Skip to content

Languages

71 article(s) translated from Italian

Barbie

Milanese journalist Gabriella Kuruvilla touches on the dynamics of motherhood and assimilation. I did it again today. I woke up, made breakfast, watched them eat and drink, bathed and dressed them, took them to school, returned home, got my sari, sandals, lipstick, kohl, makeup remover, rings, bangles, wrap, and Barbie. I put it all in my bag and went out. I always choose a different café on the long route from Lambrate to Bovisa. I prefer to walk, despite the time it takes....

Two Untitled Prose Poems

Italian poet Giampiero Neri reflects on solitude and exile. It may seem odd that an episode recounted in a poem, as mere information, lends itself to being misunderstood. The episode is the Homeric one about the island of the Feaci and the misunderstanding is their so-called hospitality, by now almost proverbial. Dashed on the shore by the waves, miraculously safe, Ulysses is helped by Nausicaa, but must meet the Feaci and first of all their king Alcinoo. The prospect is dangerous and...

Listening to Silence

Indian–born writer Laila Wadia writes a letter to her newborn son. I love draping myself in words, wearing metaphors, allegory, irony—but since you entered my life, my love, my favorite outfit is a silk cloak, the color of a fiery sunset, made entirely of silence. The soft folds make room for my thoughts, thoughts of a woman, a migrant, a mother, to flow through the warm, liquid womb, where language melts and becomes a primordial soup, and the only sound is the smile of the...

From “Goldfish Don’t Live in Puddles”

Marco Truzzi dives into the daily life of a boy living in a Romani camp. What’s the point of stars If you don’t want to see? —Romani proverb My father stopped being a gypsy in the spring of 1987. As for the hows and whys that led to his decision—or, according to his point of view, how this simply happened to him—we’ll get to that later. For the time being, all you need to know is that my father stopped being a gypsy when I was seven years old and he was...

Three Poems from “Tattoos”

German–born Eva Taylor considers the process of inhabiting a new land and a new language. Kleidleid...

From “Lampedusa Snow”

Playwright Lina Prosa follows an African refugee in Italy’s Alpine north. To an actor with powerful lungs, who is able to act in high altitudes with little oxygen. The reality. The source: the news. An African migrant, after having arrived in Lampedusa, is brought to a shelter in the Orobie Alps. He stays there for months waiting for his request for political asylum to be processed. The theater/one actor: The actor is seated on a chair. Next to him is an open refrigerator. The...

Cous Cous Klan

Algerian–born Tahar Lamri blends strands from Italian, Arabic, German, and other Mediterranean cultures in his story of “an immobile traveler, eternally traveling” in present-day Italy. My name is simply Samir. I am the fortieth direct descendant of Shams al-Din Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad ibn 'Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Yusuf al-Lawati al-Tanji Ibn Battûta Ibn Hamid Al Ghazi, known simply as Ibn Battuta, born in Tangier in 1304 and died in Marrakesh...

I am leaving you Europe

In the following poem, Hajdari evokes Halil, the mythic character of the cycle of Albanian epic narrative poems (the Albanian Songs of the Frontier Warriors); Jutbina, a borderland between Albania and ex-Yugoslavia; and Bjeshkët e Nëmuna: the Cursed Mountains, as the northern Albanian Alps are called. I am leaving you Europe, corrupt old whore. Your ruins no longer enchant me, your mirrors and abysses have misled my exile, wounded my wretched body of the East in front of false...

Italy and the Literature of Immigration

Journalist and literary critic Francesco Durante looks at migration from two angles: that of immigrant writers adopting Italian and that of native–born Italians who leave for other shores. 1. Italy is a country with an extremely variegated and troubled history. We’re accustomed to thinking that Italy possesses a distinct and unmistakable identity, but when we do so we overlook the elementary consideration that Italy has only existed as a single, united country for a...

The True Story of “Faccetta Nera”

“I was on a TV talk show the other day, and something curious happened.” Those are the opening words of a Facebook post that Maryan Ismail, an Italo-Somali political activist, published recently. The curious thing that happened occurred in a television studio. Maryan, who is a longtime political activist working in Milan, has made up her mind to express her defiance of racism by speaking openly everywhere she can, including on TV. Of course, she doesn’t talk about...

From “Senza Polvere Senza Peso”

Now night comes—brings prayer. It opens the silence’s locks makes the sidereal map appear and we kneel facing that immense space between now and the rim of the beginning when spinal cords are all extended. *** I look down on ships as spreading light enlarges my vision. Other ships far off rise bearing gifts. We are leaning out over the heartbeat of waves on cliffs at the far end of the earth. Over there they collect corals, pearls, call on female deities, strew flowers. Within...

From Watering the Plant of Dreaming (Dialogue with Paul Celan)

Author's Note: The following is an active, experimental dialogue with a beloved poet; texts are constructed around single verses from the German poet, distanced from the original context and used as crumbs to ignite a new poetic explosion.   Nights close inside my palm,                I touch...

Future

My mother gave birth in December. Snow fell on the river. Water froze over the fish by month’s end.  She showed me to everyone since I hadn’t died . . . .  “We’ll take her out in pieces, an arm and a leg caught, maybe unformed.”           Only a sign like a silent hiss remains from that time: a return to that womb with my child, head down, body still forming, two loops of flesh around her neck. Step...

