Review of Tiziano FratusCreaturing



Creaturing by Tiziano Fratus is the book of a citizen who is able to look at history through its abstractions and details and find music where others saw propaganda, find humanity where others saw statistics, find remembering alive and afire, among things too many of us are ready to forget:


It is impossible to forget the germany of june thirtieth

Nineteeth thirty-four the germany of thirty-five the germany of march

Ninetheen thirty-nine the germany of the winter of forty one the germany

Of april thirtieth nineteen forty five


This is the poet who can look at documents and see music that tells the truth, a poet who knows that “death is born from the vocabulary from the syntax from the breath.” Tiziano Fratus is a public poet, a man unafraid of speaking in a full voice of a grown up, something we in the USA often shy away from. It is not to say, however, that all his poems are addresses to public history (although he is, admittedly, quite good in that realm of civic poetics) but to say that even in his private moments, he is able to capture the privacy that is more than just one human’s privacy; that is, his privacy is not confessional; it is universal. And, if he is a survivor, his survival is large, it applies to any of us: “I am a survivor, I feel my expiration date.” It is not a voice ready to give away childhood confessions and guilts in a way so many poets in confessional mode in USA are, but a voice  ready to “give away everything: birth / certificate, passport, house keys.” And when he is erotic, he is erotic in a full voice:


                   a rain

of freckles around her nose, and an irrepressible desire

to run with open hands


But what strikes me most about this book is how humane it is, how interested in human moments, details of our existence, its pains and its laughs. There are poems about “The Soccer Match on Sunday Morning” and “a Track Meet During the Giro d’Italia” and the portraits given to us, are quite memorable:


….dragging even the dog to

Saturday afternoon mass, seating him

Like a Christian on the footrest, crossing

His paws.


And, what is also moving, is how he brings this all back to our very moment in time:


It is impossible to forget the America of ninety thirty nine,

The America of nineteen seventy nine, the America of


Yes, the America of now. The daily terror of it. That a poet capable of doing this in verse as beautiful as Fratus’ has to come from Italy, then be it. But America needs this voice that tells the truth without patronizing and does so in a lyric that is memorable and sparkling. That this lyric is available to us now in English in beautiful translation is a cause for celebration.


--Ilya Kaminsky & Kathryn Farris