To better understand the Italian literature during the 60s and 70s one should look at the social and economic context of Italy during that time. On the one hand, we have the economic “miracle”, which designate that period of sustained economic growth in Italy between the end of the World War II and late 1960s. This phase not only transformed Italy from a mainly rural nation into a major industrial power, but also was a period of change in society and culture. On the other hand, the late 60s were the years of protest. They comprised a worldwide escalation of social conflicts characterized by popular and youth rebellions against military and bureaucratic elites, who responded with political repressions.
In this frame of radical renovation emerged the neo-avantgarde movements such as the Gruppo 63 (with their anthology I Novissimi in 1961) who distinguished themselves by a strong push towards formal experimentation in language. After breaking with literary institutions and conventions they had received from tradition, what had begun as an effort to reconsider literature, soon turned into a political experiment aimed at re-writing the world itself. The new literature needed a new language and a new kind of poetry. Adriano Spatola was another contemporary poet who supported the transformation of traditional poetry into a complex artistic form, which he calls “total poetry”, described as free from all restrictions, including linguistic barriers and capable of embracing simultaneously photography, music, paintings, cinematic techniques and every other aspects of Italian culture. Spatola’s program brings to mind the innovative art principles advocated by Effeti Marinetti in his Manifesto at the beginning of the century. An evolutionary process connects the two avantgarde. In fact, in the 60s and 70s, Italian poets performed numerous radical experiments in which they favored the interaction of linguistic and extra-linguistic elements in order to attract a public almost completely disinterested in poetry: they tried to legitimize their survival in a technological society. The linear poetry was replaced by the new visual poetry, in which the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols is important in conveying the intended effect of the work.
Giorgio Celli’s “Il pesce gotico” is an example. This poem is about confusion: world is confused and poetry should reflect it in a certain way. The post-apocalyptic scenario presented lent the composition a “schizomorphic” vision. In this stream of consciousness there’s no man: he only appears as a “skeleton” and in the expression “I emerge”. Not even a single word points some kind of relief: their sounds, their rhythm and even their visual position convey a sense of death, desolation and isolation.