Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: May 16, 2023
by Antonella Anedda, translated from the Italian by Susan Stewart and Patrizio Ceccagnoli
In this prize-winning new book of poems, Historiae, the celebrated Italian poet Antonella Anedda speaks to many contemporary problems—environmental devastation, the aftermath of centuries of colonization, and the ongoing European immigration crisis.
Yet, with a strong humanist focus, she continually turns to the deeply rooted history, and natural history, of such issues, drawing on her own lifelong sojourns between the wild Sardinian archipelago of La Maddalena and her teeming Roman neighborhood of Trastevere.
In this collection, poems of community frame poems of private life, including a series of moving, elegiac lyrics regarding her mother's death. Anedda's interests extend to cosmology, physics, and the haunting presence of the classics. Her title comes from the ancient historian, Tacitus, who figures in the book as a prophet of the fateful recurrence of violence and exile in the Mediterranean.
With wit, insight, and economy, she reminds us that history is plural and that our perspectives, too, are constituted by pluralities. Anedda once described herself as "a hare with a mathematical mind," adding, "I am a poet who has seen, but also a poet who has listened."
Now, through these precise and musical versions by the distinguished translators Patrizio Ceccagnoli and Susan Stewart, English-speaking readers can understand for themselves why Anedda stands among the most admired of contemporary European poets.
Much is recognizable: the making of poetic music from strings of plain-looking, prosy statements, the imaginative, allusive use of isolated details, the echoes of ancient poetic modes and a stance that aspires to set classical gravity and detachment against the painful nullity of so much human experience. But the poems tend to feel sparer, with a hard-won clarity and concision. At the same time the touch is lighter, the shifts from everyday urban modernity to underlying realities carried through with poetic ease.
—Peter Hainsworth, TLS