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From THE ALCHEMY OF NERVES by Pasquale di Palmo


Bertozzi’s narration proceeds through different techniques, which vary according to a situation that is being described in a given moment; yet, in all the chapters of this long poem, there is a clear tendency to compromise the logos by using reality’s most disturbing and sordid elements. In such a scenario, all the repetitive variations and impromptus, which may recall the harsh and grieved pronunciation of Amelia Rosselli, imply a multi-levelled reading which cannot be solved with a clear and linear dynamics, yet it refers to other possible developments. The collection abounds both in explicit and encrypted quotations, which not only come from the literary sphere. Nevertheless, it is evident how hard is for the poet to govern such an incandescent matter with the means of a language that has lost its original quality of immediateness of communication. As even the word has been violated, it can do nothing but to happily plunge “into the magma” of history in order to land to a “small salvation”: “Poetry, singing, is a holding back, a small paralysis of the event”, observes the poet.
Here we find the same disturbing approach to language already seen in a poet such as Marina Cvetaeva. Roberta builds up her verbal castles by climbing from one tower to another with the recklessness of an acrobat, as she writes “Under the sign of Orion’s constellation / the urban territory [that] glitters / and releases exhalations deadly to our senses”. It seems like the laments of the drifting brothers are echoed along the flow of every rivulet crossing through modern anonymous suburbs. There is no distinction between a landscape in Bavaria and one in Hamelin, Rouen, or in the Parisian banlieue: “placed against the walls of Europe – ray / of darkness stretching / and forks a branching - the slow weight / of clouds is dotting the whole figure / sitting at the bar table - you do not recognise it”.
Zanzotto’s denatured landscape seems to refer to the homologation already pointed out by Pasolini: men walk in their sleep, victims of a dizziness provoked by psychotropic drugs, along the unrecognizable streets of any metropolis. The epic cannot be solved but through a medley of fragments referring to other fragments, as the narration turns into a mere semblance; the same plot is reduced to a description of aimless actions that have been deprived of the pietas that could redeem them from the “album of evil” represented by a more and more unnatural, precarious, schizophrenic existence.
With such premises, Bertozzi’s poetry could only end up as a shattered, syncopated dictation deriving from Celan’s frequently overwhelming anacolutha. Here we find poetic moments intrinsically capable of complying with a more and more unclassifiable reality, along with some positive insertions of a more lyrical dimension, though surreal and ripped of its very flesh: "You still have the full moon in your eyes / - my equal and I do not bear it / I pass you an arm along the channel”.