The Book of Giving Back
Selected for the Viareggio Prize
Winner of the Lorenzo Montano Prize
by Nanni Cagnone
EP 4: NANNI CAGNONE writes in THE BOOK OF GIVING BACK: A POEM: “We who dream about encountering the foundation of things are given infinite regression.” Or, as it were, the experience or gift of giving back, of peering into the void, in an unrelenting mirror-like act of restitution that would restore the formlessness of the source or origin of things as the source of all forms. A poetry of ontological restitution, of giving something back — no matter how intangible — rather than a relentless taking. Poetry in the great pagan narrative epic tradition of Homer and Whitman. We should mention that The Book of Giving Back was nominated for the prestigious Viareggio Prize in Italy, and recently won the Lorenzo Montano Prize. La Repubblica writes that it is a “negative reflection on our own publishing houses to leave it to an American one to publish a poem of such enormous distinction and merit. Cagnone is a poet who has found a way to link temporality, time and history, the living to the dead, and memory to desire. He compresses emotion through an intensity of thought that leaves us breathless.”
NANNI CAGNONE was born in the Italian province of Liguria in 1939. His books of poetry include What’s Hecuba to Him or He to Hecuba? (New York, 1975), Andatura (Milan, 1979), Vaticinio(Naples, 1984), Anima del vuoto (Bari, 1993) and Avvento (Bari, 1995). His first book of collected poems, Armi senza insegne, was published in Milan in 1988. THE BOOK OF GIVING BACK is Cagnone’s eleventh book of poetry.
First edition paperback, February 1998, 64 pp., sewn, bound, and printed in Italy, with a two-color cover and a black and white photograph of the author on the frontispiece. Bilingual edition with an English translation from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli.