Poems (Paperback)

Poems By Pier Paolo Pasolini Cover Image
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"Sex, death, political passion, these are the simple objects to which I give my elegiac heart"

Winner of the first Renato Poggioli/William Weaver Award of PEN American Center

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), who is best known in this country as an inspired filmmaker, was also the most outspoken and original Italian writer of his generation, the author of distinguished and controversial novels and plays, political and literary criticism, and, above all, poetry. His poems are widely considered the most important contribution to Italian literature since Montale and, along with the work of Brecht and Neruda, represent the most powerful political poetry of the century. This dual-language book presents his major poems as well as an autobiographical essay, which together make for an outstanding introduction to Pasolini's exceptional gifts as a poet.

Praise For…

“Translating Pasolini is a formidable task, requiring of the translator what Pavese called una simpatia amorosa for the original. In the case of Pasolini, that means a translator with a good ear for the literary and the colloquial, a sense of the echoes and inversions of past poetry everywhere present (for despite his modernity, Pasolini was a committed renewer of the tradition), and the range for conveying startling tonal shifts, from intensely lyric evocation to blunt confession to high polemical anger. MacAfee has done his work with both responsibility and brilliance.” —William Arrowsmith

“Superb translations [of] one of the century's leading writers.... Pasolini may have burnt himself out at a stake of his own making--but this book of poems testifies to his fire's continuing light.” —Stephen Kessler, Santa Cruz Express

“This truly splendid translation, in a bi-lingual edition, contains Pier Paolo's most important poems, including ‘The Ashes of Gramsci' and ‘The Religion of My Time'.” —Doug Ireland, LA Weekly

“Translating Pasolini must have been a tremendous task... Norman MacAfee did remarkably well... This is a solid introduction to Italy's greatest poet since Montale. The realization of the greatness of Pasolini's poetry was slow in coming... now we can see for ourselves.” —Andrei Codrescu, Baltimore Sun

“Pasolini's poems are extremely beautiful and touching...the gold every true poet offers, the sense of real life as it is lived.” —Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Pasolini seems to me indisputably the most remarkable figure to have emerged in Italian arts and letters since the Second World War.... His poetry is an important part of his passionate, proud, historically vulnerable body of work, a work in and with history; and of the tragic itinerary of his sensibility.” —Susan Sontag

“The publication of a volume of translations by Norman MacAfee of Pasolini's best poems reminds us what an extraordinary man he was.... Of his copious writings, his poems seem most likely to endure ... translated now with clarity, ingenuity, and fidelity by Norman MacAfee.” —Edmund White, NYT Book Review

“Forceful, readable translations of brilliant, scorching poems.” —Patriot Ledger

“...heralded by the Times Literary Supplement in 1982 as one of the three most important poets of the twentieth century.” —American Book Review (the two others being Antonin Artaud and Aimé Césaire)

“Translated here by Norman MacAfee with remarkable diligence and style," (The New Criterion), "these are unnerving documents of self-division, self-condemnation, and self-exaltation.” —Vernon Young, Washington Post Book World

“He was a liberating force in Italian literature and film... Here is the unmediated voice, full of discouragement, sensual joy, unhappiness, idealism.” —Los Angeles Times

“…astounding depth and variety… The translations are extremely effective--readable, faithful to the originals, and sensitively alive in nuance, allusion, and musicality.” —Choice

“Norman MacAfee's translations are lean and fluent, and they make Pasolini's work--so dependent on the spoken and dialect--eminently moving and readable.” —Richard Elman, for All Things Considered

“[Pasolini's] moral passion, analytical intelligence, and the stark beauty of his work make him one of the giants of Italian literature.” —David H. Rosenthal, Village Voice

“Like Allen Ginsberg, whose literary impact he in many ways paralleled, Pasolini brought writing out of its hermetic, academic closets and into the street.... Pasolini lived a life of such great honesty, passion, intelligence, insight and richness, that even despite--perhaps because of--its contradictions, I know of no life from which we could learn more today.... MacAfee's translations of the poetry offer a necessary addition to what we already know of Pasolini from his films.” —Steve Abbott, San Francisco Sentinel

“Mr. MacAfee has successfully transposed the delicacy along with the outrage of one of the few poets since Whitman who could write without irony, ‘All the world is my unburied body'.” —Christopher Kadison, American Book Review

“It is easy to forget that Pier Paolo Pasolini is a major poet.... As the central man of the central decades of this century in Italy, he compels us to read his poems.” —John Ahern, Parnassus

“There are reasons why he is one of the best half-dozen Italian poets of this century and they're all here.” —Jeffrey Seroy, New York Native

“Norman MacAfee's splendid translation ... a definite coup in presenting Pasolini to English-speaking readers.” —Christopher Street

“Everything he did, every word he said was rich and sad and dangerous…. He was a poet, our poet.” —Gay Life (Chicago)

“…one of the great sexual and moral innovators of the century.” —The Advocate

“The poems are a curious mix of political and personal confession, of ideological speechifying shot through with flashes of brilliance, with, every now and then, moments of equilibrium when political and personal passions coincide with great force.” —Alexander Stille, The Nation

“Pasolini was what can be termed a citizen-poet. He was concerned with his homeland and expressed his feelings in his work. Patriotic poetry usually comes out of a right-wing tradition and is nationalistic, but Pasolini's great originality was to be a citizen-poet of the left... He wept over the ruins of Italy but without a hint of rhetoric. He was a modern who used the classical tradition. Rimbaud, the poet of the Paris Commune, the most revolutionary of poets, remained his greatest influence. In the years after the Mussolini dictatorship, he adhered, like many of his compatriots, to an unorthodox brand of communism, that was both Christian and utopian, and these feelings for the poor and underprivileged motivated his own poetry and films.” —Alberto Moravia, in The New York Times

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374524692
ISBN-10: 0374524696
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: April 30th, 1996
Language: English