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First Italian Prose (1954)

Amelia Rosselli—poet, critic, musician, musicologist, and composer—was born in Paris in 1930. Her family was forced to move between France, England, and the United States after the 1936 assassination of her father Carlo, a hero of the anti-Fascist Resistance. She eventually settled in a Rome haunted by the black shirts in 1950. She is the author of numerous volumes of verse in Italian, as well as of Sleep: Poems in English (1953-1966), various polylingual works, and prose works gathered in Obtuse Diary (Diario ottuso, 1952-1963), from which this piece was drawn. She died in 1996. Rosselli wrote of “Prime Prose Italiane”:

““First Italian Prose” is a brief piece from 1954, and it has a slightly ironic title. But it was truly the first time that I had written in Italian, in prose that was not scientific or simply essayistic and rational. There was also in it an intent to evade prose poetry, and the influence of Dino Campana and many others was strong. The piece is short, inspired, in some fashion; it is inspired, in fact, by the Tiber, along which I lived. It was written partly outside my home, walking, and therefore by hand; or I took notes mentally and then transcribed that mental writing once at home. I do believe however that I succeeded, as long ago as 1954, in avoiding (as if it were a plague) ‘prose poetry,’ which was very common in that period. The text longs to possess the softness of the poems of Scipione, and thus to evade the dramatic Campana” (Diario ottuso 53).

English Translation


Jennifer Scappettone

Jennifer Scappettone's current book projects include From Dame Quickly (poems), Locomotrix: Selected Poetry of Amelia Rosselli (translations), Venice and the Digressive Invention of the Modern (a critical study of the obsolescent metropolis as a crucible for modernism), and Exit 43 (an archaeology of the landfill and opera of pop-ups in progress, commissioned by Atelos Press). She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago.

Amelia Rosselli


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2006

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