Review of A New Way: The Poetry Of Migrant Writers in Italy
A New Map: The Poetry Of Migrant Writers in Italy Edit by Mia Lecomte and Luigi Bonaffini (Legas-2001)
This anthology is a bilingual edition of poetry by migrant writers living and working in Italy. These migrant writers hail from places like Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Romania, Holland, Brazil and Albania.
This excellent anthology is important in its potential to redefine Italian poetry. These poets are changing what constitutes an Italian voice.
In this anthology, there is a blending of different literary traditions such as the oral and the political. Here is Ndjock Ngana Yogo Ndjock’s “Lullaby”
The falconet nibbles
the baby sparrow nibbles
the owlet suffers hunger
momma will return and then I’ll eat
macbo and manioca
even without spices tia o tia o tia o
Tja o, tja o tja o tja
And here’s Pap Khouma’s “Absurd Ballad”:
because you could miss the best
part of the nigger hunt
knife in the back
and with not pity
this dirty Italian nigger who stinks
too much of macaroni
and never stays in his own place
Here is a blending of different languages such as this piece by Barbara Serdakowski’s, which mixes French and Spanish w/ Italian
Mi tempo se habia va perdido
My time was already lost
Yesterday when I knew today I would do that nothing
Et je creuse en termite dans les trous de l’inconscience
And I bore like a termite in the holes of unconsciousness
Here are poems of longing for the country of origin, of wonder about a different life such as this poem by Ubax Cristina Ali Farah:
“And I recall when you said that perhaps, the role of the Somalian
intellectual was not really suited for you, that you would have
fared better leading herds of camels in the North, in your
Here are poems about being in a new land such as “Sawson” by Thea Laitef:
She goes round the streets of Rome
hoping to discover the valley
reading how strange it is, this city
At the beginning
it has been down there,
under a tent of shining grief
then, the conflagration raged.
Ask the divinity for mercy,
Following the changes of the seasons
And let her steal onefrom thesummer
To bring it over to us later.
Here are poems about differences in sexual customs as this poem “Split” by Ubax Cristina Ali Farah whose father as Somali and mother Italian:
A nimble adolescent,
On the sand, among friends,
I fall down split.
Watch out you’ll tear yourself!
You’ll drip blood.Ceeh
I won’t find a husband
I’m not pure, closed , beautiful
Those little hanging lips
As this is a bilingual edition, one needs to talk a little about translating.
When one attends discussions on the art of translation, one hears the Italian saying traduttore – traditore: translator – traitor. For translation is not a simple swapping of one language to another. If it were just a simple swapping, then online translators would be putting professional translators out of business.
In the translation of poetry, there is always the question of what word conveys the very feeling, image or rhythm that the poet wants to convey. Here is an example of changing a word from the literal to a more idiomatic word conveys an image better by Gezim Hajdari translated by Michael Palma
“scende una neva lenta
dai nostril corpi”
An online translator may translate this as “a slow snow coming down from our bodies.”
Palma translates this as:
A gentle snow falls
From our bodies.
Palma’s translation better follows the feeling and rhythm of the original without the stiffness of a literal translation.
To my ear, the excellent translators like Bonaffini and poets / translators like Fagiani, Vitiello and Pallitto in this anthology do not betray the work of these migrant writers.
Posted on October 29, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged A New Way Poetry of Migrant Writers in Italy, aol.com, bing.com, google.com, https://vittoriarepetto.wordpress.com, italian american lesbian poet, italian american poet, lesbian poet, msn.com, Vittoria repetto. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.