OVERRIDE

My Poems Won't Change the World

Selected Poems

Patrizia Cavalli; Edited by Gini Alhadeff

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

At last, an ample English-language selection of one of contemporary poetry’s most vibrant voices

Any hall she has ever read her poetry in is invariably filled to the gills. Women like her, girls like her, and men like her, too. In Italy, Patrizia Cavalli is as beloved as Wistawa Szymborska is in Poland, and if Italy were Japan she’d be designated a national treasure. The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said of Cavalli that she has written “the most intensely ‘ethical’ poetry in Italian literature of the twentieth century.” One could add that it is, easily, also the most sensual and comical. Though Cavalli has been widely translated into German, French, and Spanish, My Poems Won’t Change the World is her first substantial American anthology.
     The book is made up of poems from Cavalli’s collections published by Einaudi from 1974 to 2006, now freshly translated by an illustrious group of American poets, some of them already familiar with her work: Mark Strand, Jorie Graham, Jonathan Galassi, Rosanna Warren, Geoffrey Brock, J. D. McClatchy, and David Shapiro. Gini Alhadeff’s translations, which make up half the book, are the result of a five-year collaboration with Cavalli.

This edition includes the original Italian language poems alongside the English translation.

REVIEWS

Praise for My Poems Won't Change the World

Praise for My Poems Won't Change the World:

“A must-read for fans of contemporary poetry.”Diego Báez, Booklist

"How invigorating to have so much poetry by Patrizia Cavalli now available in English . . . The psychological insight informing these lines is stunning . . . Cavalli’s love poetry, which formulates such complex psychological realities in limpid everyday language, often gives pause like this. Her verse is also sensual in refined ways . . . This generous representative selection deserves many thoughtful readers, for who has not herself or himself been sometimes lost in what Cavalli calls ‘il buio dell’amore,’ ‘the dark of love’?" —John Taylor, The Arts Fuse

"It may seem like an odd assemblage of voices, but Cavalli’s lines sound seamless no matter who is doing the translating, and her keen wit carries through, unhindered by irony. In ‘The Keeper,’ her dazzling poem sequence, an allegory on poetic craft and sexual love, she writes, ‘it wasn’t science, it was devotion.’ She was referring to opening locked doors, but I took the phrase to be the essence of her poetry, one which transcends the rudimentary physics of gender, genre or language." —J. Mae Barizo, Hyperallergic

“I've known this fascinating woman for forty years. Look at her closely: it's as if you were seeing Sappho in the flesh. Her simple, mysterious words are the lyrics to a stormy, romantic opera whose plot we half-intuit but never fully understand. This is the phenomenology of desire.” —Edmund White, A Boy’s Own Story and The Beautiful Room is Empty

“Like Emerson, Patrizia Cavalli says the same thing over and over, and each time it is amazingly fresh and surprising. The world does change, in the telling.” —John Ashbery

“Reading Patrizia Cavalli is nothing short of ecstasy. She conjures the witty eroticism of Catullus, the purity of haiku. She articulates, with disarming precision, the instabilty, the absurdity, the exquisite anguish of love. Perhaps her poems can't change the world, but they have changed my life.” —Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies



“From the first time I read Patrizia Cavalli's work—over 20 years ago—I was struck by how fresh and original her poems were.  No one else could weave so much humanity in so few lines—alternately funny, savage, heartbreaking, and painfully wise.  She earns the rarest compliment for a poet—she is irresistible.” —Dana Gioia, author of Can Poetry Matter? and Pity the Beautiful



Praise for Patrizia Cavalli:

“Her style is hard-bitten, on the edge. The circumstances of a poem, although private, are never merely personal, they reach out to larger, more abiding and vulnerable realities.” —J. D. McClatchy

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Patrizia Cavalli; Edited by Gini Alhadeff

  • Patrizia Cavalli was born in Todi, Umbria, and now lives in Rome. She has published six collections of poetry: Le mie poesie non cambieranno il mondo; Il cielo (The Sky); Poesie 1974–1992 (Poems); L’io singolare proprio mio (The All Mine Singular I); Sempre aperto teatro (The Forever Open Theater); and Pigre divinità e pigra sorte (Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate). She has also published translations of Shakespeare and Molière. Gini Alhadeff published a memoir, The Sun at Midday: Tales of a Mediterranean Family, and a novel, Diary of a Djinn. She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Italian parents. She is completing The Magic Horn, about a Swiss-American psychiatrist and her therapeutic sculpture garden at Bellevue Hospital.

  • Patrizia Cavalli
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Available Formats and Book Details

My Poems Won't Change the World

Selected Poems

Patrizia Cavalli; Edited by Gini Alhadeff

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