Four Italian Poets: Laura Accerboni, Fabiano Alborghetti, Mia Lecomte, and Sabine Pascarelli

Laura Accerboni
Translated by George Tatge

Two poems from the unpublished collection, Playing the drowned/La parte dell’annegato.

Yesterday the tallest boy
put a stone
between his teeth
and began to chew.
He showed
his mother
what a mouth can do
when pushed to extremes
and that a ransacked home
is only a ransacked home.
Yesterday all the tallest boys
made their enemies starve
and quickly gathered up their toys.
They showed their mothers
the order
and discipline of the dead.
Then they ran
to wash their hands
and listen
to the news
in the form of a lullabies.

Ieri il bambino più alto
ha messo una pietra
tra i denti
e ha iniziato a masticare.
Ha dimostrato
a sua madre
ciò che una bocca può fare
se messa all’orlo
e che una casa distrutta
è solo una casa distrutta.
Ieri tutti i bambini più alti
hanno messo alla fame i nemici
e raccolto i loro giochi in fretta.
Hanno dimostrato alle madri
l’ordine
e la disciplina dei morti
poi sono corsi
a lavarsi le mani
e ad ascoltare
le notizie
in forma di ninnenanne.

****

We are interesting
people.
Our arms
and also our teeth,
every mark of resistance
holds something of interest.
And in the ground,
when we are inhabited
by tiny monsters
when nothing but smoke
sits in our sockets,
even then we are
incredibly interesting.
And we want
the grass
above our heads
to know it,
and death
to understand it,
along with the bird
that lives underneath us
with its irremediably
large beak.

Siamo persone
interessanti.
Le nostre braccia
lo sono
e anche i denti,
ogni segno di resistenza
ha qualcosa di interessante.
E nella terra,
quando siamo popolati
da piccoli mostri
quando le nostre orbite
non hanno che il fumo
seduto dentro,
anche allora siamo
incredibilmente interessanti.
E vogliamo
che l’erba
sopra la nostra testa
lo sappia,
che la morte
lo capisca
e anche l’uccello
che sotto di noi abita
con il suo enorme becco
senza rimedio.

Fabiano Alborghetti
Translated by Marco Sonzogni

Two cantos from Directory of the Vulnerable (Guernica Editions, Toronto, 2014, bilingual edition).

Canto 14

Then their son got lost, right in the square
where he had been standing in the crowd, there was a space
and nobody knew, nobody seemed to have seen

the t-shirt with violet stripes, the red hat on his head.
What do you understand about this fright she yelled in his face
what do you know of a mother’s pain, like an arm torn off

what do you know, she said to him again, about the most horrible thoughts
taking him by the shoulders, shaking him like a rag.
What do you know about the sacrifices

about the pain of giving birth, that tears your soul out
what do you know about touching you over months
and the space you take up, what can you know

you who know nothing; of how life changes and time
drifts away
and shrinks to nothing and as it disappears sucks you down

runs into each year that sees you changing.
What do you know you are a nothing
my life brings me to my knees every day

this life that you wreck just because you are here …
You don’t know how much effort it takes me to keep going
you don’t know that to have you, I have given up everything else

and now let’s go home that’s better
hold my hand tight and I will take you home.
Then she carried on, more calmly: every mother recalls

the Christ people talk about, but in fact it is that mother
who stays in the shadow and dies
who suffers the death of her child

unmoving at the foot of every hill…

Canto 14

Poi il figlio s’era perso, d’improvviso nella piazza
tra la gente nasce il vuoto dove prima stava in piedi:
e nessuno che sapesse, mai nessuno che abbia visto

la maglietta a righe viola, il cappello rosso in testa.
Che ne sai dello spavento gli gridava in pieno viso
che ne sai di quel dolore di una madre resa monca

che ne sai gli ripeteva delle ipotesi più infami
con le mani sulle spalle come merce lo scoteva.
Che ne sai delle rinunce

del dolore che nel parto ti divarica la fede
che ne sai del corpo a corpo che nei mesi si fa spazio
per lo spazio che reclami, che ne sai

