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The winner of Struga Bridges award, Gerardo Massuccio struggling with his identity as a poet

Ana Chushkova

30 авг. 2022 г.

Literature does not lose power at the
borders. Or it is not literature. When a novel that is a hundred years old continues to speak to me, for me
it deserves to be republished.

DIVA: My journey through Your poetry, was “long and winding”, curious, and I consistently came to the following impression: The silence in your verses, rings off in a way a beloved guest leaves, and you sit in their absence: the glass on the table, the cushion on the floor… all of these are filling in the emptiness but resonates the silence even louder. The language - even though I read your poetry in four languages, always pedantic, clean, uncomplicated, but communicates complexity to the degree of existentialism. But it’s still an everyday language, that is atmospheric. The very last thing I read from the Fin Qui Visse Un Uomo.. was “Ma i poeti migliori hanno scelto il silenzio” . Do you live in silence, where is it if you do, is it a place, and is it synonymous with emptiness? And do the Poet and the Publisher ever meet or it’s the same man with two different hats?

Gerardo Massuccio: I write in my absence. And absence is the home of silence. I exist, of course. As a man, as an editor. Butas a poet – if I am indeed a poet – I feel posthumous in relation to my verses. I contemplate myself andmy life from a dimension that is obviously not death yet, but a limbo. When I write, I need to strip myselfof time, this heavy garment that alters my features, that alters the features of every man. Beyond time,silence is absolute and is the only language. To give word to silence, through poetry, is the highestexpression of the absurd. And life, for me, is nothing but absurd. The immediacy of language is meant tocompensate for the complexity of these contradictions.

DIVA: You are the editor - in - chief of Utopia. The merit for publishing, in choosing the titles, is not in the potential of the numbers of the books being sold, but you’ve raised the bet, and cast Utopia in the role of the tastemakers: Utopia is the publisher of books that simply have to be recommended. So where does the needle point, of a young publishing house that has taken upon itself to dictate European culture, more specifically literature? Is it more on the side of fulfilling and invigorating, or frustrating and taxing? Or maybe all of the above?

GM: I am merely a reader who edits other people's books. When I find myself reading a book that seems able –and it is very rare – to overcome the challenge of time and space, two chains to which man is bound, I tryto publish it. Literature does not grow old. Or it is not literature. Literature does not lose power at theborders. Or it is not literature. When a novel that is a hundred years old continues to speak to me, for meit deserves to be republished. When a book arrives in Italy from the other side of the world, but continuesto speak to me, for me it deserves to be translated. The rest lasts a season. Of enormous success, perhaps.But who cares? A good editor, in my opinion, must not be dazzled by the moment. Literature is always.Or it is not literature. Then, when there are thousands of readers who rely on the choices of a publishinghouse, as in the case of Utopia, everything is more exciting. The real judgment on my work as an editor,however, will be made by readers who are not born yet. It is for them that I work.

DIVA: You have mentioned in a previous interview, that the condition on which you choose books to publish is - the possibility to escape the time and place, or cultures: If two centuries from now, someone on the other side of the world could connect and read the book - you have said - then you would consider it a good candidate for publishing it (In Utopia). What criteria, on the other hand, do you set for yourself, in your work, your process as a poet: do you have a question, a condition that “allows” you to release your work into the world?

-No writer, in my opinion, is able to evaluate his own work with lucidity, even if he is an editor. The writerof the text does not just read what he has written, like other readers. He knows the intentions andambitions of the text, and continues to read, in the written text, what he has not written, what is in hishead. The only help comes from time. Many months or even years later, a writer can read his own versesthrough the eyes of another person. Therefore, if I have no suspicion about the talent of those who writetoo much, I have many about that of those who publish too much. A good poet allows himself time tobecome his own editor.Fin qui visse un uomo risked not being published. I would have liked to get rid of it. It was a friend, poetherself, who knew the verses, who prevented me from doing so and, with the complicity of my partner,Laura, who coordinated with the publisher.

DIVA: It’s striking and something you probably hear a lot: your youth in contrast to the timeless quality of the classic (and in the case of Grazia Deledda: discover), and expose them to new generations, and fresh sets of eyes. Even though, on Instagram, when announcing the Struga poetry festival, you humbly remark that the string of names that end in - Yours is baffling to You. But creatively and professionally you seem to be in a position of a man, an artist, a poet that is well into their mid-life stage, and this hypothetical man, barely remembers the youth you inhabit. Do you think this position can be dangerous, creatively, and disorienting? Or besides the “pinch me” moments you barely pay it any mind?

As a reader or an editor, I have a deep complicity with authors, classical or living, whom I have never metin person. As Montale writes, «è possibile, lo sai, amare un'ombra, ombre noi stessi». This is an attempt toescape from the prison of time, too. Here, free, I feel I am the same age as Virgil, Petrarch and Ungaretti. Isuggest, however, reading them. I am not sure I am a poet.

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