New at Sibila: Scappettone on Rosselli, Corbett on Eigner
Half a century after the searching start — across and between tongues — of her uncompromising poetic practice, the poet Amelia Rosselli has emerged in global literary discussions as exemplary: as both prophetic and crucially contemporary. She has come to occupy a prominent position in literary history as one of the twentieth century’s most significant and demanding poets of the Italian language and beyond, with a body of work that concretizes in its agitation the postwar era’s fallout and bequest. Her books of poetry and recently collected prose are testaments to a uniquely multiform sincerity, and to a fiendishly restless mind, synthesizing a literary tradition that stretches from the thirteenth-century dolce stil novo through Rimbaud, Campana, Kafka, Joyce, and Pasternak with the frankness of the news. The daughter of an assassinated hero of the Italian Resistance who spent her childhood and adolescence in exile between France, England, and the United States before settling in Rome, Rosselli is esteemed for the idiolect she forged to voice the aftermath of this experience while resisting both the confessional first person dominating mainstream poetry during the years of her production and the aesthetic conformities of vanguardist schools. Self-described “poeta della ricerca” (“poet of research”), she regarded poetry as a sphere of activity exceeding the narcissistic gamut of self-expression and constraint of genteel intellectualism: language in Rosselli’s handling is a site of innovation with imperative philosophical and political consequences. Never mere linguistic exercise, her writing launches explicit and implicit structural assaults on the authority of traditional poetic forms, as well as the social and cognitive forms that gave rise to them.
“Larry Eigner, An Advertisement”: Bill Corbett on the Larry Eigner collected poems, edited by Robert Grenier and Curtis Faville.
Others will look at this book up close and write critical articles about Eigner’s poetry and what Grenier and Faville have given us. I feel no need to do that because their achievement seems an act living in the future. I have had these books for two months and still cannot measure how far I am “up” their height. Eigner for me has never been a poet I can spend hours of time with. I like to open these books at random and read until my head is filled with his poems, and I have enough to think about until I get the urge to open one of the books again. For me his poems read like one long poem, and Eigner is, with Philip Whalen, one of America’s supreme poets of consciousness. James Schuyler is another, but he did not, as Eigner and Whalen did, catch the pass Olson threw downfield. Eigner and Whalen did, and they are great in the open field.