A Poem For Saturday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

We post poems by gay poets all year long, naturally, and this weekend and next, we’ll feature three each by the Italian poet Patrizia Cavalli, who lives in Rome, and Kevin Simmonds, an American who lives in San Francisco.

Cavalli has been a favorite of many friends of mine for decades—poets, writers, and others notably devoted to the arts. Among her admirers are Eliza Griswold, several of whose translations,  I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, we featured in March, Maxine Groffsky, an exceptional literary agent, the memoirist and novelist Edmund White (“Look at her closely: it’s as if you were seeing Sappho in the flesh.”), and Marilyn Goldin, a brilliant screenwriter who wrote with and for such luminaries as Bernardo Bertolucci and Agnes Varda and who died some years ago in her home in upstate New York near a monastery where she served the Swami as a scholar and writer. (I delight in every chance to celebrate this extraordinary woman.)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and story writer Jhumpa Lahiri expresses best why we have chosen the poems we have to represent this Italian poet’s limpid, mischievous, and perhaps above all, abundantly (and winsomely) genuine work, “She articulates with disarming precision, the instability, the absurdity, the exquisite anguish, of love. Perhaps her poems can’t change the world, but they have changed my life.”

Our first selection from Patrizia Cavalli translated, from the Italian, by Moira Egan and Damiano Abeni:

Love not mine not yours,
but the fenced-in field that we entered
from which you soon moved out
and where I’d lazily made my home.
I watch you from the inside, you out there,
strolling distracted on the outskirts
and coming closer now and then to check
whether I’m still there, stopped and stunned.

(From My Poems Won’t Change the World: Selected Poems of Patrizia Cavalli, edited by Gina Alhadeff. Translation © 2013 by Moira Egan and Damiano Abeni. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Photo by Henry Burrows)