Also in this issue.

Poetry from Australia

Poetry from Canada

Poetry from Greece

Poetry from Lithuania

Poetry from South America

Poetry from the U.S.

Poetry from Vietnam

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More poets and translations in:

Fall 2001

Summer 2001

Spring 2001

Winter 2000

Summer 2000

Fall 2000

Spring 2000

Poetry from Europe - Winter 2001


Bartolo Cattafi was a poet who flourished in the very lively post-war Italian cultural scene, but who has not been much translated into English. He was born in Barcellona, near Messina in Sicily, in 1922. Inevitably he had to serve in the war, but was a very reluctant soldier. After the war he graduated in law and settled in Milan, where he worked in industry, publishing and journalism. He travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, and his travels were paralleled by a spiritual odyssey, continually seeking some sense in life. In 1967 he returned to his roots in Sicily, where he remained until his death from cancer in March 1979. Although Cattafi was a Sicilian, he was regarded in the '50s as one of three poets called the linea lombarda — the others being Luciano Erba and Nelo Risi. This group were part of the “Hermetic Revival” which was concerned to maintain continuity with the poetry of the hermetic tradition, in which, according to the critic Anceschi, “objects (were) intensified and charged to such an extent as to turn the language into a symbol with some references to reality and familiar situations.” Though poetry was often a spare time activity for Cattafi, he was very prolific and successful. In 1959 he was awarded the prestigious literary prize, the Premio Cittadella. There is an unexplained gap from January 1963 to February 1971 when he seems to have written nothing, and in 1974 and 1975 he wrote no new poetry, but spent a lot of time editing his papers. After his death a considerable quantity of work, largely unpublished, was collated in collaboration with his wife, Ada, by Giovanni Raboni, and a collection of over 300 poems was published in 1990.

Brian ColeBrian Cole was born in Southampton, England in 1932 and has spent his adult life near London. After studying French and German at Oxford University he followed a career in business as a senior executive in three multi-national groups. After retirement he set up an accountancy practice, which traded until 2000, after which he started Brindin Press (see our feature)— with a website which celebrates poetry in translation — http//www.brindin.com. In 1994 his first published work was a translation of Pablo Neruda's The Captain's Verses, published by Anvil Press in London and reprinted four times. In 2000 Arc Publications in Todmorden, England published Anthracite, a selection of translations from the Italian of Bartolo Cattafi — this collection was awarded the accolade “Recommended Translation” by the Poetry Book Society in London. In August 2001 Brindin Press published his translations of Circe Maia under the title Yesterday a Eucalyptus, which was also chosen Recommended Translation by the Poetry Book Society, and awarded a translation prize by the British Centre for Literary Translation. A selection of his Neruda and Cattafi translations are included in this issue.

Alison CroggonAlison Croggon is one of a new generation of Australian poets which emerged in the 1990s. She writes in many genres. Her first book of poems, This is the Stone, won the 1991 Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore Prizes. Her novel Navigatio, published by Black Pepper Press, was highly commended in the 1995 Australian/Vogel literary awards and is being translated for publication in France. Her second book of poems, The Blue Gate, was released in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Poetry Prize. A chapbook, Mnemosyne, was just published by Wild Honey Press. Penguin Books Australia will also bring out her first novel for young adults, The Gift, in 2002. Alison has written and had performed nine works for theatre. Her theatre work includes the operas Gauguin and The Burrow, both with Michael Smetanin, and the plays Lenz (Melbourne Festival 1996), Samarkand and The Famine. Many of her poems have been set to music by various composers, including Smetanin, Christine McCombe, and Margaret Legge-Wilkinson. Recently she was the 2000 Australia Council writer in residence at Cambridge University, UK. She was poetry editor for Overland Extra (1992), Modern Writing (1992-1994) and Voices (1996) and founding editor of the literary arts journal Masthead. She is represented in this issue by poetry, two essays on the poetic and the erotic, and her translations of Rilke.

Robert DesnosRobert Desnos was born in 1900 and is considered one of the great French poets of the 20th century. Breton praised him for his “necessary, unforgettable role” in the development of Surrealism. Desnos broke with the Surrealist movement in 1930 and moved toward a more public art: writing film scenarios, children's books, and working for French radio. During World War II, he was active in the Resistance and worked as a journalist. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, he was sent to Buchenwald. He died in 1945 in the camp in Terezine, Czechoslovakia, shortly after the camp had been liberated.

Kevin GermainKevin Germain is an American poet, musician, composer and Sufi. He studied music composition at Berklee College of Music and has had music published with Edizoni Berbén in Italy. He performs on the classical guitar and traditional Greek and Turkish instruments. His original poetry has been included in the New Romantics chapbook as well as on their web site. He is currently working on a book of translations of the French poet Albert Samain. Kevin lives with his wife and daughter in Easthampton Massachusetts.

Rainer Maria RilkeRainer Maria Rilke is considered the greatest lyric German poet of the 20th century. He was born on December 4, 1875 in Prague. A trip of Russia in his early twenties was pivotal in his development, as were the years he spent as Rodin's personal secretary in Paris. The translations in this issue are from his Duino Elegies, most of which were completed, along with his equally acclaimed Sonnets to Orpheus, within the month of February, 1922. Amond his other books were The Book of Hours, The Book of Pictures, New Poems, Requiem, and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He died of leukemia in Switzerland on December 29, 1926.

Albert SamainAlbert Samain, 1858-1900, was born at Lille, France. He helped found Mercure de France (1890). His books included Au jardin de l'infante (1893), L'Urne Penchée (1897), Aux Flancs du Vase(1898), Polyphèm(1899), and Le Chariot d'or(1901). His poems first appeared in Rodolphe Salis's Chat Noir (1884-85). While he eschewed belonging to any particular group, he is usually associated with the second wave of French symbolists after Verlaine & Mallarmé. He never married, but spent most of his life in drudgery, and his escape was in the imagination captured by his verse.

Todd Sanders is a poet and graphic designer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His translation of Robert Desnos' The Secret Book for Youki contains poems that have never previously been translated into English. Sanders has previously published two books of his own poetry with Air and Nothingness Press, as well as another book of translations of the poetry of Desnos, The Circle and the Star (see our feature). He is also the founder and publisher of two websites. The Library features biographies and works from most of the great French surrealists, as well as others. This site was chosen “The Best American Web Site About French Culture” by the French Embassy. Sanders has recently started an online center for Gidean studies featuring works, commentary and biography of the famous French writer, Andre Gide.