Luigi Fontanella



Translations by various hands
Edited by Irene Marchegiani
Introduction by Dante Della Terza


Paperback, 234 pages
ISBN 0-9725271-3-3

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LUIGI FONTANELLA, born in Salerno, Italy, earned a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University and taught at Columbia, Princeton and Wellesley. He is currently Professor of Italian at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Founder and President of the Italian Poetry Society of America, he is the editor of Gradiva, an international journal of Italian and Italian-American poetry. He has published ten collections of poetry, two books of fiction and seven books of literary criticism.

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"Luigi Fontanella's poems are very much in the tradition of what post-Montalean modern Italian verse has come to mean. His search for modernity is twofold: trying to bring the idiom of poetry as close to everyday language—whether written or spoken, journalistic or literary—as possible; and to objectify one's feelings and thoughts through a profuse multiplicity of details and impressions concerning the world of everyday reality. Whereas verbal experimentalism—often taking the form of an astute play on words or the use of technical, scientific words and phrases—is the consequence of the first aim, the consequence of the second is a kind of subtly camouflaged autobiography in verse and a search for personal identity."

~ G. Singh

"There's a great freedom of forms and intonations in Luigi Fontanella's poetry He doesn't take a strong formal stand; his poetry entertains moments of nearly proselike colloquial narrative along with moments of powerful lyrical tension. There is a movement of extremes, from powerful tonality to near atonality, and I like this a great deal; it's a stance that very effectively catches the spirit that makes work in poetry possible nowadays."

~ Giovanni Raboni

"Luigi Fontanella moves between countries as an Italian who has lived in the United States for many years but returns very often to his native land. In this collection, he draws on his experience in both countries, and he is also forever moving between past and future, between those people and places of the present and future by whom and in which he will perhaps be best remembered. Fontanella's poetry is rooted in both a profound critical awareness of the labor of poetry, and a wide embrace of life's labors—and joys, all of which merge in his 'pure azur memory.'"

~ Rebecca J. West

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Per Pascal D'Angelo
e per tutti gli italiani emigrati in America

Questi luoghi sono stati i vostri cammini,
quelle lotte-speranze i nostri dolori,
diverso il mare visto dalla riva
da quello visto dentro un bastimento.

Questi luoghi sono stati i vostri mulini
a vento. Non fummo noi a fare quel viaggio:
fu lui a portarci lontano, quando in chi viaggia
lontano e vicino scompaiono.

Questi luoghi sono stati i nostri respiri,
l'estraneo ch'è in noi cancellò ogni sorte,
ogni Macondo. Il falso esilio di oggi
una coorte di sogni dentro e fuori il nostro mondo.

Questi luoghi sono stati i nostri mattini.
La città galleggiante non vi interessò
ma solo il cuore diviso fra l'appena passato
e un futuro presente solo nella mente.

Questi luoghi sono stati i nostri destini,
voi che seguiste il cammino del sole
ignari di ciò che vi avrebbe aspettato, a cominciare
dal nome irrimediabilmente storpiato.

Questi luoghi ci sono ormai dentro e vicini,
qui dove tutto e nulla avrebbe rimescolato
le carte del gioco e del bisogno, trasformato
in un coacervo l'inganno, la nostalgia, il sogno.

For Pascal D'Angelo
and for all the Italian immigrants in America

These places have been your pathways,
those struggle-hopes our pains,
seen from the shore the ocean is different
than when seen from a boat.

These places have been your windmills.
We didn't go on that voyage:
it took us away, when for the traveler
the near and the far disappear.

These places have been our sighs,
the stranger in us canceled every fate,
every Macondo. Today's false exile
is a cohort of dreams within and without our world.

These places have been our mornings.
The floating city did not interest you
but only the heart divided between the recent past
and a future present only in the mind.

These places have been our destinies,
you, who followed the path of the sun,
unaware of what was awaiting you, starting
from a name hopelessly mispronounced.

Today these places are inside us and near,
here where everything and nothing would mix
the cards of game and need, transformed
into a pile of deceit, nostalgia, dream.

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