Curious


Arcobaleno Rainbow,
Sara Elena Rossetti, translated by the author
(7.00 Patrician Press)


Patrician Press is new to me and it seems quite new to itself, about a dozen books so far, 'printed and bound in Peterborough by Printondemand-worldwide', poetry and fiction The present book (2014) is this poet's first collection and was 'first published as an e-book 2013' (available on Amazon Whispernet for a kindle, same date as this paper edition, at 1.99).

The author is her own translator; the Italian seems to be the original on the left hand page, but a note tells us she 'translates works from English into Italian', not the other way round. I wish her brief introduction might have said more about process. She has 'collaborated on translations of poems by Christina Rossetti', so begging the intriguing question whether she is by family related.

The collection is divided into sections of poems of rainbow colours plus (to begin with) white (and end with) black. The cover page for Verde/Green is titled 'bring lost until you find the way home'; the first poem is 'homeless' (all titles lower case),

       I've lost my compass:
       nobody grieves.
       I'll call emergency
       to rescue me.
       If they can,
       wherever I am.

Almost all of the poems are brief, few run to the end of or over a page. There is not at all a simple explicit colour reference to every poem, perhaps more often than not, as with the poem already quoted, it is something more intriguing. Blu/Blue ('the day running through the sky') includes this poem, 'a teardrop';

      I took a teardrop
      this morning
      and put it in my pocket
      to remind me I am alive
      and gave her
      a name.
      Nobody knows it
      but I know
      and that
      is enough.

Brief poems seem to me a big risk, a test of both poet and reader. I mean they have this 'Catch me if you can' for the poet and a 'Why bother with this?' for the reader. One can be curious, though, about how the poem came into being - in a moment or after days of shifts and changes - and for the reader it might be, 'I'm not in the mood for this, can't settle to it,' easily morphing into 'Too glib, this poem.'

The brief poem, and the typeface is quite big here, the rare whole page has only 23 lines, there is something emphatic about the look of it - there must be a whole theory of typefaces - and so when on page 61, 'umbrella', I am reminded of Basho,

     The wind is rising
     I'll grab an umbrella
     and stay on the roof
     waiting for the wind
     to take me and I will fly
     too.

This is in the Yellow section, 'the sunflower playing hide and seek', and I imagine Basho would not be saying stay put but be on his way. Interesting perhaps then, the short poem of movement, of the moment and away, or, as in this book, I think, more of a 'being here', poems of self. 'I will fly/too' is a rarer expectation here. But I have quoted only some of the shorter ones, so here is one somewhat longer from Orange ('pistils through the eyelids of dreams'), 'looking for water':

     The water diviner
     had the wrong map
     and came here to look
     for water.
     She goes round and is unnoticed
     while she walks with her stick.
     Then she stops at night to look  at      [sic]
     this life which is not hers.
     Even if she is blind
     she saw something that does not exist
     and she does not desist
     while she keeps on searching
     with her trusty stick
     to quench her thirst.


          David Hart 2013