forthcoming September 2019

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Go Tell It to the Emperor
The Selected Poems of Pierluigi Cappello

translated by Todd Portnowitz

Spuyten Duyvil : 10 September 2019


From one of Italy’s most widely read and deeply treasured poets: an essential collection of verse, selected from all five of his major works, bringing this unique, mesmerizing voice to an English-speaking audience for the first time, in prize-winning translations

The poems of Pierluigi Cappello “seem all to have been written in pencil,” his translator Todd Portnowitz notes in the introduction to this volume, “elegies for fading memories, they threaten impermanence on the page. And yet the words hold, so assured are they in their leave-taking.”

Whether writing of his snowy home in the Italian alps, of his beloved father, of his extended circle of friends and family, Cappello comes to the reader with his all-embracing spirit, a tenderness and generosity expressed in an everyday language that defies its own simplicity, and a serene clarity that recalls the lyrical work of W. S. Merwin and Wisława Szymborska.

Beginning with his masterful Go Tell It To the Emperor, this selection—supported by a Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets—moves backward toward Cappello’s early work, and closes with a “coda” of poems from the last years of his short life. The victim of a motorbike accident at age sixteen, which severed his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down, Cappello is a poet of extraordinary resilience, who gazes out on the world with patience and persistence, summoning it with language, refusing to let it drift.