Following my latest post – alas, of some time ago – I’d like to give you another podcast of poetry reading.

I’d like to making these podcasts a reagular feature of RadioRockTO, your favourite PodRadio (TO stands for “The Original”), in a column called “La Parola e il Suono”: I have currently presented at very irregular intervals three readings (Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”, Gregory Corso’s “Bomb” and the latest, Dino Campana’s “Il Viaggio e il Ritorno”). My plan is to propose new podcasts with a regular cadence, maybe every three weeks…

This third issue of “La Parola e il Suono” is dedicated to “Il viaggio e il ritorno”, taken from Dino Campana’s “Canti Orfici”.

Campana is one of the most important Italian poets of the early XX century. Plagued by bouts of mental instability that society and medicine of that time were able to treat only by locking you in asylums, he used traveling to somehow come to terms with his nightmares.

Campana’s poetry can be vaguely referred to as symbolist: the Canti Orfici are an oneiric journey between dream and wake, with powerful language and structure, so that Pier Paolo Pasolini even made a comparison to the contemporary Cubism.

Click on the device below to hear my reading (in Italian, eh)…

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Gregory Corso’s Bomb

March 16, 2007

Poetry is word and sound, and strength.
It can open consciousnesses, change the world, change ourselves. Poetry is sheer emotion.

I have started a new column on RadioRockTo, your trustworthy PodRadio, called “La Parola e il Suono” (The Word and the Sound), where the apple of your eye i.e. the undersigned very shamelessly reads poetry: the first issue was dedicated to Allen Ginsberg‘s “Howl”; the second, available for downloading as of tomorrow, is dedicated to Gregory Corso and its renowned “Bomb”.

“Bomb” is a magnificent invocation written at the height of the Cold War (published in 1960), full of a sweet and ironical apocalyptic visionary, an explosion of onomatopoeic images that proclaim an empathic and endless love for a mankind so irremediably and stupidly self-injurer.

Now I’d like to experiment with WordPress audio possibilities: I will try to insert below the podcast containing the reading of “Bomb”. The podcast is about 15 minutes long and is, alas, in Italian: I don’t trust my English pronunciation that much…

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On Wednesday 20 December 2006 Il Bisbigliatore will organise a Pataphysical Freak-Out Happening dedicated to the Winter Solstice, @ the Rockodile, a pub and wine-bar in via delle Tre Cannelle 9, right in the centre of Rome.

star1a.gifThe event will consist of poetry and prose readings with Michele de Vitis, music selected and mixed by Stefano Carbutti and yours truly (and maybe by some other podcaster of Radio Rock TO…), improvised painting with Alberto Antonucci, video projections and all the rest.star2a.gif

Winter solstice is a very strong symbol in the whole ancient world, from Celts to Scandinavians, from Germans to Romans. Celebrated under many names (Yuletide in the north of the world, Saturnalia among the Romans) it has been swallowed up by Christians, that have put their celebration for Jesus’ birth on top of it.

sun3.gifBe it as it may, the shortest day of the year is therefore also a symbol of rebirth: we have reached the bottom, it will still be cold for a couple of months, but the sun will shine a little longer every day that passes… Such will be our theme. Music, as in every PFOH, will be rather on the psychedelic side…

Come, all ye of good will!!!

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UPDATE
Aldo Semenuk, dj podcaster of Radio Rock TO as myself, will be part of the event with his musical selections

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logo3_nero.jpgFinally the blog of Il Bisbigliatore, the micro publishing house very underground of whose staff I’ve been part of for some years, is on and running.

Il Bisbigliatore has already published a book of poetry that has sold more than 400 copies so far (go and ask the big publishing houses how many copies they sell for a poetry book…), another one is about to be published, we have organised many events & happenings with great success of both critic and public – one of them, very important, in memory of Gregory Corso.
We haven’t uploaded yet all the content we want to upload, but you can already get an idea. Meanwhile, you can find below our statement of intentions…

Il Bisbigliatore (the Whisperer) appears in a 1969 novel of William S. Burroughs (“The Last Words of Dutch Schultz”).

Il Bisbigliatore is a mutant organism in which artists and ideas converge: an underground dream in the nobler meaning of the word, built from scratch with the contribution of those who cannot help but rebel to the loss of value of the individual.

Experimenting around the territories of communication through the production of works of different nature and the organisation of events, happenings and exhibitions in which such works are presented, Il Bisbigliatore aims principally at stimulating the individual thinking and the confrontation with what is imposed to him/her, with the hoped-for result of widening the cultural, emotional and intellectual horizon, for all those involved.

A whisper in favour of mankind, this time

Stay tuned, we will very soon propose new events & happenings, then we will post some excerpts of prose and poetry from our authors. In short, we won’t twiddle our thumbs…

P.S.
The blog is in Italian, but if you want something translated, just ask me.
While I’m at it, the title of this post is the English translation of the Italian translation of W.S. Burroughs, as we have only the Italian edition of “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz”. If any of you could help with the original wording, we would be really grateful…

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One Big Damn Puzzler

October 28, 2006

Imagine a small, remote, exotic and sweetly primitive island.

