Squittii is the latest poetic collection by the writer Roberto Gaudioso, conceived as a linguistic and sound journey. It is an adventure in the center of the Mediterranean, across states and continents, a journey that does not neglect any place: Naples, the Phlegraean Fields, the dramatic massacres of castaways. Discover the itinerary and the interview with the author!
Hello Roberto! Can you tell us how you chosed the title of your latest book?
First of all the connection with singing: mice can sing, there is also a tale by Kafka about it, “Josephine the singer and the people of mice”. Then the mice are something that moves on the ground, in lived-in places, markets, this horizontal movement that in Squittii involves both peripheries and distant geographies.
An important element, however, is the fact that we cannot listen to the song of the mice, this element made me think of the multilingualism of my poems, if you think about it, the combination of languages I use sometimes can make us think of this incommunicability, of the fact that this song cannot be read. I know what a risk, but I can’t do otherwise. That’s why I opened a youtube channel where I read both my poems and those that I translate from Swahili.
For those unfamiliar with him, Roberto Gaudioso is a poet, researcher, editor of international magazines who boasts various publications: “Camere Contigue” dates back to 2008, his literary debut. The projects developed with various visual artists have resulted in: two complementary volumes (2014), the 2012 art booklet called “DNA” and the workbook (from 2016) derived from the project with Mariangela Levita.
In short, the writer soon showed a predisposition to performance and experimentalism, combining the intensity of polymorphic words with painting, photography and, sometimes, even with the theater.
Would you comment on the difference between the two types of experiences: the projects developed together with contemporary artists and Squittii’s “solitary”, but no less fertile writing?
By working with other artists, our path joins that of another, you create a project. I love to write, letting myself be inspired by the work of others. This is not to say that it is only the writing that follows the artwork. Every collaboration is different.
For example, in the parallel librettos I made with Emanuele Gregolin we experienced a parallel path, in “Precessione” the writing followed his work, while in “Faglie” the opposite happened; obviously there were points of union in both works, represented above all by Gregolin’s works on my manuscripts.
However, the project which represented a rather long common path (made up of dialogues and continuous planning and redesign of the work) was “attraverso di te” with Mariangela Levita . With her, the path became one, for a year we talked without asking ourselves where we would land, in 2016 our workbook came out and we organized a site specific in an abandoned apartment in the center of Naples . From there, was born the collaboration with the director Ivan Specchio who did not make a documentary, but joined our research and another artistic product came out.
Currently, with Mariangela, we are completing our second stage: “attraversare l’attraversato“. There are different ways of working, but each artist, I’m sure even the future ones (at the moment I’m working with Prisco De Vivo) have marked my writing. Cooperating is also risky and tiring, there can be several misunderstandings, but working together for me is a happy way of working, it brings me joy, and then it is an antidote to self-centeredness and to the claim of originality and originality.
However, I consider solitary work necessary and a prerequisite for everything. My writing, for example, is linked to different places, but only to places where I have been alone for a long time. Solitude helps me to poetically restore a place, to have a dialogue with it, to experience it; it is the same with poetry.
Already in the first lines of the recent collection, a volcanic lexicon seems to allude to the Phlegraean territory, in Pozzuoli, Lake Avernus, Miseno, but the author decisively broadens his perspective. It moves towards the Green Island, Ischia, clearly mentioned in a romantic composition, with the fishing light attractor as a background. Then he moves to the city crossroads of Piazzetta Montesanto, very recognizable in “Grappoli d’uomini fuoriusciti dalle stazioni“, with the crowd that gushes from the trains, the Vecchio Pellegrini, the Pignasecca market and his humanity.
After an intense passage in Spain, with a rhapsodic and lively tone, we reach Africa, a continent told without myths, where the dances are punctuated by the thundering of drums, teenagers join up, there is no water and light, where roadblocks meet on the street, but above all a place of culture, so much so that Roberto Gaudioso dedicates a composition to the Tanzanian poet Kezilahabi in which he defines him as his teacher. On this journey, which is a profound source of enrichment, borders are nothing more than “a surface of water” and “difference happens like a scream in the sea of equality” (cit.).
Could you tell us more about the poem set in Montesanto?
“It is the text that most of all I wrote in one go, at the moment of inspiration. Of course, I made some corrections afterwards, but few. I left the subway following the flow of people, arriving in Piazzetta Montesanto, our flow was joined by that of the Cumana and Circumflegrea trains, I stopped there at the turnout, observing the Pignasecca market and I wrote. “
The stages of the itinerary: Lake Averno
In the poem “all’idea del PRNTT” the author refers to Lake Avernus. It seems that the name, in Greek “without birds”, was due to the gaseous fumes that prevented its transit. The tour around the crater lake, on whose banks you can admire the Temple of Apollo, is ideal for those who love walking outdoors, for sports enthusiasts or for a picnic. Tennis shoes and, in summer, mosquito spray are recommended.
The forest of Zaro, in Ischia
In the romantic poem “-te le ricordi le lucciole?“, Gaudioso evokes the green landscapes of the Bosco di Zaro.Once you have reached the island (by ferry or hydrofoil, from Calata Porta di Massa, from Molo Beverello, from Mergellina or from the port of Pozzuoli), in the Mediterranean scrub area, located between Forio and Lacco Ameno, you can arrive by bus (from Ischia Porto or Casamicciola, towards Forio).
The Pignasecca market
In “Grappoli d’uomini fuoriusciti dale stazioni”, Piazzetta Montesanto can be clearly seen, reachable by metro line 1, but also from the Vomero district with the funicular of the same name.
Here, every day, until 20 pm, they sell food, clothing, underwear, street food and typical products. It is one of the most characteristic areas of Naples, whose name dates back to 1500, when the place was proliferating of vegetable gardens.
When Via Toledo was built, all the vegetation was cut down and only one pine survived, in Neapolitan “pigna” (in English: “pine cone”). Since many magpies nested in the only tree with the habit of robbing passers-by, an archbishop of the time excommunicated the birds. By nailing the seal to the trunk, the “pine cone” went dry.