3/15/12

LOCOMOTRIX / Amelia Rosselli


New Book from the University of Chicago Press


A musician, musicologist, and self-defined “poet of research,” Amelia Rosselli (1930–96) was one of the most important poets to emerge from Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Following a childhood and adolescence spent in exile from Fascist Italy between France, England, and the United States, Rosselli was driven to express the hopes and devastations of the postwar epoch through her demanding and defamiliarizing lines. Rosselli’s trilingual body of work synthesizes a hybrid literary heritage stretching from Dante and the troubadours through Ezra Pound and John Berryman, in which playful inventions across Italian, English, and French coexist with unadorned social critique. In a period dominated by the confessional mode, Rosselli aspired to compose stanzas characterized by a new objectivity and collective orientation, “where the I is the public, where the I is things, where the I is the things that happen.” Having chosen Italy as an “ideal fatherland,” Rosselli wrote searching and often discomposing verse that redefined the domain of Italian poetics and, in the process, irrevocably changed the Italian language.

This collection, the first to bring together a generous selection of her poems and prose in English and in translation, is enhanced by an extensive critical introduction and notes by translator Jennifer Scappettone. Equipping readers with the context for better apprehending Rosselli’s experimental approach to language, Locomotrix seeks to introduce English-language readers to the extraordinary career of this crucial, if still eclipsed, voice of the twentieth century.

“In the landscape of twentieth-century Italian writing, Amelia Rosselli’s poems stand out as a unique achievement, cultivating oblique, discontinuous forms that mix social diagnosis and satire, memory and introspection, tragedy and utopianism. Jennifer Scappettone’s editorial project is a work of cultural restoration that helps to create a broader context in which the anglophone reader can more fully appreciate Italian poetic traditions. But she has done much more: drawing on her own formidable skills as an experimental poet in English, Scappettone has produced an ambitiously innovative translation whose effects are at once stunning and uncanny in recreating the Italian. The result is a body of poetry that is challenging, to be sure, yet tremendously powerful.”—Lawrence Venuti, Temple University




Jennifer Scappettone is assistant professor of English and creative writing and associated faculty of Romance languages and literatures at the University of Chicago, and was the Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Modern Italian Studies for 2010-11. Her poetry collections include From Dame Quickly and the bilingual Thing Ode/Ode oggettuale.


Please contact Micah Fehrenbacher at the University of Chicago Press for more information.


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