My Poems Won’t Change the World, by Patrizia Cavalli

Edited & introduced by Gini Alhadeff; translated by Alhadeff, Geoffrey Brock, Moira Egan & Damiano Abeni, Jonathan Galassi, Jorie Graham, Kenneth Koch, J.D. McClatchy, David Shapiro, Mark Strand, and Rosanna Warren


From one of the truly singular and beloved poets of contemporary Italy, these are poems of the self, the body, pasta, cats, the city and—always, and above all—love. This volume is the first substantial gathering of the best of Patrizia Cavalli’s work from her first six collections, from 1974 to 2006, translated by a selection of renowned poets. By turns thoughtful and sly, sensual and comic, charismatic and profound, these are works perfectly attuned to the pleasures and pains of everyday life and love.

See book at the MacMillan site (US)

See book at the Penguin site (UK)


“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.” ―Edmund White

“Like Emerson, Patrizia Cavalli says the same thing over and over, and each time it is amazingly fresh and surprising.” ―John Ashbery

“Reading Patrizia Cavalli is nothing short of ecstasy. She conjures the witty eroticism of Catullus, the purity of haiku. She articulates, with disarming precision, the instabilty, the absurdity, the exquisite anguish of love. Perhaps her poems can’t change the world, but they have changed my life.” ―Jhumpa Lahiri

“The most intensely ‘ethical’ poetry in twentieth-century Italian literature.” —Giorgio Agamben

“I would argue that these poems are actually deeply invested in trying to change the world, not through such direct means as political engagement or social critique but, rather, through love… Cavalli is interested in the way love can dissolve—albeit always only briefly in a languorous moment—the distinction of self.” —Mira Rosenthal, Kenyon Review

“A must-read for fans of contemporary poetry.” Booklist

“The psychological insight informing these lines is stunning… Her verse is also sensual in refined ways… This generous representative selection deserves many thoughtful readers, for who has not herself or himself been sometimes lost in what Cavalli calls ‘il buio dell’amore,’ ‘the dark of love’?” ―John Taylor, The Arts Fuse

“[A] voice full of reckless passion seasoned by the brevity of wit.” —Timothy Liu

“It may seem like an odd assemblage of voices, but Cavalli’s lines sound seamless no matter who is doing the translating, and her keen wit carries through… [T}he essence of her poetry … transcends the rudimentary physics of gender, genre or language.” ―J. Mae Barizo, Hyperallergic

“[A] master of minimalism.” World Literature Today