che non sai niente: della vita come cambia e del tempo
che smarrisce
si restringe per sparire e sparendo ti risucchia

si travasa in ogni anno che ti vede diventare.
Che ne sai che non sei niente
la mia vita che frantuma genuflettere ogni giorno

quella vita che depredi perché tu ne sei presenza …
Tu non sai della fatica che comporta il proseguire
tu non sai che per averti ho rinunciato a tutto il resto

e rientriamo ora è meglio
tieni stretta la mia mano che ti guido fino a casa.
Proseguiva poi più calma: ogni madre è la memoria

di quel Cristo che si dice, ma nel fatto è quella madre
che nell’ombra resta e muore
che patisce la scomparsa

ferma ai piedi di ogni monte …

Canto 38

When these facts happen, the TV turns up
to take shots of the house
with a commentator in front, a microphone at his lips

as it were a prayer, muttering excitedly of developments in the event
then the round of interviews to establish these facts
and the passer-by stopped so he could say something

in the national interest, to turn up for three minutes
to explain at least a fact no matter how private
a precise anecdote

and they do the interviews inside the house, because that shows completely and clearly
because the comparison is innate with the family interior
and it doesn’t matter how or where, if it was in the street or on the doorstep

because what counts is the atmosphere to better understand the fact
and it doesn’t matter what the person interviewed knows
any fact is good enough to throw into the pot

even the sacred is dragged in the mud, even a mere nothing reported
and everyone draws conclusions far beyond those investigating
and everyone can colour their own version

and a special edition is transmitted at dinner-time and they keep on repeating
this question like a mantra: Has the murderess
confessed?
Comparing more answers

the secondary elements unexplained in the newspaper…

Canto 38

Quando accadono quei fatti ecco, appare la tivù
a riprendere la casa
con davanti chi commenta, il microfono alle labbra

come fosse una preghiera, sussurrare concitato gli sviluppi della cosa
poi la ridda di interviste per sapere di quei fatti
e il passante va fermato che ci dica un suo qualcosa

nella gloria nazionale, apparire in tre minuti
per spiegare almeno un fatto anche quello più privato
un aneddoto preciso

e si intervista dentro casa, perché mostra tutto e meglio
perché innato è il paragone con l’interno familiare
e non importa come o dove, se per strada o sul cancello

perché conta l’atmosfera per capire meglio il fatto
e non importa quanto fitto un contatto in confidenza
ogni fatto è buon mangime da gettare nella zuffa

anche il sacro fatto palta, anche un niente riportato
ed ognuno che arguisce superando gli inquirenti
ed ognuno costruisce ciò che afferma la versione

e si trasmette lo speciale giusto all’ora della cena e ripetono
per sempre la domanda resa mantra: l’assassina
ha confessato?
confrontando più risposte

gli elementi secondari non spiegati dal giornale …

Mia Lecomte
Translated by Brenda Porster

Two poems from the collection, For the Maintenance of Landscape. Selected poems (Guernica Editions, Toronto, 2012). Translated from Italian by Joanna Bishop and Brenda Porster.

Curtains

You write that down you find the lanterns again
at the seaside this autumn
I saw it myself
they were dragging stones on the beach
in a basket with a hole

outside the palms go on dying
one by one on the right
from where the pavement starts
across the street on the left
as though they were alive
only a few notice it
in their idea of reality
they stop

and the bag in the teapot is dying
the string chewed on by the cat
scrap paper in the school-bag
the overcoat doomed to its peg

For the apparent fellowship
of things

Sipario

Mi scrivi che laggiù ritrovi le luminarie

al mare quest’autunno
l’ho visto io stessa
trascinavano sassi sulla spiaggia
dentro a una sporta bucata

fuori vanno morendo le palme
una ad una a destra
dal marciapiede in fondo
sull’altro lato a sinistra
come se fossero vive
siamo in pochi ad accorgercene
in una loro idea di realtà
si fermano

e muore il sacchetto nella teiera
lo spago morsicato dal gatto
carta straccia nello zaino di scuola
il cappotto destinato al suo gancio

