“Re-writing the World: Italian Poetry in the 1960s and 1970s,” with Beppe Cavatorta (Italian, University of Arizona)

November 3, 7:00 Lovejoy 100

Untitled by Cornell

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Solar Set), ca. 1956-58

Throughout the second half of the Twentieth Century, and especially in the 60s and 70s, Italian poets have attempted a radical renovation of the literary institutions and conventions they had received from tradition. Their efforts gave birth to what critics have called the neo-avantgarde. What had begun as an effort to reconsider literature, soon turned into a political experiment aimed at re-writing the world itself. These intellectuals formulated a sharp criticism of traditional power structures and the excesses of capitalism by unmasking its linguistic strategies. This new kind of “realism” did not aim at describing the world but rather at changing it. This lecture will reconstruct the interesting path these writers followed, looking at the way in which the natural world is presented in their poems.

Beppe Cavatorta is Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Arizona, Tucson. His research interests are varied, with scholarly publications on Renaissance authors such as Machiavelli, Savonarola, and Tasso as well as contemporary writers like Alberto Savinio, Antonio Delfini, Tahar Lamri and Adriano Spatola. Among his other interests are Italian Futurism, the neo-avant-garde of Sixties, and the Partisan War as depicted in literature and film. His essays have appeared in several journals such as Studi Novecenteschi, Anterem, Rivista di studi italiani, Nuova prosa, Il Verri, Carte Italiane, NAE, Italica, Scritture migranti, L’illuminista, Italian Culture, ELQ, and Lectura Dantis Virginiana. His new book on experimental Italian writings in the XX Century (Scrivere Contro, Piacenza: Scritture) was published in 2010; other recent publications include A. Spatola, The Position of Things. Collected Poems 1961-1989 (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2008), and the volume of studies on and for Luigi Ballerini, Balleriniana (Ravenna: Montanari, 2010). Prof. Cavatorta also specializes in the theory and practice of translation and cultural interchange. He edited the translation of the experimental novel The Porthole by Adriano Spatola (Los Angeles: Seismicity Editions, 2011). He co-edited an anthology of contemporary Italian poetry, The Promised Land (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2000), and he is also the co-editor of a major forthcoming anthology of Italian poetry from Pier Paolo Pasolini to the present, Those Who from afar Look like Flies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). He published his translations of several American poets into Italian in the anthologies Nuova poesia Americana: San Francisco (Milan: Mondadori, 2006) and Nuova poesia Americana: New York (Milan: Mondadori, 2009).

Student Discussions:

  • The Nature of Poems December 15, 2015 Jessica TregidgoIn this evening lecture, we learned about the Italian Neo-Avant Garde movement. The literature that came out of this time was against the establishment. It was a movement away from ...
  • Poetry December 1, 2015 Mikaela JohnsonI was interested in this talk after having taken a poetry class during my sophomore year here. The speaker talked extensively about how poetry is tool for keeping language alive ...
  • Shift in Avant Garde Writing Style November 28, 2015 Roger StoneDuring Beppe Cavatorta’s lecture entitled “Re-writing the World: Italian Poetry in the 1960s and 1970,” he discussed the shock of Italian writing that occurred during the new Avant Garde. It ...
  • Apocalyptic Poetry November 14, 2015 eroakleyI found that the poem from “Il pesce gotico” that Prof Cavatorta showed us reminded me of an elaborate cross of two things we are probably familiar with from grade school: ...
  • The Neo-Avant Guarde November 12, 2015 Nick PattisonI loved last Tuesday’s talk about the Italian neo-avant guarde, exploring the relationship between nature and the Italian literature in the time of the avant-guarde. It seemed that the Avant-guarde ...
  • A Blank Canvas November 10, 2015 ErnestoIn Beppe Cavatorta’s lecture I was intrigued with Giorgio Celli’s “Il Pesce Gotico”. This poem caught my attention for a few reasons. First, the structure of the poem is unusual ...
  • Phenomenological Writing: Literature & Perception November 10, 2015 mwyndhamIn my English class with Professor Bryant, we have been discussing the importance of phenomenological reading. In essence, it is the concept of revisiting parts of a text and understanding ...
  • Italian Neo-avant-garde Poets and Emily Dickinson November 10, 2015 Rachel BirdThroughout Beppe Cavatorta’s lecture on “Nature and the Literature of the Italian Neo-Avante-Garde,” I was struck by the similarities between the poems he discussed and poems my “Emily Dickinson and English Poetry” class ...
  • Rethinking Nature November 9, 2015 Sophie SwetzIn this week’s lecture, Cavatora explained the importance of nature in the Italian neo avant-garde literary movement. Previously, imagery and metaphor in Italian poetry had not focused on nature nearly ...
  • Nature in the Atomic Age November 8, 2015 Maya MeltsnerOne aspect of this week’s lecture that struck me was how much the work of the Italian poets in the 1960s reflected the time they were living in. Their poetry ...