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Antonella Anedda: Encounters with Silence, the Page, and the World

by Shannon K. Winston

Antonella Anedda, one of today’s most prominent and promising Italian women poets, once called poetry her “reality.” In that same interview with Niederngasse in 2006, she explains that poetry is “the way [she has of] opening [herself] to the world, with verses, with rhythms that [she has] in [her] head and it is on this score that [she works] when [she writes] on the page” (translation mine). For Anedda, poetry is therefore an implicitly musical genre that unfolds on a register that differs from prose; it allows for a greater space of silence, contemplation of human existence, and death. The speaker of “Nocturnes,” for example, urges the reader to “Accept this silence: the world caught in the dark of/ the throat like a stiffened animal, like/ the stuffed boar that sparkled in the cellar during/ October storms” (Poetry International Web). Night, just like writing itself, becomes place not only reflection but also of a critical examination of the self and its position in an increasingly volatile world. In fact, many of Anneda’s work is grounded in ethical concerns about war and injustice, which are the central themes of Notti di pace occidentale. Rather than assuming a safe and privileged position within work, Anedda and her speaker are deeply entangled in the struggles that she grapples with. She ties contemporary and literal wars with her battle with language in the poetic process. In “This language has no innocence,” her speaker begins: “This language has no innocence/ listen to how speeches break up/ as if also here there were a war” (www.lyrikline.org). How, she seems to ask, can the poet and reader remain innocent in a world where there is injustice? Here, like elsewhere in her poetry, Anneda complicates issues of agency, guilt, and hope for a more peaceful future. Here, however, her hope is intermingled with doubt that she, as a poet, can effect change: “I write with patience/ to the eternity I don’t believe in./ Slowness comes to me from silence” (16-1Cool (Ibid)). Silence, then, becomes a predominant theme in Anedda’s work as the place where change becomes possible.

Another distinguishing feature of Anedda’s poetry is the diminished “I” of the speaker. Rather, the “I” becomes a distanced observer that attempts—but sometimes fails—to grasp the present moment/moments in the poem. “I don’t like invasiveness,” she says and then goes on to say: “I don’t like texts in which the narrative “I” is too present, in which [the “I”] confesses itself” (Niederngasse). This distancing mode is prevalent in Anedda’s entire corpus and reflects her greater poetic vision “to write in order to disappear, so that life is revealed to [her], without [her], [her] face at last more blurred than the whiteness of the paper, bereft of reflection. A world where one can forget oneself. Not a mirror, but a stone” (Poetry International Web).” For Anedda then, poetry and truth—as it leads to a greater understanding of the world—emerges out of a desire to capture more than individual experience; it reaches beyond the self and the page to grapple with both contemporary and timeless struggles that continue to shape our existence. In undertaking this task, Anneda writes with a grace and humility that cannot help but to enthrall readers.

For more information on the life and works of Antonella Anedda, please visit Poetry International Web.

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