Per solidarietà di cose
apparente

Diploma

The little girl who writes poems
sits glowing in the last row
with all the ink
the crumbled eraser a hair-band
slipped off her blond the girl
tells us you know I write poems
and colors the glasses on her nose
swells her name with blushing feathers
frees grammars, a teeny
tiny miracle, frees the pain
laid out neat in her silk case
then she bends to tie the passage
four laces from the whole of fate
and so when she lifts her head
the little girl who wrote poems
is already another she forgets by now
to sharpen her pencil she smiles
her light dims she says no more
she doesn’t realize

Diploma

La bambina che scrive poesie
si accende tra gli ultimi banchi
con tutto l’inchiostro
la gomma sbriciolata un elastico
scivolato dal biondo la bambina
sai scrivo poesie ci dice
e colora gli occhiali sul naso
gonfia il nome con le piume arrossate
libera le grammatiche, un miracolo
piccino picciò, libera il dolore
in bell’ordine nell’astuccio di raso
poi si piega a allacciare il passaggio
quattro stringhe da un intero destino
e così quando rialza la testa
la bambina che scriveva poesie
è già un’altra si dimentica oramai
di affinare il suo lapis sorride
e spegnendosi non dice più oltre
non si accorge

Sabine Pascarelli
Translated by Sabine Pascarelli

Two poems from Ms Pascarelli’s forthcoming bilingual book of poems.

Dispassionate

I observe you while you peel an orange.
Your slender hand tears pieces of rind,
they fall down on the dish, the shock of
bright orange on porcelain white.

The singularity of this moment.
No music is playing.
The soft rhythm of our breathing moves
the air around us.

Where to route the focus of our minds?
Look how the shadows crawl in every
direction, how they invade the pastures
of our silence, surface, disappear.

Whatever we can’t mend between us
stays broken. No one coaxes or demurs.
I miss a place where to lay my head.

Tomorrow I will make a list
tell a story …….listen to the sound
of my own words …….be surprised
how they weave a path to walk on.

Spassionato

Ti osservo mentre sbucci un’arancia.
La tua mano minuta tira la scorza, la fa cadere
sul piatto, come uno shock, l’arancione
acceso sul bianco porcellana.

La singolarità del momento.
Non c’è musica.
Il morbido ritmo del nostro respiro
muove l’aria intorno a noi.

Dove indirizzare il fulcro delle nostre menti?
Guarda come le ombre strisciano in ogni
direzione, come invadono i pascoli
del nostro silenzio, affiorano, spariscono.

Ciò che non può essere riparato tra noi
rimane spezzato. Nessuno obietta o persuade.
Mi manca un posto dove poggiare la testa.

Domani farò una lista
racconterò una storia …….ascolterò il suono
delle mie parole …….sarò sorpresa
come tessono un sentiero sul quale
camminare.

Once you have lost someone, you know everything there is to know

I.

How sad sounds Beethoven’s Moonlight Serenade
tonight, recalling wheat fields eerily aglow in their
trance-like sleep, obsessed with the immensity
of blackness. Forgotten the sunny genesis, the primal
experience of incomparable beauty.
Answers are unknowable, relying on questions about
immortality beyond the descent of the moon’s pale
light sprawling over hedges. What to make
of the potential energy of this moment?

II.

I call this house my home. Nearly every object bears
a memory: on the lowest shelf between the open doors
of the shaky kitchen cupboard our sons once perched
like two lonely birds. The torn yellow towel with green
washed-out flowers connects me with Oma Eberle,
my first boyfriend’s grandmother who rarely spoke
and coveted to see us married. The four white mugs
with stylized flowers come from a now dead friend who
still visits me. Other people live through their recipes,
handwritten on faded notebook pages they are
messages for me through time and space.

III.

Nothing finishes. Don’t grieve, anything you lose
comes round in another form, says Rumi.
I have lost the umbrella of your love.
But look, the rain is not killing me.

