Agostino Contò

The Merchant of Masks:
Poems 1974 — 2019

Translated by Gregory Conti





Bilingual format, 231 pages.
ISBN 978-1-7329940-0-3, $20.


Author Biography
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Available through Small Press Distribution



The Merchant of Masks contains 62 poems selected from five collections spanning 1974 — 2019: Trilogie con Dedica / Trilogies with Dedication; Oh, Ah; Ella; Pin Pin; Musici, Guitti / Players, Mummers; and Vacanze / Vacations.

Agostino Contò, friend of books and classical culture, captures the classic in the everyday and the everyday in the classic by means of plain speech. The gentlemen and ladies at court, the pursuant lover, the tourists all speak the same language as they seek answers amid players, mummers and masks. This book can be read almost as a mystery novel.

AGOSTINO CONTÒ was born in Treviso in 1953. He has lived for many years in Verona, where he works as a librarian, specializing in the history of rare books.

In his creative writing he uses various linguistic codes and genres with particular attention to the material aspects of the poetic works. In 1979, together with Arrigo Lora Totino and Franco Verdi, he formed the Trio Phoesia for the execution of musical poetry.

Contò's poetry has been published in many reviews, anthologies and volumes, including Trilogie con dedica (Forli, 1974), Per S. (Treviso, 1974), Oh, Ah (Torino, 1975 and Ella (Gallarate, 1978). His fictional works include Ofelia e le mosche (Treviso, 1978), Informe e manoscritto (Treviso, 1980) and Storie di Pra' Longhi (Verona, 2016).


TRANSLATOR GREGORY CONTI was born and raised in Pittsburgh and educated at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Yale Law School. He has lived in Perugia since 1985 where he has taught English at the university. He has translated fiction, essays and poetry, including works by Rosetta Loy, Emilio Lussu, Sebastiano Basalli, Paolo Rumiz, Elisa Biagini and, most recently, The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stephano Mancuso. Conti is a regular contributor to Raritan, the Rugers University literary quarterly.



From The Merchant of Masks


Poet Agostino Contò




Un tempo ero anch'io mascherato
ma dietro il mio mistero

stavano le cose
le cose una per una
messe lì in mostra a muovere
brani della mia vita
anche cose non mie
cose trovato per caso

cose legate ai miei fili più segreti
più nascosti


Once I too was masked
but behind my mystery
there were things
things one by one
put there on display to move
fragments of my life
even things not mine
things found by chance
things tied to my most secret threads
the most hidden


appena si arriva
bisogna lasciare i bagagli all'ingresso
salire per la scala a chiocciola
aprire le gelosie che danno sul terrazzo
fa già buio,
l'Acropoli sta lì, ci illumina
senza parole


soon as you arrive
you need to leave your bags by the entrance
go up the spiral stair
open the shutters that look out on the terrace
it's already dark
the Acropolis is there, illuminating us


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