Her Poems Won’t Change the World

I put on a hat,
look in the mirror,
I’m expecting a visit expecting
the doorbell to ring…

—Patrizia Cavalli 

I contributed ten or so translations to My Poems Won’t Change the World, an excellent selection by editor Gini Alhadeff of poems by the Patrizia Cavalli, one of my favorite contemporary Italian poets.

From the jacket copy: In Italy, Patrizia Cavalli is as beloved as Wisława Szymborska is in Poland… 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… 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.

Patrizia is also the author of an incredibly fun album of Italian pop music.

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