poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

poetic forms

About this poet

Born in Affori, Italy on September 21, 1914, Emilio Villa spent most of his life in Rome.

Villa's numerous collections of poetry include Adolescenza (La Vigna Editrice, 1934), Oramai (Chart Tiberino Institute, 1947), E ma dopo (Argo, 1950), 17 variazioni su temi proposti per una pura ideologia fonetica (Origin, 1955), Le mûra di t, éb, é (Multimedia Gallery, 1981), and 12 Sibyllae (Castelvetro Piacentino, 1995), among others.

His many translations include a prose rendition of Homer's Odyssey (1964) as well as selections from The Bible. He also translated from Sumerian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and numerous dead languages.

Villa's interest in philology informed his work heavily, and he preferred to write in a dialect of Milan rather than in what he thought of as the problematically academic "Ytaglya" of the post-war period. He also commonly inserted ancient Greek, Provençal, French, and many other languages into his poems to create a complicated network informed by his studies.

In 1950, Villa moved to São Paulo where he fell in with the Brazilian concrete poets Haroldo and Augusto de Campos. Those involved with the "Noigandres" group were strongly influenced by writers such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and the visual poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire—all of which had a strong effect on his own writing.

Villa collaborated with a number of writers and artists in Italy and abroad, including Alberto Burri, Marcel Duchamp, as well as William Burroughs. He also had a strong influence on the next generation of neoavanguardia Italian writers—including those involved in Group 63, such as Umberto Eco and Adriano Spatola.

He died in Rietti, Italy in 2003.

Poetry is

poetry is evanescence

poetry is life sentence, release
	on words, liberté sur parole

poetry is a blind guide to an ancient
	enigma, to an inaccessible

poetry is an argument
	dynamic and jarring

poetry is a rag tag cos-
	mology we can 
	raise and wave, 
	it's a small (abregée) cos-
	mogony: unaware, 
	seamless, unstitched, 
	breathless, in tatters

poetry is to forget

poetry is to separate self from

poetry is what's completely
	left out

poetry is emptying without

poetry is constraint to the remote,
	to the not yet, the not
	now, the not here,
	the not there, the
	not before, neither not after,
	nor not now

poetry is breeching

poetry is to burn and give birth
	in the same vocal gesture

poetry is being-there multiplied
	by not being-there, remembering
	to trans-be-there traversely
	like a watershed

poetry is a misunderstanding about
	what I don't know exactly,
	but a misunderstanding

poetry is infinite impotence,
	limpid, lucid, hallucinated

poetry is intersection

poetry is a low blow

poetry is transit and exit

poetry is infusion and trans-fusion

poetry is memory of what is not
	and what must not be; that is
	the culminating, liminal Self
	the Self as an incomplete cosmos 
	never to be completed

poetry is tying—untying 

poetry is the ritual scene of
	infinite uncertainty, of the
	inaccessible Infermity

poetry is a streak
	a swerve
	a splay
	a spade

poetry is crib—cradle
        it's nook—needlei 
	of the Trans-Organ
	of the trans-organic
	of the Indistinct
	of the In(de)terminable

poetry is ash

poetry is diagonal
	it's ramble
	inside the manifest body
	of Universal Inexistence
	of Global Entropy

poetry is stiffened laziness
	an arm hanging from the 
	branch of the Tree of the Knowledge 
	of Good and Evil; that is 
	a Monkey in Brazil
	always hanging by an arm
	from the branch of a tree (it's the Preguiçaii )

poetry is terrorism in the domain of speech,
	a bang in the cloister of language 

	it's terror in the depths of rhetoric

poetry is liberation from knowing
	escape from the known
	a release from mechanics

and at the same time it's falling, sinking 
	into repetitive, obsessive, iterative
	mechanics, which are also the
	mechanics of hinting, of the
	norm, of ritual (of strict 
	obligation, of rhyme, of number,
	of essence)

poetry is the implosion of zero time 
	and in(de)finite degree

poetry is unleashing, un-phrasingiii, a potential 
	threat, breaking, robbing,

poetry is smashing, shattering, shaking

it's a clash between
strength and restraint
that tends to erase.
We are truly
infinitely mad

poetry is almost everything: that is everything, less
	what it really is

poetry is impermanence crossed with

it's impertinence

poetry is counter and encounter (spontaneous
	and predestined) between neurosis and unconscious,
	between archetype and Self

a monotonous and perpetuated ring between
	impulse and obsession

poetry is aggression

to write poetry is to cut slits, produce cracks,
	point out filaments in the
	curtain, in the Barred

poetry is a fight against the night

poetry is night against the night

poetry is a rub against the voice

poetry is friction against the Dragon's skin

poetry is this
	it's this and that
	and so be it

iIn the original Italian, this verse literally reads: it's cell—eye of the needle. Villa may have been thinking about the passage from the New Testament "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19: 23-24)
iiPerguiça literally means "sloth" in Portuguese. Here Villa uses it in reference to the mammal that dwells in the trees of South America, specifically those of Brazil, where he lived for three years.
iiiSfraso might derive from the verb "sfrasare," meaning to disrupt the phrase. It is, however, one of Villa's many neologisms and the interpretation offered here (un-phrasing) is merely hypothetical.

Copyright © 2012 by Emilio Villa and Dominic Siracusa.

Copyright © 2012 by Emilio Villa and Dominic Siracusa.

Emilio Villa

Emilio Villa

Villa had a strong influence on the next generation of neoavanguardia Italian writers—including those involved in Group 63

by this poet

It could be
that on any given
day air would travel
half-heartedly through the air,

maybe, but if Lake Garda fails to recover in time
all the dust eaten by cyclists in meaningless races,
and kilometers that don't count, good for nothing,

maybe, as long as the ozone and the horizontal rain
speak to traffic cops
What's new is that one can no longer keep
the eyelids of swept away young men open
with sharpened toothpicks, they're no longer alive:

what's new is the whitish eyes of Milanese
men upon the wires of trolleys, trams and poles;
don't tell me it's sad to go on looking sadly in each other's eyes!

what's new is