less rich in significance or easier to write. It depends on the type of prose, and who writes it. It’s rather that sometimes things are better enabled in verse and other times they prefer to dispose themselves in lines without endings. To give an example, picking up the theme of the poem I spoke of earlier, ‘The Seventies’. I recently happened to have to present Replica at the high school in Lugano, and for that occasion I went back to write, this time in prose, about that same episode. The story that resulted is longer, more detailed, although it doesn’t completely overlap with the poem, which is concentrated on various other details. It’s like saying that, when one writes, even on the same subject, in part we guide the words that we ourselves want, in part we are to go where they want. It’s a fascinating thing: writing, one discovers things about which one hadn’t thought.

Little sparks can provoke large fires. Already Dante has said: ‘Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda’ (After tiny spark great flame). Certainly, a good part of this comes about on the page or the computer screen. It can happen that a text discovers its satisfying form almost immediately, other times instead it may be necessary to labour at length, and beyond the file the hammer and nail get used. Other times still the spark, if we want to continue using this image, doesn’t set anything alight and all finishes in effectively nothing at all or a doodle.

Artifice doesn’t need to be understood in a negative sense, unless it is too apparent, and so draws the readers’ attention too much to itself. Leopardi and many others before and after him have spoken of naturalness as the height of art, in the sense that art has to know how to hide itself. As to authenticity, I don’t exactly know what to say. In the nineteenth century they spoke much of the ‘sincerity’ of the artist. In the twentieth Pessoa reminded us rather that the artist pretends, and that ‘to express oneself is to say what one did not feel.’ I don’t have a great love of this type of debate. I prefer to think of poetry as a series of words tied together by a sense and by a rhythm, and that, corresponding more or less with a ‘truth’, they communicate something, they make us feel, reflect and remember; in the best of cases, they impose on the memory of readers, men and women, and they accompany it for a stretch of their life. A few days ago, a friend of mine said to me that she retains in her wallet a photocopy of one of my poems. Maybe, who knows, she interprets it in a way different from how I myself intended when I wrote it, still it doesn’t matter: if the poem speaks to her and moves her or it is of comfort to her, what more can there be to desire?

I have to say, boasting a bit, that I very much like the title Replica, exactly because it has various senses in various languages (in particular I’m thinking of Italian and English). One of these senses is traceable to the ‘Centerville, Iowa’ narrative, that reconstructs from fragments the history of the American sojourn of my paternal grandfather; others are suggested by the epigraphs and citations that I’ve seeded here and there. Some there are who have told me they’ve discovered six possible senses. I’d say there can be at least a couple more. But I would leave them to be discovered by the patient readers; it’s more entertaining, isn’t it? The one sense I consider illegitimate, I’d even say illegal, is that of ‘counterfeit copy’ that is exemplified in the expression ‘Rolex Replica’ or similar, which clutter up our electronic inboxes along with other unwanted messages.

The line of Dante’s to be found as an epigraph (‘Or qui t’ammira in ciò ch’io ti replico’ – ‘Now marvel here at what I repeat to you’) is drawn from Canto VI of the Paradiso, and has the function of suggesting, among other things, that Replica is a second book, after Parabole smorzate, in which there is something new and something different with regard to the first book, of which it is also the continuation. One is always in dialogue with someone, in literature, and it doesn’t matter that they are contemporaries or classics, or both together. Being in dialogue means also resuming our speech and that of the other where it was interrupted, to continue, contradict or to parody it. Repetition, in the sense of an identical copy, would have no sense, wouldn’t even be possible (there’s that wonderful story by Borges on this theme: ‘Pierre Menard, Author of “Quixote”’). The replica, rather, as I mean it, is another thing, and has rather the sense of ‘reply’. Even the Parabole smorzate were kinds of reply: in that case, the metaphor was that of the tennis-player who responds with a certain type of hard base line or down the line shot of the adversary.

I wanted there to be in the book some ‘changes of gear’, some changes of rhythm, and the prose, alternated with the poetry, had exactly this aim. The presence of prose texts within a collection of poetry is not after all a novelty, and there’s no need to name illustrious predecessors. In my case, I would say that an element of interest consists in this, that the prose pieces are rather narrative in character, and not, as one would perhaps expect, some poèmes en prose. But, if then one goes and checks, in some short proses or fragments of stories there is a rhythm not very far from that of the texts in verse.

It would be too good if everyone were able to read the texts so as to gather all their hidden beauties. To be sincere, the judgment that counts more, for one who writes, is that of fellow men and women writers: it is from them that one awaits recognition. This doesn’t mean to say that I’m not interested in hearing the reactions of critics and plain readers. Actually, my ambition is really to write something that gives pleasure to people who are not professionally involved in literature (and I would not underestimate their capacity to respond to poetry) and to be appreciated by connoisseurs who are more expert and shrewd.

