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Breath: Poems and Lettersby Antonia Pozzi
Synopses & Reviews
At the start of a promising career, Antonia Pozzi (1912-1938) committed suicide, leaving behind several hundred poems known only to her closest friends.
The posthumous publication of this work led Eugenio Montale to praise Pozzi's "desire to reduce the weight of words to the minimum." Her modernist verse is lyrical and experimental, pastoral and erotic, powerfully evoking the northern Italian landscape and her personal tragedies amid the repressive climate of Fascism. Breath contains a representative selection of Pozzi's poems in an Italian/English format along with a number of her letters. In an introductory essay, editor-translator Lawrence Venuti documents her tormented life, considers her sophisticated thinking about her writing, and sketches the rich literary traditions that she inherited, creating a detailed context in which her poems can be more fully appreciated. The translations affiliate Pozzi's poetry with the work of comparable English-language writers such as H.D., Mina Loy, and Lorine Niedecker, establishing in translation what Pozzi lacked in Italian: a tradition of modernist women's poetries.
"American readers may find Pozzi a kindred spirit to Emily Dickinson, H. D., and Lorine Niedecker....In her poems, she charges sharp natural and realist imagery with the emotions roused by her experiences. She doesn't specify what emotions precisely, counting instead on sensual evocation and active verbs to register longing, frustration, excitement, and other passions." Ray Olson, Booklist
"Pozzi wrote spare poems that combined the pastoral with an Imagist's obsessive attention to language....Venuti performs archaeological feats to restore Pozzi's poetry to its original, unbowdlerized form....Breath's understated verses stun like the fields of asphodel and caves of silence that inform her geography." Cathy Hong, The Village Voice
Rediscovery of a stunning achievement in modern Italian poetry.
About the Author
Lawrence Venuti is Professor of English at Temple University. His latest books include The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998) and the translation of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock's The Temple of Iconoclasts (2000).
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