There live a whole bunch of good-natured islanders – some of them have somehow lost a limb or two. Among the characters, an old one-legged sorcerer, called Managua, that is trying to translate Shakespeare’s Hamlet into the local pidgin English in order to stage it for his fellow islanders; some suspicious-looking “girls” who get their flashy bras and shoes from a mysterious white Miss; another powerful sorcerer, some angry wives and some beautiful girls.

puzzler.jpgThe islanders have of course many taboos (for instance only men can eat a hallucinogenic sweet and get in contact with their dead relatives, or shit all together while exchanging amiable conversation in a social setting, on a beach that is subsequently washed at high tide…) but sex, or death, are not one of them. And magic seems still to work effectively.

There arrives a young American with an agenda, full of good intentions and affected by a somehow bearable form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
His arrival starts a snowball series of events that, for better or worse, will change the life of everybody…

This is a terribly incomplete description of “One Big Damn Puzzler”, by John Harding (Black Swan, 2006).

The tale of how the islanders lose their innocence is full of inventiveness and packed with carefully intertwined episodes; drama, comedy and grotesque are perfectly mixed together: you laugh a lot, and, when it is time, you get moved to tears.
You can even read the best rendition of an attack of jealousy I’ve ever found in a book – it perfectly matched my own experiences in the field… 😉

And in the end Harding masterly manages to bring together all the lines he has thrown out: everything goes at its place, everything gets its proper conclusion.
You do not see this very often accomplished, and it is the sign of great authorship.

This is really one of the best book I’ve read in the last few years. Warmly recommended.

P.S.
The title is nothing less than Managua’s translation of one of the most famous verses of the Great Bard:
“Is be, or is be not, is be one big damn puzzler…”


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Thistles at the House of Dun

Back to our travel to Scotland.
When I was looking in the Net for interesting events in the Fringe I searched for a concert of Emily Smith, who is one of the most beautiful voices in Scottish modern folk.

She wasn’t performing in the Fringe, but she had a gig in Montrose, in another festival called The Hairst. She was supposed to play in something called “Ballads and Bothy Ballads” together with other artists. As she’s really good, we bought the tickets.

The venue for the event was a place called the House of Dun – I didn’t look any further about it. We were expecting a “normal” concert in a “normal” venue so we were in for a big surprise when we got there in the evening of August 16.

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The House of Dun is a stunning Georgian House with fabulous Victorian gardens, designed by William Adam in 1730, enlisted in the National Trust for Scotland!

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We went from surprise to surprise: we were welcomed by the owners, complimentary glasses of wine were offered, the audience was no more than 50 people, the event was taking place in the Saloon and Dining Room, which had a big fireplace, was hung with family portraits and decorated with the most magnificent plasterwork on the walls and ceilings…

houseofdun1.jpgThen the artists came in, and simply sat on chairs facing the audience. One by one, they stood up and told a story or sang a song with voice alone, except a guy who accompanied himself with acoustic guitar and mouth harp. No mics, no amplification.
Only every now and then the singer was somehow accompanied by the others that hummed harmonies almost by themselves.
It was amazing! It was just like being among friends on a cosy and carefree night, and hearing the perfect intonation of all those solo singings was such a treat…

Stories were told or sung about lost and found love, hard work and frolics and drinks, ghosts and charmed tatty bogos that become beautiful lads when kissed by beautiful lassies…
I must say that I had some difficulties understanding everything, as when it wasn’t Gaelic from the Hebrides it was pure Scottish…
Funny stories set the audience roaring with laugh, sad tales produced more than one quicly hidden teardrop on many eyes…
What an evening! We just wished it never ended!

And now, let me introduce you the artists:

Scott Gardiner
A young guy from Forfar, who was the Master of Ceremonies and who sung funny and sad ballads from farmlands of the North East Scotland. If I understood correctly, one of the songs was about one of the very first combined harvester, boldly painted in yellow and red, that in the end killed its proud owner…

Margaret Bennet
A lady with a beautifully pure voice, singing songs, mostly in Gaelic, from her home island of Skye. Love, emigration, hard life… the lives of fishermen in joy and sorrow.

Emily Smith
She was the reason why we were there – we were just lucky that searching for a piece of gold we found a whole treasure.
She’s oh so good, at her ease both in strictly traditional ballads and in more modern songs.
Really, you should get some of her recordings!

Jim Malcolm
The guy with the guitar.
What astonished me was the ease of his voice, warm and expressive. We didn’t know then, but Jim is quite famous in Scotland, having also been the singer of the celebrated band Old Blind Dogs. In 2004 he won two awards by the Scots Traditional Music Society, as Songwriter of the Year, and as Scottish Folk Band of the Year with Old Blind Dogs.

