Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Dieci poesi con otto linee (Ten poems with eight lines),

Giovanni Cerbiatto, translated by Eva Viola Tedeschi

Sampson Low Ltd, 2015   £2.00 + £1.20 P&P

Style and shape

This A6 pamphlet is formatted in landscape. The page is a good size, therefore, to take an eight-line poem twice, the original on the left, the translation into English on the right. Or in the centre fold, just one poem per page: on the left Italian; on the right Inglese.

If you can read, or work out, a little Italian, you can see for yourself how the original is working, and use the right hand poem as a crib. If you have no Italian, you can just read to the right.

For me, I liked the Italian best. I like ‘di notte si sentano / animali in giardino’ much better than ‘at night you can hear / animals in the garden’. Made me think about that second person ‘you’, of which we are so fond, but which suddenly seems so heavy-handed compared to the impersonal ‘si sentano / animali’. Such a beautiful swirly language, such style.

No punctuation, neither in the English nor the Italian, but you can see how the poem can work confidently without. A simple line, a fluid development.

There are illustrations too, or designs, using the same two colours as the fonts: dark orange and grey/black. Stylish.

Helena Nelson