Two Poems

Edoardo Sanguineti
Translated from the Italian by Will Schutt

[during a rather dreary, and, at times, abstractly theoretical evening conversation]during a rather dreary, and, at times, abstractly theoretical evening conversation(I don't recall the particulars now), I felt we were markedby a mortal moral disease:                                                            I had been talking about the degradationof everyday privacy: (and I should have been more insistent about our havinglet ourselves go like this, crushed between the pathetic and vulgar,locked in the deformed bourgeois experience):                                                                                                        maybe I exaggerate: yet something'samiss, even in the way we carry ourselves (see how you're sitting, for example,at this moment): as well as when I tell you about young Goethein Leipzig badgering everyone to find out what exactly Erfahrung was,that thing they all said he lacked:                                                                          (and how an officer on leave answered him): [I live like a mouse]I live like a mouse: (a real mouse): (that nibbles crusts): (with its toughgums): (and these days digest this 1700s plateau that ranges, I don't know,from Restif to Rousseau):                                                        and on the 8th inst the problem of happinessis floated once more: I return to lecturing you: the precept is: swim naturallyin history: (oxymoronically speaking): (like that day I lost you at the stationin Pisa): (in the pathetic scene): (with you among the young mob,amid the goodbyes):                                            (between pleasure and reality, betweendesire and false consciousness): naturally nevertheless: (i.e., befitting humannature): (i.e., befitting work): (daywork):                                                                                        you sounded rattled to meone Sunday morning on the phone: (excessively rattled): (excessively rattlingto me): (and: I can hang up, I thought): (and instead I told you: come on,hang in there): (navigating the inconceivable labyrinthe): (from a Duomotelin Milan no less): (du coeur humain):                                                                                (I spoke to Maria just now): (on the phone): (I evoke,I invoke): (over a lonely dinner): (and: if you must know, I've always sufferedfrom loneliness): (and: always will) (and: I nibble and spit):                                                                                                                                (my trap, I feel it, awaits me):(a basement brand, with a spring-loaded bar for the skull):                                                                                                                                (and, like that, snap, crack): 

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The Genoese poet Edoardo Sanguineti (1930-2010) is widely considered one of the most important Italian poets of the postwar period. His creative and critical output is closely linked to the New Vanguard movement of the 1960s. His books of poetry include Segnalibro. Poesie 1951-1981, Il Gatto Lupesco. Poesie 1982-2001, and Mikrokosmos. Poesie 1951-2004

Will Schutt is the author of Westerly (Yale University Press) and translator of six works from Italian, including My Life, I Lapped It Up: Selected Poems of Edoardo Sanguineti (Oberlin College Press) and Fabio Genovesi’s novel The Breaking of a Wave (Europa Editions). He currently teaches in Baltimore, Maryland, and co-curates Policromia, an annual international festival of poetry and translation in Siena, Italy. 

One of the most remarkable modern European poets is now available in English for the first time. My Life, I Lapped It Up is the first comprehensive English translation of one of postwar Italy’s most important poets. Edoardo Sanguineti (1930-2010) is best known as an influential member of the Italian intellectual avant-garde that rose to prominence in the 1960s. During his 60-year career, he published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as librettos, novels, plays, books of literary and social criticism, and translations. This collection highlights his most psychologically probing and approachable poems, featuring work from his mid and late career.

“Edoardo Sanguineti remains as contemporary in 2018 as he was in 1963. The voice is funny, gruesome, coy, and tender, as he navigates the settings and languages of Berlin, Rotterdam, Turin, Vrac, Madrid, Munich, and elsewhere with ‘the impatience that is [his] genius.’ The tongue-tip pleasure of the original Italian is everywhere apparent in Will Schutt’s English: ‘a vintner’s gizmos,’ ‘a total sexy-booze and -schmooze,’ ‘the muscle-mush of tourists.’ Schutt’s translations convey the sound play and sophistication of a major modern Italian author, elegantly recreating the invention and pathos for which Sanguineti is revered.”
—Taije Silverman

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