Graffi's poems place themselves
on the edge between a highly pliant, "thick" language and
absence of voice. Together, these two faces of the coin enact the
internal splintering of the word in its role as mediator. Against
a tradition that has become a museum of manipulative skills, Graffi
values the energy in words, their ability to transform themselves.
"I feel words as something physical," she says, "with
a smell, a taste, something capable of gestures beyond self-display.
The desert of the blank page is actually swarming with life. Go have
Milli Graffi was born and still
lives in Milano. In the 70ies she was part of the avantgarde movement
"poesia totale" around the magazine Tam Tam and
performed sound poetry at festivals in Amsterdam, Paris, Cogolin
and Milanopoesia. She has published three books of poetry: Mille
graffi e venti poesie (Geiger, 1979), Fragili film (Nuovi
Autori, 1987), and L'amore meccanico (Anterem, 1994). She
has translated Lewis Carroll and Charles Darwin into Italian and
written essays on Petrolini (an Italian comic of the 1910s), the
avantgarde's relation to the comic, and on nonsense in Marinetti,
Palazzeschi and Breton. She is one of the editors of il verri, a
magazine for avantgarde literature.
Michael Gizzi's recent
books of poetry are My Terza Rima (The Figures, 2001), cured
in the going bebop (paradigm, 2000), No Both (Hard Press,
1997), and Continental Harmony (Roof Books, 1991). He lives
Giuliana Chamedes was born in New York City. She has published in
the Vermont Literary Review and translated the poetry of Franco
Loi. She is currently completing a year of study at the University
of Florence, where she is working for a public radio station.
"I search for the GORILLA-WORD" [Graffi] writes and...puts
her poem through the motions of confession, pleading , and humorous
reflection. But even her humor is pressed into the service of a
serious business, one which needs to go deep into the objects under
the poet's lens, whether they be "mountain pink," an "unthinkable
absolute," the "first vowel" or the "I"
At her best, Gaffi goes about her experiments with a sense of awe
that can get Whitmanic in scale: "here's the job / a word we
can name // grass burning in the electric inferno of midday [S]
// oh the / lyrical nameable watermelon word."
The challenges [to the translators] are evident; the agility of
their English speaks for itself-and is a credit.... well worth the
five-spot cover price.
--Chris Glomski, RAIN TAXI on line (Fall 2002)