Quando hai perso qualcuno, sai tutto quello che c’è da sapere

I.

Quanto è triste la Sonata al Chiaro di Luna stasera,
rammenta campi di grano sonnecchianti come in
trance in una luce inquietante, ossessionati da un’immensa
oscurità. Dimenticata la genesi solare, primaria esperienza
d’incomparabile bellezza.
Le inconoscibili risposte derivano da domande sull’immortalità
oltre il calare della pallida luce lunare che si affaccia dalle siepi.
Che fare dell’energia potenziale di questo momento?

II.

Chiamo queste stanze casa mia. Ogni oggetto ha una
storia: sulla mensola più bassa dell’armadietto
traballante di cucina erano appollaiati una volta
i nostri figli come due uccellini solitari.
Ormai sbiadito è l’asciugamano giallo con grandi fiori verdi,
un regalo di Oma Eberle, nonna del mio primo ragazzo
che raramente parlava e ambiva a vederci sposati.
Le quattro tazze bianche con fiori stilizzati provengono
dal mio amico, morto da tempo, che ancora mi visita.
Altre persone vivono attraverso le loro ricette. Scritte
a mano su fogli ingialliti sono messaggi che mi giungono
attraverso tempo e spazio.

III.

Niente ha mai fine. Non disperare, tutto ciò che perdi
ritorna a te sotto forma diversa, diceva il poeta Rumi.
Ho perso l’ombrello del tuo amore.
Ma vedi, la pioggia non mi uccide.

© Laura Accerboni, Fabiano Alborghetti, Mia Lecomte, Sabine Pascarelli, poets; George Tatge, Marco Sonzogni, Brenda Porster, translators

Laura Accerboni was born in Genova in 1985 and lives in Lugano. She graduated in Modern Literature at the University of Genoa. For the Edizioni del Leone she released the poetry book Attorno a ciò che non è stato (Achille Marazza Prize, Opera Prima, 2012). Her poems have been published in several literary reviews, including Italian Poetry Review, Poesia, Specchio della Stampa, Gradiva, Steve, CapoVerso and Nuova Corrente. Other poems will appear in Serta Review (UNED, Madrid). She won several literary awards, most recently the Piero Alinari 2011, 1st Prize for an unpublished poem (Fondazione Alinari in collaboration with the Giuseppe Ungaretti Chair, Columbia University, New York). Since 2006, she has been one of the organizers of the Percorsi Poetici event during the Festival Internazionale di Poesia in Genova. She curates the GENOVA-VOCI contemporary poetry festival for the Biblioteca Universitaria di Genova. She sits on the editorial committee of Steve poetry review. Her photography has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions.

George Tatge was born in Istanbul in 1951 of an Italian mother and American father. He lived in Europe and in the Middle East during most of his youth and studied English Literature at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he also began photography under the guidance of Hungarian photographer Michael Simon. In 1973, he moved to Italy where he worked in Rome as a journalist and then in Todi, Umbria, where he lived for 12 years working as a freelance photographer and writer (reviewing for Art Forum). His first book, Perugia terra vecchia terra nuova, was published by Studio RBP Monza in 1984. His photographs are exhibited around the world and can be found in major museum collections in the United States and Europe. He lives in Florence.

Fabiano Alborghetti was born in Italy in 1970  and lives in Canton Ticino (the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland). He has published a number of poetry books and his poetry has been translated into more than 10 languages. He promotes poetry in various venues, including radio, prisons, hospitals, schools, and universities. He collaborates with the Swiss Foundation “Sasso Corbaro for Medical Humanities.” He was awarded the Pro Helvetia Literary Grant in 2008 and 2014. On 1 January 2015 he was asked by the Mayor of the City of Lugano to give a speech and a poetry reading to the people of Lugano during the city’s official New Year ceremony. Thanks to the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs he has represented Switzerland at literary festivals and cultural events worldwide.

