Monday, October 21, 2013, 6:30 pm
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Floor
New York City
Patrizia Cavalli was born in Todi, Umbria in 1949. She has written six collections of poetry: Datura (Einaudi, 2013);Pigre divinità e pigra sorte (Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate) (Einaudi, 2006); Sempre aperto teatro (The Forever Open Theater) (Einaudi, 1999); Poesie 1974–1992 (Poems) (Einaudi, 1992); L’io singolare proprio mio (The All Mine Singular I) (Einaudi, 1992); Il cielo (The Sky) (Einaudi, 1981); and Le mie poesie non cambieranno il mondo (My Poems Will Not Change the World) (Einaudi, 1974). She has also published translations of Shakespeare and Molière. My Poems Won’t Change the World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013) is the first anthology of Cavalli's poems to appear in English, with translations by Mark Strand, Jonathan Galassi, Jorie Graham, Rosanna Warren, J.D. McClatchy, David Shapiro, Geoffrey Brock, Gini Alhadeff and others. Cavalli lives in Rome.
How sweet it was yesterday imagining I was a tree!
I had almost rooted in one place
and grew in sovereign slowness there.
I took the breeze and the north wind,
caresses, blows--what difference did it make?
I was neither joy nor torment to myself,
I couldn't detach myself from my own center,
no decisions, no movement:
if I moved it was because of the wind.
Translated by Jonathan Galassi
Rosanna Warren born in 1953 in Fairfield, Connecticut. She is the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her book of criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, was published by W. W. Norton in 2008. Her most recent books of poems are Ghost in a Red Hat (2011) and Departure (2003), both from W. W. Norton. She is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Wallace Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. She was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in Chicago.
--when she disappeared on the path ahead of me
I leaned against a twisted oak, all I saw was evening light where she had been:
gold dust light, where a moment before
and thirty-eight years before that
my substantial mother strode before me in straw hat, bathing suit, and loose flapping
every summer afternoon, her knapsack light across her back,
her step, in sandals, firm on the stony path
as we returned from the beach
and I mulled small rebellions and observed the dwarfish cork trees
with their pocky bark, the wind-wrestled oaks with arms akimbo,
while shafts of sea-light stabbed down between the trunks.
There was something I wanted to say, at the age of twelve,
some question she hadn’t answered,
and yesterday, so clearly seeing her pace before me
it rose again to the tip of my tongue, and the mystery was
not that she walked there, ten years after her death,
but that she vanished, and let twilight take her place—