Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Italian Poetry "joyous puzzlement"
I am not unbiased about Aufgabe Magazine- as a way of disclaimer I was the guest editor on Aufgabe 6 and I edited the Brazil Section so I am invested in the journal. If this level of intimacy bothers you click out and don't read my comments.
Aufgabe is a magazine that has noble pretensions. Apart from Circumference and Mandorla few magazines in the United States have any interest in the world of poetry or prose outside of our shores- Aufgabe is a breath of fresh global air.
Aufgabe 7 Featuring a section on Emerging Italian writing is the best issue yet produced. I am going to concentrate in this blogpost on the Italian section mostly because I find it so interesting. The section is edited by Jennifer Scappettone, a professor at our own University of Chicago and a fine poet in her own right. While Jen's poetry can be interesting her work here in Aufgabe is really unique and important.
In her opening essay she uses the term "Joyous Puzzlement" but it is clear in her essay that that puzzlement has led to recognition of a poetry that is at best unknown in the United States. Scappettone has created for contemporary experimental Italian poetry a context that perhaps will lead to presses translating these fine works and exposing them to the poetic class in this country and also among the English Speaking peoples. Perhaps one of the things to come out of Scappettone's work will be a renewed dialogue among the poets of the Italian diaspora in the Americas- of which Scappettone and myself are a part- and Italian innovative poets whose work does not get the pages it should in its home country?
Scappettone's editorial choices are really interesting- she has older poets like Andrea Zanzotto who represents a profound localism and the use of dialects and also Amelia Rosselli, who ranks with the greatest poets of the 20th century in any language. Scappettone also includes postmodernists like Gherardo Bortolotti and Marco Giovenale whose work would be winning prizes and plaudits if it were published in the United States for its exciting innovation.
The issue as a whole gives the reader a taste of what is going on in Italy and for those of us who read Italian it is a pleasure to see the beautiful language played out in its original and in its English translation on the page. Most American poets know nothing about Italian or any other global poetics I hope that I can shame them into buying this magazine expanding their minds a bit?
The Poetry section of Aufgabe 7 is reliably interesting.
There are new poems by Sarah Mangold and Jennifer Chapis along with two poems by the late kari edwards which makes one want to morn more for her loss. There is real depth in this section and it is a good introduction what is happening poetically in allot of place. The review section has some interesting stuff include a review of Kenning Editions publication of Hannah Weiner's open house which Patrick Durgin edited. If you don't have this Weiner book then shame on you. There is also an essay by Danish poet Pia Tafdrup on the Medellin poetry conference that is illuminating.
More often than not poets in the USA do not read enough- if you need a book for the beach this summer or to read on the train- Aufgabe 7 gives you the reason to stop watching baseball for a little while and read something filled with joyous puzzlement.