Marco Sonzogni is Senior Lecturer in Italian at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has been the recipient of several translation awards, including the Looren Translation Grant and the Pro Helvetia Translation Grant, in recognition of published translations as well as on the merits of ongoing translation projects of Swiss-Italian poetry into English, an annotated edition of the correspondence between Irma Brandeis and Gianfranco Contini and of John Millington Synge’s translation into Hiberno-English of 17 sonnets from Petrarch’s Canzoniere, an annotated edition of Seamus Heaney’s collected poems (1966-2013) in Italian translation. In 2013 and 2014, respectively, the governments of Italy and Poland bestowed on him the Order of Merit (Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito and Zasłużony Kulturze Gloria Artis) for services to culture.

Mia Lecomte splits her time between Rome and Paris. Poet, author of children’s books and plays. Among her most recent publications are Terra di risulta (La Vita Felice, 2009), Intanto il tempo (La Vita Felice, 2012), Come un pesce nel diluvio (Sinnos, 2008), and L’Altracittà (Sinnos, 2010). Her poems have been published in Italy and abroad, in magazines and anthologies, including Confluences poétiques (n.2, n.3, Mercure de France, 2007-2008), Italian Poets in Translation (John Cabot, University of Delaware, 2008), and Migrations: an Afro-Italian night of the poets (Bookcraft, 2013).  In 2012, Guernica Editions published her poetry anthology For the Maintenance of Landscape. She is the founding member of the International “Company of Women Poets” (Compagnia delle poete), a theatre group made up of foreign poets writing in Italian and living in Italy. She is a critic and editor in the field of comparative literature, focused especially on migration. She edited the anthologies Ai confini dei verso, Poesia della migrazione in italiano (Le Lettere, 2006) and Sempre ai confini del verso: Dispatri poetici in italiano (Chemins de tr@verse, 2011), and co-edited with Luigi Bonaffini A New Map: The Poetry of Migrant Writers in Italy (Legas, 2011), and she frequently lectures on this subject in Italy and other counties. She is on the editorial board of various journals and online literary sites, and she collaborates with the Italian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Brenda Porster, poet and translator, was born in the United States and lives in Florence. Her poems in both English and Italian have appeared in numerous literary magazines and poetry anthologies in Italy, France, India, and the United States. As a member of the Compagnia delle poete, a group of women poets who do multi-media poetry performances, she has recited her Italian poems throughout Italy and abroad. In 2013, she won the Italian Donna e poesia prize for her poem “Una lettera.” For many years official Italian-English translator for the literary site El-Ghibli, she has published translations of numerous contemporary Italian poets, as well as of Mario Luzi (in the volume Toscana Madre, 2004). Her translations of poems by Mia Lecomte are found, with others by J. Bishop, in For the Maintenance of Landscape (Toronto, 2012). She is currently at work on an anthology of English language women poets translated into Italian.

Sabine Pascarelli grew up in Germany where she earned a degree in German language and literature at Dortmund University. As well as poetry, she writes children’s books. Her poems have appeared in both English and Italian in literary journals: Only the Sea Keeps, Arabesque Review, Luna e l’Altro, Citra, Il Chiasso Largo, and La Recherche. She works as a translator in English, Italian, and German. The books that she has translated include The Alchemy of Grief (Bordighera Press) by Emily Ferrara, winner of the Bordighera Poetry Award 2007; The Poet’s Cookbook (Italian edition, 2009; German edition, 2010); Cosa Farei per Amore, poems in the voice of Mary Wollstonecraft by Grace Cavalieri (Forest Woods Media, 2013) and Repubblica (Toad Hall Press, 2013), by Dr. J. H. Beall. Sabine Pascarelli lives and works in Tuscany.

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3 thoughts on “Four Italian Poets: Laura Accerboni, Fabiano Alborghetti, Mia Lecomte, and Sabine Pascarelli”

  1. I am thrilled with this issue.

  2. me too- what is it abt the europeans- will read all these translations- dipping into them i sense the influence of the surrealists

  3. These Italian poets show a beautiful array of talent and perspective.A real contribution to the magazine.Thank you

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