New Poetry From Italy

Florence's La Nazione, a sober conservative daily with a national circulation and founded at the time of the American Civil War, stated on November 2, 1991, that more than 10 percent of Italians today are fully occupied in "organized crime" (not counting politicians and the legal profession). "Organized crime," in Italy, doesn't mean independent "self-employed" criminals, but is a term for the now dominant force in Italian society—the Mafia, the 'ndrangheta, and the camorra. Only a year or so ago, the same newspaper published a statement by a leading judge who said the Mafia, etc., did not exist. Ten percent seems a modest proportion and surprises nobody. Are not 10 percent of the population bank workers, 10 percent accountants, 10 percent journalists or communications workers, or factory workers, and so on? All of this is quite normal and calls for no comment. But over the past thirty years a new profession has risen to prominence. At least 20 percent of Italians are poets. In Stefano Lanuzza's Guida ai poeti italiani degli anni ottanta, more than a thousand renowned poets are discussed, and that is only the crème de la crème. For years now people have been saying that, in Italy, there is a "boom" in poetry. The snag, as Lanuzza says, is that there are no readers. If you go into a bookstore and ask for poetry they...

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