Poet’s Corner [L’Angolo del Poeta]

by Barbara Collignon

Consider this venue as a possible way to publish your poetry: Is there a community center devoted to preserving the culture and language of your ethnic group or a group with whom you have cultural ties?  If they have a newsletter or monthly newspaper, perhaps the editors would consider publishing your poems and translations of those poems in a “Poet’s Corner” column. Or, the other way around, perhaps there is a newspaper in a city or village abroad where your family has ties that would be interested in publishing a bilingual column of your poetry.

Recently, after a young Italian friend of mine joined the American Translators Association, he asked if I knew anyone with material to translate so he could get letters of reference and build a client base. I submitted some thirty poems to him for translation. The Italian versions were so beautiful and well done, I thought I had to share them.  Reading bilingual versions of any text side by side, is a good way to brush up on language skills, learn new vocabulary and appreciate the beauty of a language.

With this in mind, I approached the editors of The Italian Times, the monthly newspaper of the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee with the idea and submitted two poems with translation. They were open to such a column. They did a beautiful job introducing me and my translator, Roberto Ciampi, to their readers and published two poems with accompanying translations. I also suggested that if they liked, I could, now and then, include a poem by an Italian poet with an English translation. So far, I have featured a sonnet by Petrarch, a poem by Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), and one by Ferruccio Ramadori, a contemporary who likes to write in the Umbrian dialect. Including Italian poets, doing the research on them and studying their poetry has increased my enjoyment of writing the column. Also, I know I am rendering the Italian-American community a service in highlighting their culture. You can read the articles in back issues of The Italian Times newspaper.

L’Angolo del Poeta (Poet’s Corner) is an unpaid column but with 1600 members and distribution at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other venues, my poetry will be widely read. Take a chance and contact the editors of an ethnic newspaper in your area.

Winter  Lament

Now bare branches bend and cower
naked under scowling skies.
Stripped and whipped, their raiment tattered,
low they bow while cold wind cries.
Tree trunks shiver. Leaves take flight,
flee before encroaching night.
Ravens scatter, reconvene,
peck and caw, flap and scream.
“Here comes winter, hunger, cold.
Here comes ice and hail and snow!
Here comes misery! Here comes fright!
Here comes winter’s long, bleak night.”
Rain, relentless, fierce, wind-driven,
across fallow field flies.
Where are summer’s flowers and meadows,
sun-warmed breezes, azure skies?

Lamento d’inverno

I rami spogli ora si chinano e si rannicchiano
nudi sotto un cielo torvo.
Spogliati e sferzati, le loro vesti stracciate,
in basso si curvan mentre il vento freddo ulula.
I tronchi tremano. Le foglie volan via,
scappano prima che la notte le avvolga.
I corvi si disperdono, poi si riuniscono,
beccano e gracchiano, si agitano e gridano.
“Ecco arriva l’inverno, la fame, il freddo.
Ecco arriva il ghiaccio, la gragnola e la neve!
Arriva la miseria! Arriva la paura!
Ecco arrivano le lunghe e cupe notti d’inverno.”
La pioggia, instancabile, violenta, portata dal vento,
Corre lungo i campi incolti.
Dove sono i fiori e i prati estivi,
i venti mitigati dal sole e i cieli azzurri?


Ripened berries on the vine,
leaves of scarlet intertwined.
Summer’s passed and
autumn’s passing.
Winter is not far behind.

Snow will billow.
Snow will fall.
Soon the snow will cover all
but the berries on the vine
with leaves of scarlet intertwined
against the snow--


Bacche mature sulla vite,
foglie di scarlatto intrecciate.
L’estate è passata e
l’autunno sta passando.
L’inverno non è così lontano.

La neve verrà.
La neve cadrà.
Presto tutto coprirà
ma le bacche sulla vite
con le foglie di scarlatto intrecciate
davanti alla neve--
si tingon di rosso.

—Barbara Collignon, Milwaukee, WI
Translated into Italian by Roberto Ciampi, Perugia, Italy