I very much like to explain others’ poems to my students, and I think I know how to do it fairly well, thanks to my personal experience as a writer. To explain my own poems, beyond being indelicate, would seem to me a little boring and pedantic. It’s true that Saba wrote the Storia e cronistoria of [his] Canzoniere, but Saba had, well, a large and unhappy ego. That said, on the occasion of public readings I usually relate something, to introduce the poem, for the benefit of those who maybe don’t have the text under their eyes. But without entering too much into technical details, you understand.

I would not talk of ‘communicative power’, rather of the natural desire to communicate, even if in literature, and in even greater measure in the field of poetry, much is founded on the relation between the said and the unsaid. In some cases, for example speaking of disturbing historical facts, such as those alluded to in the poem called ‘Promemoria da un luogo di betulle’, discretion and reserve prevent us from being too explicit. I wouldn’t know how to say if something particular has led me to this being open to prose and dialogue. Over the years I wrote some verses and some prose narratives, and at a certain point I felt that one could put them together to make a cohesive book. The mixture of poetry and prose, for that matter, has a long tradition in the twentieth century, the Italian one too. And one of the books that has undoubtedly counted a lot for me, since I was twenty, when the decisive readings of it took place, was El Hacedor by Jorge Luis Borges, which is exactly a prose-verse combination. But with regard to my proses, I can confess that some pieces from Replica are the fruit of my admiration for writers like the Meneghello of Pomo pero, the Bufalino of Museo d’ombra, the Parise of Sillabari. The ideal would be to arrive at theatre and stories, or the novel, without losing the expressive density that connotes poetic language. I think of the ingenious path through the literary genres completed in his time by Manzoni. Naturally, Manzoni is a giant; all of us in comparison are midgets.

What the importance of the poetic versions within a collection entitled Replica might be seems to me evident. It involves saying again in our own manner things already said by others that please us. If you like, it’s even a way of playing ‘hide-and-seek’, exactly, by concealing oneself behind the words of others. Flurin Spescha was my contemporary, and I knew him personally. He was also a university companion of my wife’s, at Zurich, and I had read with interest his first publications. His sudden death, like that of other friends too soon departed, struck me very forcefully, as did that poem ‘Anatomia’ in his posthumous volume, so I wanted to translate it to remember him. As for the presence of the Latin translation of one of my poems already included in Parabole smorzate – this too is a form of ‘replica’, isn’t it?–, I can do no more than repeat as much as I’ve already written in the end note to the book. I wanted to pay homage to my father, who – vying with the fine German translations of some of my poems made by Christoph Ferber –, entertained himself by putting into Latin (and improving!) some ten of my texts. My father is a very cultured man of great reserve. The few things he has published I am always obliged to go and look for in the most recessed parts of his book collections. From his long poem in hexameters, entitled De numeris, and published in 1966 in Latinitas, I had taken a line (Silva fuit, nunc rara manent dumeta vepresque) which I took as a departure point to write a little joke on the baldness that we share (it can be read in Parabole smorzate). Now the reply goes in the opposite direction: from Italian into Latin, receding in time. It’s nice to think of belonging to Latin literature, even if beyond the disqualifying time. But it’s not the first time that things of this kind have occurred. Without disturbing Petrarch, who had translated into Latin a story of Boccaccio’s, I recall that Fernando Bandini translated Montale’s ‘La bufera’ into Latin, and that Montale appreciated the version by Bandini so much that he wanted to include it in the second edition of his Quaderno di traduzioni. The literary tradition is everything: it’s what we set out from and what we would wish to arrive at, in the sense that the most honest ambition in one who writes is to enter and play a part in universal literature, be it even with a single poem or a single memorable line. The tradition is in the first place that connected to one’s own language, and us Italian speakers are fortunate because we can read Dante’s Commedia in the original and, to arrive at the present, the poetry of Zanzotto or of Giorgio Orelli. But, within the limits of acquaintance, linguistic too, of everyone, it’s clear that literature is something universal, it is a ‘heritage of humanity’, as one would perhaps say in the offices of UNESCO. We can hope to draw from the most disparate sources. A poet that I am attempting to study intently at the moment, for example, is Seamus Heaney. And it pleases me that in his latest volume, recently published, District and Circle, there are poems and proses. We’re in good company, then. 

PIETRO DE MARCHI was born in Seregno, Milan, in 1958, and has recently retired after a career teaching Italian language and literature at universities in Zurich, Neuchâtel, and Berne. A widely published critic and editor of scholarly editions, he is the author of various volumes of imaginative prose and poetry. Among his collections of poetry is La carta delle arance (The Oranges’ Paper), which won the Gottfried Keller Prize in 2016. Reports after the Fire: Selected Poems translated by Peter Robinson, which doesn’t include any of the texts published here, appeared from Shearsman Books in 2022.


PETER ROBINSON is the author of many books of poems, translations, prose fiction and literary criticism. Shearsman Books published his Collected Poems 1976-2016 in 2017 and The Personal Art: Essays, Reviews & MemoirsPeter Robinson: A Portrait of his Work, a collection of essays and a bibliography edited by Tom Phillips. His many translations of Italian poetry include The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (2007) which was awarded the John Florio Prize. His publications in The Fortnightly Review, where he helps edit poetry, can be found here.

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