Unbound presents poets working with / on multilinguality. Meet the Italian poet Amelia Rosselli.
Amelia Rosselli was born in Paris in 1930 to an Italian father and an English mother who fled Italy. Rosselli was a poet, a musician and a musicologist, as well as a literary translator. She used multilingual writing widely in her work. Her highly experimental literary output includes verse and prose in English and French, as well as Italian. From 1952, Amelia writes poetry in three languages: first in English, Clothes to the Wind (1952), than in Italian, Cantilena, poesie per Rocco Scotellaro (1953), and in French, Adolescence : Sanatorio, 1954. Her trilingual journal, Diario in Tre Lingue, 1955-1956, is written in three languages simultaneously. At the end of her life, she returns to Italian as her principal language. Her poetry collection Variazioni belliche, 1964, is written in Italian; however, she also uses English and French insertions in her writing.
Rosselli published eight poetry collections. Her work has been recently collected and published in Hospital Series (2015, translated by Roberta Antognini, Giuseppe Leporace and Deborah Woodard) and Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli (2012, translated by Jennifer Scappettone). She also translated English poetry into Italian. Scholar and translator Lucia Re has described Rosselli as “anti-fascist, Jewish, multi-lingual, an experimental musician and a perennial exile, Amelia Rosselli is one of the great poets of the 20th century”. She died in 1966 in Rome by committing suicide.
(Source: Poetry Foundation; “Un « chaos linguistique » : les textes en français d’Amelia Rosselli” (1930-1996), Emilio Sciarrino)
[There’s something like pain in the room]
(by Amelia Rosselli)
from Documento (1966-73)
There’s something like pain in the room, and
it’s partly overcome: but the weight
of objects wins, their way of signifying
weight and loss.
There’s something like red in the tree, but it’s
the orange of the lampstand
bought in places I don’t want to remember
because they also carry weight.
Since I can know nothing of your hunger
the stylized fountains are
precise in their will
a destiny of people separated by oblique noise
can, when overturned, fall into place quite well.