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Condominium of the Flesh
Translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford
Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson
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A darkly humorous exploration of the human body and its various functions in poetic prose, Valerio Magrelli's personal chronicle of clinical experience catalogues a life history of ailments without ever being pathological. Every sensation and malfunction is placed under the subjective microscope of the poet's eye and examined in excruciating and obsessive detail. This Gray's Anatomy of the soul leads the reader on an inside-out voyage of discovery, with many surprises on the way. One of Italy's most celebrated living poets, Valerio Magrelli has also attracted an international following.
Praise for Valerio Magrelli's Poetry
Molino's translations of Valerio Magrelli's poetry bring to English-speaking readers some of the most astounding verse to be found in contemporary Italian letters. Here, a great deal of precious cargo has made it intact to the shores of the English-speaking world, and we are enriched by the arrival of such rich, strange, and new matter. —Rebecca West
I used to read a great many Italian poets. Nowhere near as many in recent years—though I've seen things by a young poet that I like very much. His name is Magrelli. —Joseph Brodsky
His poetry is a soliloquy written with a pencil and a small note-book, during the latest and most silent hours of the night. It's a poetry that looks at itself, but at the sight of its thought, vanishes. —Octavio Paz
Magrelli's poems make me feel good because they are so smart. Aphoristic and quirky, they seem from another millennium. I eat them up like clusters of grapes, and when I'm done I want more. I love their wry modesty, their strange truisms, and their beautiful succinctness. —Henri Cole
Valerio Magrelli . . . represents, to this reader at least, a new moment in Italian poetry. In the good-natured ease with which he shows off his mastery of the traditional tools of his trade, and the elegant way he lets the reader know he knows that writing is about writing, he advertises his membership in an international con-fraternity whose current English-language practitioners include Mark Strand and, especially, Paul Muldoon. Magrelli, a scholar of French literature and an experienced translator, is obsessed by the "translation" involved in all writing, and thus by language games that reveal the complex inner life of words. . . . Language itself is, naturally, one of this poet's prime subjects; Dante, he tells us, in a typically cheeky, inspired acrostic, is the "DNA of poETry," and the structure of his terza rima is the literary double-helix that contains "the future of the mother tongue" in the same way that the ur-poet's name magically incorporates life's ultimate building block. I know of no other Italian poet today who writes with such a capacious grasp of the enormous, still-to-be-discovered potentialities of the great treasure-house of Italian. Here is a writer whose energy and gifts open a doorway onto an expansive future. —Jonathan Galassi
About the Author
Valerio Magrelli (Rome, 1957) is the author of six poetry collections, for which he has won among other prizes the Mondello, the Viareggio, the Montale and the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli-Accademia dei Lincei: Ora serrata retinae (Feltrinelli, 1980), Nature e venature (Mondadori, 1987), Esercizi di tiptologia (Mondadori, 1992), Didascalie per la lettura di un giornale (Einaudi, 1999), and Disturbi del sistema binario (Einaudi, 2006), and Il sangue amaro (Einaudi, 2014). He has published four books of prose: Nel condominio di carne (Einaudi 2002), La vicevita. Treni e viaggi in treno (Laterza 2009), Addio al calcio (Einaudi 2010), and Geologia di un padre (Einaudi 2013), as well as critical studies on Dadaism, Paul Valéry, Charles Baudelaire and notable translations of Molière, Beaumarchais, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Debussy, Koltès, and Barthes.
A Professor of French literature at the University of Pisa and then Cassino, he is also a frequent contributor to the cultural pages of the Italian dailiy “La Repubblica.” His poems have been translated into several languages. In English: Nearsights: Selected Poems (translated by A. Molino, Graywolf Press, 1991), The Contagion of Matter (Holmes & Meyer, 2000), “Instructions on How to Read a Newspaper” and Other Poems (Chelsea Editions, 2008), The Embrace (Faber & Faber, 2009; winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize and the John Florio Prize) and Vanishing Points (bilingual edition of The Embrace, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).
About the Translator
Clarissa Botsford has worked in the fields of teaching, intercultural education, editing, translating and publishing and is also a singer, violinist, and lay celebrant. She currently teaches English and Translation Studies at Rome University. In 2014, her translation of the novel Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones was published by And Other Stories.