851: Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness by Milo De Angelis

by Gerard

851.914: De Angelis, Milo. Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness: A Selection of Poems, 1970-1999. Translated by Emanuel Di Pasquale. New York: Chelsea Editions, 2003. 193 pp. ISBN 0-9725271-0-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 850: Italian Literature
  • 851: Italian Poetry
  • 851.91: 20th Century Italian Poetry
  • 851.914: Italian Poetry, 1945-1999

One of the many constants with poetry is that since poems are supposed to be densely packed morsels of language, they tend to portray very short snippets of time, and each person or object in the snippet is mined for emotional resonance. This makes the emotions in a poem more intense than most prose. And when the words are that intense, the reader is left with an overwhelming sense of almost artificial gravitas after encountering a book-length collection of poems. Milo De Angelis’s Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness is no different.

This collection contains selections from his first five books of poetry. De Angelis’s poems are presented in a facing-page translation style. On the left of each page set is the poem in the original Italian, faced on the right with Emanuel Di Pasquale’s English translation. While this has the effect of cutting the available poems in half, it gives the reader the ability to explore the sound as well as the meaning of the poem in its original state.

The “blast furnaces” of the title evoke the Italian Years of Lead in which De Angelis wrote his first books, when assassinations were commonplace and threatened to tear apart the new Italian Republic. With De Angelis’s works, his simpler pieces are his best. Many of his longer works stretch the metaphor a little too thin for my taste. “Seven-Thirty News” excels in this respect, opening with the lines with which I leave you:

I lived here, in a box
of space, together with the fossilized shadows
and the lamented madman who hurled himself into the open.


P.S. I’m still running the “panhandling” campaign at Indiegogo [link]. If you’re as invested in this quest as I am, then a little help will go a long way towards its completion, which as of right now, is slated for August 2018. And, as always, I appreciate your input and advice. If you’re not into the whole charity thing, then the other way to help out (if you want to) is to order a reviewed book through the link in the citation. You get what you want, and I get a small cut of Amazon’s proceeds. ‘Nuff said.