At last, we have a complete translation of the very original and independent poetry of Alfredo de Palchi who has had quite an influence on American poetry as Editor-in-Chief of Chelsea Literary Review;
as translator and publisher of many Italian poets into English for digestion here in America;
Trustee of the Sonia Raiziss Giop Foundation that has done much to promote poetry and translation in America, and as founder of the Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Awards at the Academy of American Poets, as well as an accomplished poet who has lived in America and written in Italian to be translated into four volumes of poetry, Sessions with My Analyst, The Scorpions Dark Dance, (1993), Anonymous Constellation (1997), and Addictive Aversions (1999).
These collections are now selected and included with some new poems, in one bi-lingual compendium of 541 pages of his poetic output, translated by six accomplished poets and translators.
His terse lyricism created out of syntactical boldness, semantic leaps, fierce self-scrutiny, and dissonant tones ranges from sarcasm to erotic glorification as he covers the span of his experiences from the horrors of war and carnage, imprisonment in Italy and torture, when very young by Fascist and then by Communists; the search for sexual satisfaction and love, the search for one’s own integrity, and finally the mockery that death makes of all.
He uses biology and geology as well as astronomy to make his passionate points. His lyricism is original in style, offering an energetic voice that leaps forth with vivid imagery throughout this volume of gritty and sensuous sensibility.
The poems are successful in English, though fully powerful in Italian. This volume offers the opportunity to compare the Italian originals across from their adept translations. It contains a bibliography of many critical essays on the poet, as well as biographical notes on the six highly credentialed translators who have rendered his work into lyrical English.
We discover a wide range of emotions within these poems. Richly provocative, steaming with the anger of injustice and deeply erotic and sensual, De Palchi’s poetry seems effortless in its varied attributes. He brings the truth of science to bear within his dark view of human behavior. His portrayal of the human condition and his place in it as an “anonymous constellation” shows him to have a humble intellect that struggles fiercely against the injustices and self-destructive nature of humanity’s inhumanity.
Though his subject matter uses his own experiences from his impoverished, fatherless childhood and his suffering during World War II, there is no self-pity or sentimentalizing herein. As the poet writes: “What patience it takes/ to listen to the groans of small minds:/ obscene chorus of businessmen, bullish/ heads buried in little hats: a scene/ of cretins so solemn/ you have to laugh— /no, I leap at beauty even in the abstract/ beyond that rotting of bloodless flesh,/ and still I find the world/ on its kneeling–stool: disaster— howls/ guns— money— weaponry.” A quote apt for our era of Wall St. debauchery and religious wars fueled by weapons dealers’ profiteering ambitions, as the planet heats up beyond the endurance of all life, and we listen to “the groans of small minds.”
This book is well worth reading for its original lyricism, fierce sense of injustice, and passionate search for integrity.
Daniela Gioseffi, American Book Award winning author of 16 books of poetry and prose, New York City. January 6, 2014