HOW2
translation
Introductory Remarks about this section:
This section will feature contemporary poetry -- and accompanying poetics / essay / journal writing, when possible -- translated into English from other languages. If you are translating work, please propose your ideas to our on-going translation coordinator: Cole Swenson, <[email protected]>

featuring poems by Patrizia Vicinelli
Translated by Carla Billitteri

Translator's Note

Patrizia Vicinelli (1943-91) joined the predominantly male avant-garde Group '63 at the La Spezia Congress in 1966. She was previously involved in the experimental theatre of Aldo Braibanti and first published her poetry in EX, a magazine of  multimedia and experimental arts edited by Emilio Villa.

Published in Italian cutting-edge literary magazines (EX, Quindici, Marcatrè, AlfaBeta), Vicinelli was active in the field of visual poetry and sound poetry. She exhibited her visual poetry at the Finch College Museum New York (1972); Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Torino (1973) and Bologna (1974); Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Tokyo (1976); Biennale di Venezia (1978); Italian Poetry 1960-1980, San Francisco (1982); and Spazio Suono Viareggio (1984). Her albums of poetry collaborations include: .à.A, Futura and Baobab.

Her books posthumously collected in Opere (1994) include: Altre prose, .à.A (1967), a mix of sound poetry and phonetic poetry; Non sempre ricordano (1978), an epic poem;  Apology of schizoid woman (1979), experimental poetry; and I fondamenti dell'essere, Messmer (1980-1988), a novel.

Vicinelli's poetry challenges the reader with a stunning combination of multisemantic, asyntactical playfulness and witty polyglottism, often presenting a seamless interweaving of five languages (Spanish, English, Italian, French, Hebrew), different Italian regional dialects, street jargons and local idiolects.Vicinelli is bitter, satirical, pervasively political, but also melodramatic, fascinated by the urban mythologies of W. S. Burroughs' junky underworld as well as by the arcane quest for the Holy Grail, and by Greek archetypes and marginal cultures.

 

 


 

Poems:

Domani Abba (Tomorrow Abba)

I Will Not Return

Not Always Remembered

 


 

Domani Abbe (Tomorrow Abba)

Friday domani abba
abb a do mani yes he said
and he says yes, it was something between inside and you
rather the world and myself and yourself
abba, dors, maintenant,
abba do mani he
said the sculpture ahj,
come m'endorme exquisido, como
iaculatoria, abb a do
mani, yes, sleep now,
what matters the world between me and youc'entra c'en tra
the evangel of languages
idiomes èvangèliques elle dit abba do
main no to day after the world
now the world
surrounded in the present ab ba he says
yes como me gusta el mundo says
me deca decame, en nel mundo
abba in and out within and without

(1988)

 


 

 

I will not return

I will not return.
Over the bridges in flames
in the summer
the moon shines
shine
striped narrow shoes
to
be seen on
gelid deserted squares
in the winter their neglect
of time could indicate
a fair beginning
but under this climate sense
its scarcity
I promised
I will never return there.
I go against
and stand up
right against
the furnace abyss
what a hiccup
from singular approaching
to have it
conditioned in the mind
the broken time
the used up time
we are on loan
now.
The solitary night adumbrates
this sound that is already
twentieth century
what are the little pearls doing
adorning
us who sweat
from every pore sadness
what pattern
of relentless spots.
There would be another course
to follow
long difficult impervious
swallowing
to send
down
saliva
bile
morsels
that sometimes happen
they happen sometimes.
Low key notes all of them
abysmal deteriorated
the air is scorching
when it burns you
the bitter sun in black.
Brooches fissures
chaplet
sour the sandal incense rises
every
one stands up
like flowers in line
in their ascension the height
in extending
in unfolding.

in- sack

                        in-side

                                                in-stride

                                                                                    in-volved

                                                                        "I AM INTERPENETRATED"

logique de la mame

                                                                        (la mame n'a pas de logique)

let's have an in-terview
come on,
let's suck up this

                                                                        panful of béchamel

disruptive in-segunto
daundi                                                       RUMP, o, o, o
                                                                 JUM                       (P) o, o, o,
                                                                 STRI                            kes.
                                                                  =                    linkage with the superior)

 

                   

                    e     

              g       t   

           n             e

        i                    r

     t                         n

   n                              i                                                   IN-terview

 a                                   t                                  AH             OH       AAHH

p                                       y              

                      

                          

                        evv                          porr                          stronn

                                                                                                ecstasy

                                                                                    IT COMES SUDDENLY

                                                                                                                  in its dream

à cul de sac.

