Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Flower of Youth - Mary di Michele

Today's book of poetry - The Flower of Youth ( Pier Paolo Pasolini Poems).  Mary di Michele. ECW Press.  Toronto.  2011.

To prepare for Mary di Michele's The Flower of Youth, I went to the shelf and pulled down Pier Paolo Pasolini's Roman Poems translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Francesca Valente.   Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian poet who became a film maker.  He was born in 1922 in Bologna and murdered in Ostia, near Rome, in 1975.  Pasolini was politically persecuted for "moral unworthiness".  He was homosexual at a very dangerous time.

di Michele's latest book of poetry (she has ten published volumes thus far) is really poetry disguising an autobiographical novel.  di Michele inhabits the young Pasolini well enough that these poems sound and feel and smell as though Pier Paolo had penned them himself.

Although WWII was crashing down all around him with its' terrible consequences, Pasolini/di Michele is only obsessed with the beauty he sees in boys.  These poems are a coming of age for a young man, an emerging artist and a strong Catholic.  His faith guides him, that and other obvious contradictions between his personal battles and the repressive culture of Italy at that time.

For me, the biggest impression this book made on me was through the poems about desire and longing.

The dew had dried but the stones, gravel
from the river bank, still glistened; in the grove
where we lay together the Earth trembled
            with the passing of trains.

excerpt from the poem Hidden Corners/The Earth Moves

di Michele captures Pasolini's desperate plunge towards desire, young love and the brutal consequences of aspiring for perfect love in such an imperfect world.

Pasolini would like these poems very much and so will you.  di Michele has re-imagined herself as a young Italian man only to prove that The Flower of Youth is eternally in full bloom.

http://www.ecwpress.com/