Patrizia Cavalli was born in Todi, Umbria, and now lives in Rome. She has published six collections of poetry: Le mie poesie non cambieranno il mondo (My Poems Won't Change the World); Il cielo (The Sky); Poesie 1974–1992 (Poems); L’io singolare proprio mio (The All Mine Singular I); Sempre aperto teatro (The Forever Open Theater); and Pigre divinità e pigra sorte (Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate). She has also published translations of Shakespeare and Molière.
Edited by Gini Alhadeff
Any hall she has ever read her poetry in is invariably filled to the gills. Women like her, girls like her, and men like her, too. In Italy, Patrizia Cavalli is as beloved as Wistawa Szymborska is in Poland, and if Italy were Japan she’d be designated a national treasure. The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said of Cavalli that she has written “the most intensely ‘ethical’ poetry in Italian literature of the twentieth century.” One could add that it is, easily, also the most sensual and comical. Though Cavalli has been widely translated into German, French, and Spanish, My Poems Won’t Change the World is her first substantial American anthology.
The book is made up of poems from Cavalli’s collections published by Einaudi from 1974 to 2006, now freshly translated by an illustrious group of American poets, some of them already familiar with her work: Mark Strand, Jorie Graham, Jonathan Galassi, Rosanna Warren, Geoffrey Brock, J. D. McClatchy, and David Shapiro. Gini Alhadeff’s translations, which make up half the book, are the result of a five-year collaboration with Cavalli.
This edition includes the original Italian language poems alongside the English translation.
“I've known this fascinating woman for forty years. Look at her closely: it's as if you were seeing Sappho in the flesh. Her simple, mysterious words are the lyrics to a stormy, romantic opera whose plot we half-intuit but never fully understand. This is the phenomenology of desire.”
“Like Emerson, Patrizia Cavalli says the same thing over and over, and each time it is amazingly fresh and surprising. The world does change, in the telling.”
“From the first time I read Patrizia Cavalli's work—over 20 years ago—I was struck by how fresh and original her poems were. No one else could weave so much humanity in so few lines—alternately funny, savage, heartbreaking, and painfully wise. She earns the rarest compliment for a poet—she is irresistible.”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux