Archipelago is a bilingual selection of poems by the leading Italian poet Antonella Anedda drawn from five collections she has published in Italy. Her poetry has a searing, disruptive quality, an honesty that is hard won. Her words have the air of breaking the silence reluctantly, and they keep the silence with them. This stringent, ferrous element sets her at odds with the eloquence and lyricism characteristic of the Italian poetic tradition, and may owe something to an alternative nationality, a different landscape.
Though born in Rome (in 1958), she comes from a Sardinian family and has passed a great deal of her life between the capital and a small island, La Maddalena, off the coast of Sardinia. The languages she was brought up hearing were Logudorese, Catalan from Alghero, and Corsican French mixed with the dialect of La Maddalena – and of late she has found herself also writing a number of poems in Logudorese.
While her poems have a geographical sweep, there is also an insistence on domestic detail – balconies, crockery, sewing, cooking: elements often considered too humble to warrant poetic attention. But even here they are often set against a backdrop of war and insecurity, and a poem in these surroundings, such as her ‘Kitchen’, is as likely to be the site of a haunting.
Her first book, Winter Residences, already posited an elsewhere, that of St Petersburg, and an elective affinity with another culture. With time, and with the emergence of her next four books of poetry, this sense of apartness has increased, as has the force and particularity of her language – and has made her, along with Valerio Magrelli, one of the most valued and original poets of her generation.