The Italian Riveter: ADORATION TO THE WORD 1 by Mariangela Gualtieri, translated by Cristina Viti

I love you word
sign, sound of our human self
placed inside a throat that so very slowly
was formed for you
to speak a thing exactly
to speak water, bread, grass,
earth – all of the world’s names.
And also the unseen:
fear, dream,
nostalgia, abandon.

Down so many eras, in the tight knot
of the animal a sound was struggling
through grunt, through breath, death rattle, drool.
How it reared
this strange form that we were
how it strained
to finally come to say: ‘I love’,
‘I forgive you’, ‘I think’, ‘I am’,
to speak the entire world
from crevice to star.

I love you word.
Out of a lust for you,
for you, to speak you, all of the face
burst through the snout
and was made clear field
was made countenance and lips, and the breath
the delicate bellows to support you
and blow you out into the world’s wide open,
where you fully become what you are, and fly,
ring out, and never stay but go free.

I love you word.
I don’t know if you are human invention
or if it’s us who come from you.
I don’t know if you hold the call
the priming of a world beyond the world.
I don’t know if it’s true that you sing the universe
that you support it.

You are crowned in your silence.
You are the most perilous of all gifts.

By Mariangela Gualtieri

Translated by Cristina Viti

From Opening Voice (A Sound Ritual)

Venice Biennale Teatro (2020)

Published by Puntoacapo (2019)


Read The Italian Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

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Mariangela Gualtieri is an Italian author of several award-winning poetry collections, and co-founder and principal playwright of the Teatro della Valdoca. A selection of her poems in English translation, Beast of Joy, was published by Chelsea Editions in 2018.


Cristina Viti is a translator and poet working with Italian, English and French. Her most recent publication was a co-translation of poems by Anna Gréki (The Streets of Algiers and Other Poems, Smokestack Books, 2020). Her translation of Elsa Morante’s The World Saved by Kids and Other Epics (Seagull Books, 2016) was shortlisted for the John Florio Prize.

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