(1986)

 


 

 

Not Always Remembered

[Epic Poem]

                        For my father Giorgio    (1978)

Part Seven

"H is my life"

"An historic intermission"

The first time was in Florence, and it remained the last. The blood
then was clear
beating on the heart never tried
few the adepts and the scared neophytes
to find out and catch the sense.
In the dark house, so underground,
the light is on even during the day
the windows are covered with oriental curtains
and barred, a basement, made for
fugitives, he said, dearly bought,
reassuring architectonic frame,
Mitteleuropean, the Polish man added,
sweating in the soaked bed twelve hours
uninterrupted "my legs, señor,
my legs!" are you sleeping?
ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING? A stinking agony,
in the known castling dust
on the mirror on the walls blotches
of cappuccino up to the ceiling, but
champagne in the fridge, caviar from Ostia
sandwich prosciutto, thanks, crudo,
thanks tramezzini
I AM NOT HUNGRY
I AM NOT HUNGRY
I AM NOT HUNGRY

They all wanted to go there, away
from the blotches on the foul mattresses
of sweat and blood, this judgment we
pass conformed to the apocalypse,
enough she said centering a point of silence
the perfect absence emitting a cry
that was heard up in the skies
like a successful meditation
Oh, lord, want you buy me a color tv . . .
chant d'amour
genet knows it
I want to fall into the sun
so that not a trace will be left
the deepest motivations, yes,
of love.
"I will tell everything" in the crystal cup
I keep the pearls I want to give you.
The formula goes like that: open door
beyond the shadows' reign.
(he was full like a stuffed pig)
he had thought of keeping it all for himself .
In the ice, got there with the idea
of sailing, a kite is enough
for that, he was a man
who had forgotten his origins
ran only after his desires,
like Egyptians led by a dolphin
on the barge of the snake with the egg
at the prow, in the gelid waters of the river
subterranean with golden makeup on the mind,
the dream that had revealed to him the dead
to remember.
"NO PRIVILEGES," he would have liked
more consistent signs
"do not step back" the girl said
to Orpheus, but what sacred mountain,
Elizabeth Queen condemned many
this year as well:
HOW NOT TO BE SAVED? he thought, wishing
to dilate his pupils to see
his image leaning against the images
of some remote time with worn out borders
when an eclipse swallowed
that abnormal thought
of his selves or him self
that chased each other endlessly
he saw HIS CONTOURS DISTENDING
"we must go" said the friend
"let's continue"
they came in to have coffee
and he corrected himself saying "hail mary oh"
to that woman who overheard him
and stopped in her walk, etc.
"NO, big dick of a knight"
They arrived in Jerusalem when it was
hardly daylight
(in the ruinous midst of the falling of a thousand towers,
while on the other side or nearby
Babel remained intact and shouting).
It was an epic transition.
His mother would have liked a mercy
more generous but from the body it died
to the soul to hope itself,
Marcel who sustained her, recorded everything
and stored the stories in the safe,
but who did not try to elevate
their own god myths some as
they tried to escape when it happened
in others sitting in a circle on the remains of fire
in a round grove
where already many were killed
wafts the taste of vengeance
and of treason.
In the slow osmosis that prefigured
a long trip,
even by climbing he
did not manage to progress,
she shouted, soaked in blood and sherry:
"DON'T YOU HAVE ENOUGH OF IT?"
many heard her, slaves Aslatians Moors
full of borgogne, Tyroleses camping,
of unsurpassable cleanness
card players with loaded guns
EMBRACE OR I WILL SHOOT THE SEVEN SHOTS
I HAVE LEFT."
It was such a great reunion, like
another time at the corner of the desert,
drunken sailors hamlet and marylin
and others who will return outside
memory of their resplendent passage
we were and are pursued by a herd
of those who want to know at any cost
and will never know
oh, heaven! with the refrain of light
that slides every morning from my window
on the world,
I looked at it incandescent reborn.
He let it go down hoping the putrefaction
was over, he set off.
Over yonder there's some people who never dreamt
I will tell everything everything if there's need
(do not torture me, officer, I do not know anything
I do not know anything, I will not speak, will not speak)
"do we need hot water?"
"we need salt"
"do we need incense,?"
"DO WE NEED a good runner?"
In the meanwhile some others had woken up
for this appointment everybody remembered.
He tried again in vain to transcend the circumstances
knowing the inevitability of a certain ending
another step almost dance moved him
faking forward
and sucked him backward
as by a potent trumpet of iron.
elusive rays descended
invading the plane of elements
some cried some did not
many procreated between one ring and another
of the trunk marked
their passage each for themselves,
then a chant began
and insinuated itself, carried by the echo of that absence
of sounds that favors it tripping
only on the metallic barrier
that out of spite was building
a solitary walker lover
of something in particular.
Purple plums, and by chance purple violets
fell to his feet,
specific meaning that color for his mind
and the sweet smell like boiled sugar
and perfumed jasmine
invaded his space, surrounded him.