Stanley Robertson
To some extent, the most astonishing number. Close to his seventies, Stanley is a tall, imposing gentleman with a powerful voice and a funny glint in his eyes. A natural storyteller, he also sung with unflinching assurance through some really harmonically and melodically difficult Gaelic tunes.
His were the ghost stories and the one about the poor Tatty Bogo that said “I loooooooooove you” to the beautiful lassie…

The beautiful lassie

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The Castle from the south side

Very well, here I am, writing my first “proper” post after my summer holidays in Scotland and a minor bout of laziness.
My good friend Ale, who manages the Angolo Nero blog, said in her comment that I had lost a good occasion to write a travelling blog. I don’t know… in retrospect, I can see a number of reasons why I didn’t even think of doing that.

First, I didn’t want to bring with me my somewhat battered, modem-powered, beloved old PowerBook G3.
Second, Internet cafés in Edinburgh are a bit costly. They could even ask 1 pound sterling for 20 min. Let’s say that the bargain is about 1,50 – 1,20 pounds per hour. It is still a bit expensive, if you ask me.
Third, Internet cafés can be found only in big cities – not in the middle of Glen Coe, just to make an example.
Fourth, and most important, I usually want to be totally immersed in my journeys. I do not like to filter my experiences through writing about them, or through filming them. I can write about them later. That’s why I am here now.
I took some pictures, though… 🙂

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Now, let’s start with Edinburgh and its festival, or festivals, I’d better say.

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This year was the Fringe 60th anniversary. Numbers at the end of the fair are impressive: 71 million hits on the website, more than 1,5 million tickets sold, 333 venues (proper theatres and halls, churches, pubs, yards, cellars, caves…), more than 28000 performances, more than 17000 artists…
More than 1800 shows, from comedy to music, from theatre to children’s shows, from dance to art exhibitions; and many other events, including food, wine and whisky tasting plus some show or other, Shakespeare at breakfast (free coffees and croissants), pub crawling with accompanying music, you name it.

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Anybody can present a show at the Fringe. Its staff is very helpful, suggesting procedures, ways for finding a venue, and so on.

But a great deal also goes on in the streets.

Flyerers in High Street

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There’s the crowd in High Street (part of the Royal Mile ), where hundreds of youngsters hand you flyers of shows, doing their best to tell you why you shouldn’t miss it. In 15 minutes you can collect a bookful of flyers… Most of the times it’s the artists themselves that do the job.

Then you have all sort of buskers, jugglers, acrobat, street artists in general. Just wandering around you can enjoy yourself for a whole day.

The Mound is another venue for artists showcasing their performance. So if you’re not sure whether something is worth the ticket, you may be lucky to see an excerpt.

I saw there a showcase that was almost the whole show (that was going on in an important theatre), by a Japanese collective called “Jump!”: they mixed martial arts, clownerie and music in a nice package.

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We didn’t see many shows: even going for cheap tickets you can reach quite an expenditure seeing something every day – as you would like to do…
Then some shows we wanted to see (Jason Byrne, Ed Byrne – no relatives, Danny Bhoy) were sold out even before the start of the Fringe.
These are the things we managed to see:

CHANBARA
A Japanese show mixing taiko drumming and sword (katana) choreographies. The latter were performed by the group that worked with Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill’s sword scenes.

MUMMENSCHANZ
The legendary, beautiful, playful show of mime, mask, puppetry by the Swiss-Italo-American group. I last saw them at the end of the Eighties…

DAVID O’DOHERTY
A stand-up comedian from Ireland smashing corporations and human stupidity in general, aiding himself with a cheap Casio toy keyboard…

ANDY PARSON’S INTERNATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP MOANING
ROTFL for one of the best stand-up comedians and his ferocious social and political satire.

EDDI READER
A superb Glaswegian folk (but not only) singer, one of the mellowest, honey-toned and at the same time powerful voices I’ve ever listened to. After having done backing vocals for, among others, Eurythmics, she embarked in a solo career that has topped (IMHO) in 2003 with an album of songs based on Robert Burns poems.
The concert was absolutely fantastic. She was in top form and the band followed suit. Just perfect.

BOTH SIDES OF THE BAR
A play staged in a pub, about a successful actor, his fiancé (to whom he’s unfaithful) and a wannabe actor who has to work in the pub to support himself and who’s secretly in love with the other’s fiancée… Sort of fun, the three actors were much better than the play itself. I confess I went because of the free beer included in the ticket…

victoria-street.jpgAnd then there’s Edinburgh itself, its museums, pubs, gardens…
Beautiful, full of life and of kind people.

A city that doubles its popolation during the festivals month and still manages to look normal, as if guests from the whole world just belonged there and were part of the city texture.

A joy to be there.

P.S.

Re-reading everything, it may seems that I picked up the Scottish spirit for parsimony, but I strongly deny such hint…
Showcase at the Scott Monument