For over thirty years Valerio Magrelli has represented Italian poetry to the world. Inarguably the most influential poet of his generation in Italy, the oeuvre he has thus far established has ensured his place as one of the few poets able to look eye to eye with his nation’s iconoclastic predecessors. And yet, this language of grandeur does not seem apropos in describing a work built on agility of thought, deftness of expression, a modest, good-natured gesturing to the immense power of poetry which, in and of itself, locates that very power. Valerio Magrelli is a poet whose work has the authority to wake his readers, to bring their focus back to the poem itself, as a thing, not as a product of a poet first and foremost. Consistently, it is this eloquent and energetic intellect which resonates through his work and reminds us of the heights that the Italian language and the Italian poetry tradition can reach. For the 81st edition of Maintenant, Valerio Magrelli. Thanks to Jan Wagner, Federico Italiano & Jamie McKendrick.
Accompanying the interview are four poems, taken from the book ‘Valerio Magrelli: The Embrace’ Faber & Faber 2009, translated by Jamie McKendrick.
For this remarkable undertaking, Jamie McKendrick won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and the John Florio Prize.