From Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli, A Bilingual Edition
Edited and Translated by Jennifer Scappettone
Da Palermo ’63 (1963)
Poesia dedicata a Spatola
Il mare ha delle punte bianche ch’io non conosco e il tempo, che bravo
si dimena bravo nelle mie braccia, corrompo docilmente—
e sottile si lamenta per i dolori al ginocchio a me toccàti.
Senza livore io ti ricordo un immenso girono di gioia
ma tu dimentichi la vera sapienza. Se la notte è una
veraconda scematura io rivorrei giocare con le belle
dolci signore che t’insegnavana che il dare o il vero, non
Sentnedo morire la dolce tirannia io ti richiamo
sirena volenterosa—ma il viso disfatto di un chiaro prevedere
altre colpe e docili obbedienze mi promuove cretine
Gravi disgrazie sollecitano.
Il vero è una morte intera.
From Palermo ’63 (1963)
Poem dedicated to Spatola
The sea has white points that I don’t know and tempo, so good
it wags good in my embrace, I corrupt sweetly—
and slight it laments the aches at the knee touched to me.
Without spite I remind you of an immense day of joy
but you forget true knowledge. If the night is a
trueful abature I would like again to play with the sweet
belles mister who taught you that giving or the true, is
Sensing sweet tyranny die I recall you,
eager siren—but the face stripped of a lucid prediction
of other faults and docile submissions promotes idiot
hopes in me.
Grave misfortunes solicit.
The truth is a death entire.
The Academy of American Poets recently announced Jennifer Scappettone as winner of the 2012 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize for Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli, an excerpt of which appears above. The collection is the first to bring together a selection of work in both English and Italian by Rosselli, one of the most important postwar European poets—a musician, musicologist, and self-defined “poet of research”—whose trilingual body of work fused the confessional sensibilities and eruditely broken-lyricism of John Berryman with the formal experimentation of Ezra Pound, and a troubadour’s flourish that extends from Dante to the French moderns. The $10,000 award is given every other year for the translation into English of a significant work of modern Itali
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945–82), hard-living, frenetic (libertine, bourgeois-scourging) New German filmmaker would have turned sixty-seven today, had he survived even into his forties. Strong-armed by the influence of Brechtian theater and Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend (1967), Fassbinder went on to direct forty films and made-for-television performances—though like the Frenchman L. J. M. Daguerre and the American John Waters (puppet theater), Fassbinder’s background was the stage, and it showed. His early work is marked by a static camera and dialogue not conceivably of this world; he goes on the record in a piece later reprinted for Cineaste, where he states:
“I would like to build a house with my films. Some are the cellars, others the walls, still others the windows. But I hope in the end it will be a house.”
To watch a Fassbinder film is to participate, if only through mediation, in the tailwinds of the director’s cultural persona, his bad-boy whipping-up of a post-fascist, prejudicial German zeitgeist. To cogently locate him politically, and to infer his contributions to post-war, avant-garde cinema nearly three decades after his death, is a bit trickier.
Coincidentally, it was almost thirty-eight years ago to the day that Fassbinder’s Martha premiered on German television. Martha was the film Fassbinder completed immediately prior to Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (perhaps his most acclaimed production), though it was initially released in the aftermath of that film’s successes. Shot entirely on 16mm, and dealing with typical themes for the director (the fascist undertones of traditional family structures, physical and emotional paralysis, sadism, hysteria, dead cats, obsession, exceedingly banal-yet-mortified facial expressions), it was Martha‘s DVD-release in 2004 that first allowed the film to reach many American audiences.
Never one to shy away from controversy, longtime critic and blogger Jonathan Rosenbaum took on the film—and Fassbinder—in “Martha: Fassbinder’s Uneasy Testament,” featured in his 2010 collection Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition, which collects some of Rosenbaum’s most discriminating pieces from the past four decades, including several like this one, which focus on newly circulating releases and other developments of the digital age. An excerpt follows below.
Part of my reluctance to join the Fassbinder bandwagon in the ’70s was that I couldn’t accept without qualms the critical industry’s interpretation of his work as left-wing and subversive—an interpretation that was intricately bound up with the rediscovery of Douglas Sirk’s ’50s Hollywood movies by Fassbind