He met with winners and losers, whose aim
was to tell what had happened.
"if I do not fall asleep thinks the soldier,
I could be anywhere."
He placed himself waiting certain he could enter
in some other reality more qualified.
The circle, so that the fact could yield good results,
was not easy to build, after all
the presence of a slave para-ionic
was indispensable, and that time
was not missing: he ought to unveil everything
or otherwise . . .
He too, in a desolate world, AFTER
a war of avarice and privilege,
dragged a woman, the only one left
by her blond hair, toward the goal.
WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH YOUR BREAD, MONSIGNOR,
AT THIS POINT?
ANCHOVIES AND SALMON WANTS SAINT GEORGE
TO KILL THE DRAGON AND SAVE
THE PEOPLE FROM THE PLAGUE.
Yet, beyond the cableway, Joe Nab
shines in a gilded palace.
His women laugh and are pregnant,
they have little shoes of lunar metal.
If I ever enter there I want to be king, of myself
champion.
Remain awake
the blind the crippled the gluttons
play soccer
DO NOT HELP THEMSELVES AT ALL, ONE ENORMOUS
WITH A CLOAK, who already made the pass
from year to year, governs,
EVERYONE IS HEARD DECLARING THE NEED
OF UNIVERSE.
From the knight, refreshed by a fountain nearby,
a nightmare escaped and the knight was really glad.
He said: "if I find a sword I can free
the earth from the magic of THE DOUBLE."
"DUB-FACE he said it is not good for you."
It goes without saying that swords were no longer made;
but there was one in Sidney in a safe.
It is always possible to find somebody ON COMMISSION
who is willing to do SUCH A JOB.
The appointment was founded on the tendency
of some to go there.
"this time we can make it" said
many, with the feeling of participating
in an arcane alchemic process
frenzy and excessive credulity,
the spring of their action.
To many questions, clear answers in such manner
revolutions were put in motion,
and with the same method they were halted.
Still a light sense of triumph wafted
slightly inhibited,
amongst the examiners and the examinee.
The meteorological angels, municipal policemen and
garbage collectors, confounded ideas
with a precise design signaling
non-existent reasons of inattention
but the moment gravitated of truth and urgency.
Savages gathered with nonchalance small pebbles
from the foaming soil and hid them.
Some bikers around the Bavarian
patisserie suddenly touched their tights
and delicate points around the groins
and transcended in libidinous acts.
At first nobody noticed.
Nobody could have anticipated it, they
all thought afterward.
Even some skaters with pink-and-white tutus
were suddenly tired
of that hobby
disrobed themselves and threw their
costumes in round holes dug for the occasion
that led to the water
into which the skaters immersed themselves, naked.
(Resurfaced hissing immediately young sirens
of pricey songs to the sailors who will be
ship-wrecked.)
All at once a sorrowful lament provoked a
pervasive sadness. LIKE IT HAPPENS WITH
ONE WHO HAS JUST REALIZED.
IT TOOK ONLY A MOMENT.
That smile idiotic and stereotyped so
fashionable in California and then all over the world
took its place again on those large stupefied faces.
"what we want to see is the king!",
they cried (on the wrong track)
'what we want to know is God!"
they threatened "we want everything!"
"who am I?"
these were some of the most widespread slogans.
Famous actors artists musicians poets
and a few architects of museums, a few
owners of old cemeteries
had turn up to get the news
they wanted to be updated.
Well, the auction of the spies combined
with the necklaces and flags provoked
some commotion, the green striped spy
of two hundred kilos was sold to a breaker
of horses together with a small jazz orchestra
from Manhattan.
In order to go live in Texas, watch
some corrida, eat roast beef Indian-style
sodapopcorn sitting at night in a drive-in
the spy who had lived as lady companion,
exx-ceppt-ional!!
"PEACE, BOYS, PEACE! WE HAVE STUDIED
THIS JUST FOR YOU! TO GIVE YOU
A GOOD TIME!!!"
If he had announced "our creation" perhaps
they would have felt disoriented. But not
the chelsea boys, however full of vitamins
of astral taste as advertised,
made to compute algebra and profit
they only cared about staying in New York.
"to arrive to the central point the point
within the point" you could read this slogan
on black bomber jackets with shining studs.
"IF I WERE TO ASK YOU WHERE IS OUR CULTURE,
WHERE IS IT?" said the top ten single of that day.
More to follow.

 


BIO: Carla Billitteri teaches in the English Department of  the University of Maine, Orono. She has recently edited, translated and introduced the Italian section of 99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium, published in Boundary2, Spring 1999. Her other translations of contemporary Italian poetry have appeared in Rif/t; I am a Child: Poetry After Robert Duncan and Bruce Andrews (Buffalo: Tailspin Press, 1995) and Private Arts.

 

Cole Swenson -- Translation Coordinator

Cole Swenson is a poet and translator of contemporary French poetry. Her translation of Olivier Cadiot's Art Poetic was published this year by Sun & Moon Press. Recent volumes of her own work include Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999) and Noon (Sun & Moon Press, 1997). She currently directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver.

 

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