Landscape

I neared a branch heavy with snow bending under the grip of one of the crows. I became that gray and black rocking. And an uncommon green (a mix of salvia and ice) that spread a tint of bruise on the clouds. I saw myself in that purgatory. Everything was landscape.  Anger: a cloud. Uncertainty—heaps: a hill. Estrangement: trees with shivering shadows. “Pay attention,” said shade from the bush closest to me, “fog swallows your pain. Learn in this earthly life...

Pansies

Blue irises and garlic blossoms. The temptation is enormous, but I continue to resist. No more flowers, and no more excuses for either one of us. This ends here and now. The first time I saw you, it was early morning and I was out with the dog on the riverwalk alongside the Po. You were running—more a triumphal march than a jog, really. How could anyone have failed to notice you as you took possession of the world in your running shorts? There you were: focused, sweat on your...

Scandal

This excerpt comes from Aldo Nove's recent novel, All the Light of the World, about the life of St. Francis of Assisi (San Francesco), largely as seen through the eyes of his nephew, Piccardo. The excerpt includes three non-sequential chapters from Part One, titled “Scandal.” As Aldo Nove writes in his note to the novel, "The existence of Piccardo is documented, but we know almost nothing about him. He appears in thirteenth-century Assisi notary...

from “You Don’t Know: A Mafia Dictionary”

The following are selected from Andrea Camilleri’s Voi non sapete (You Don’t Know), a Mafia dictionary of sorts, largely based on the typed notes of “the boss of bosses,” Bernardo Provenzano, who was captured in Sicily in 2006. Camilleri had access to Provenzano’s typewritten notes, his “pizzini,” which Provenzano used to communicate within his organization for over forty years. Proceeds from the sale of this book go to the families of police...

I Remember

I remember the summer storms during the rainy season when the wind flung open the windows and lifted the contents of the rooms in a swirling dance. Streaks of lightening lit up the gray sky and the thunder was like the angry scream of the entire universe, unleashed right there, in that very spot. I remember, between the crashing of the thunder and the flashes of lightening, old Haimanot hiding under the ironing table in the living room, alternately shouting, "Wai! Gud reichiben! Oh God,...

Tana

The rain began that morning. Tana was coming home from school. Thursday afternoons they had sewing class, and now on the bus, she realized this was the first day she'd left school in the dark. It would go on like this for months. It was cold out, raining, and the bus, jammed with boys and girls, with students, was steaming hot. The windows were fogged up; someone had managed to pry one open, and Tana, already sweaty, was freezing. She thought: I might get sick, stay home a week. She...

Horst

I’m thirty-nine. I’m a chemist, graduate of the university of ****. For the last twelve years I’ve been working as a lab technician for a pharmaceutical company. Practically speaking, I’m a hired hand, because the creative part of our work all belongs to our bosses, the illustrious professors and scientists who design our research programs according to the needs of the company. Among the eggheads who work with us there’s even a Nobel Prize winner who...

Moving Like Geckos

I study him while he smokes, lying back, arm behind his head. I watch him release the smoke, breathe it back in and out, thinner now. He’s focused on something in the room but I can’t tell what, maybe my family photos—my mother, my father, the twins—or maybe the cubist still-life painting Donatella gave me. Or maybe he’s not looking at anything at all, just as high as his eyes can reach in this room that’s only twenty meters square. I study him, study...

Making a Scene

When I was little I watched a lot of movies, because my mother was always making shirts, my father was painting his pictures to sell, and so to let them work in peace, my grandmother, my mother’s mother, would take us to the Stadium movie house and keep us there, me and my brothers, for two movies back-to-back, the four o’clock and the six o’clock shows. I really liked watching my mother cut along the line to the paper pattern pinned to the cloth, and I liked it even...

Diary

Ravenna, October 15, 1963 Finally, after a year’s delay, we are in Ravenna. Just a week left before the first take. The Red Desert will be born after a long and difficult gestation. Those of us here with Antonioni: Di Palma, the lighting director, Poletti, the architect, Gianni Arduini, and myself. These are the last days of our feverish preparation. Setting: difficulties with Giuliana’s house. The place on the Candiano has the right kind of view of the ships, but the...

from “Dream Diary”

Marcello had just pulled up the last tent stake with a hammer and Monica’s ice ax when he saw something on the stake that left him stunned. The stake, like the others, was thirty centimeters long, metal, and pointed on one end and slightly hooked on the other, so it could be pounded down with the hammer. After he’d pushed the stakes through the elastic loops on all four corners of the nylon tent, Marcello drove them into the ground with the hammer, and now—exactly nine...

from “The Revenge of Capablanca”

The match was held in an arena, semicircular in shape, behind the town hall. They set the table and chessboard at the center of the back line. The audience crammed in up front. Most people sat on wood and wrought-iron bleachers. The younger men stood at the back. The children took over the empty patch of ground between the first row of bleachers and the two challengers. But not one child moved or made a sound. This was the same place, two years before, that their fathers took them to...

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.