Poetry in Copparo

Written by  Maria Cristina Nascosi
Corrado Govoni, Oreste Marchesi and other "giants".
The poetic vein, so rich and varied, permeated by a lucid madness and lightheartedness which characterises some of the verses of the Copparo writers, has its roots in the futurist movement.

Tamara-born Corrado Govoni who published Le fiale exactly one hundred years ago, began his poetic career under the influence of the poet of Decadentismo, Gabriele d'Annuzio, but later passed through other literary schools: the collection Armonie in grigio et in silenzio, (also 1903), reflects the work of the Crepuscolari poets, and Fuochi d'artifizio, published in 1905, marks a move towards futurism.

However, Govoni moved beyond the charms of that movement, and, passing through varying experiences, continued to write in his own impressionistic style, sensual and creative, dense with colour and phonic effects, achieving moments of individual surrealism, and often closely tied to his roots and his mother-tongue, the dialect of Ferrara.

Futurism had a different and more profound influence on his Copparo contemporary Oreste Marchesi, born in 1883. It was no accident that Marchesi - justly described by Vincenzo De Toma in the only recognised biography as an eclectic artist - embraced Marinetti's movement: in it he recognised his own revolt against the past. He wrote verses, lyrics, and songs in both Italian and his native dialect which he then published accompanied by illustrations, the natural "TRANSLATION" of the poetry into images and both the "RIGHT" vehicle for music. The illness he contracted during the war robbed him of his memory, but paradoxically, this was a stroke of good fortune, making him an independent figure with no cultural debts to anyone.

Avant-garde by both inclination and intellect, Oreste Marchesi collected and preserved not just his texts but also newspaper reviews, leaflets, brochures, everything which could be left to posterity, perhaps already aware that no-one would do it for him.
This precious archive, now held in the Public Library in Copparo, includes the correspondence - of incalculable value - between the artist and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who always held him in high esteem.

Oreste, like Govoni was devoted to his native soil and left it only for brief periods: he let himself be lured away by the Po, by Cesta or by Zenzalino only to return time and again to "his" Copparo which contained the entire world, and where he found subjects for all his paintings and inspiration for music and poetry.

In future years others would write of Marchesi and Copparo in terms of affection; and in their work we can discern his literary heirs. The first is Liana Medici Pagnanelli, who dedicated a poem to him in which she recalls the neglected brilliance of the artist, a family friend with whom she felt an unusual affinity as a child; and the ars poetica, simple but rich in significance, by his good friend Giuliano Sampaoli should also be remembered. Finally, we should mention don Artemio Cavallina, priest and humanitarian and one of the founding fathers of the written Ferrara dialect. His many sonnets are sermons full of humour and feeling. His poetic style veers with wit between proverbs, expressions, nuggets of wisdom and lyric poetry produced for a primary school educational text which was fundamental in its day, A l'ombra dal Castèl, issued in 1925 by the Palermo publisher Sandron.

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