Claudia di Palma

Italy

Claudia Di Palma (b. 1985) is an Italian poet. Her first poetry collection, Altissima miseria (Musicaos Editore, 2016) has been praised by both the reading public and the literary critics. The book was also awarded the “Luciana Notari” Prize as best poetry debut (2017) and it was finalist at the International Poetry Prize "Gradiva"- New York (2017). Claudia’s poems have appeared on several journals, magazines, anthologies and literary websites. 


ALTISSIMA MISERIA BY CLAUDIA DI PALMA

 

(articled published in Illustrati n.46

link: http://illustrati.logosedizioni.it/en/issues/46-en/heroes-2/)

 

We may start from the last two lines of the quote from Mariangela Gualtieri’s Caino chosen as an epigraph to approach the work by Claudia Di Palma: “A desire to pray. But I don’t know who nor what anymore”. Claudia’s poems actually take the shape of a prayer that rises from our existence-exile, addressing an unspecified you that at times seems to coincide with the God of the Bible, often quoted either directly or implicitly. But the core of Claudia’s book is most likely the longing for a God, who becomes incarnate in humanity as a whole – and with humanity the poet desires a communion, as a reductio omnium ad unumYou is also the reader who is attracted by a union made of suspension, of distances (but distance is home), of the hesitancy which makes us look into each other’s eyes and welcome mutual differences. We communicate through our skin’s phonemes, while silence allows our cells and bodies to become alphabets. We connect through the smile that makes a communion, through stretched hands that do not touch each other or join to create amplitude. To come together we need to surrender, as suggested by the white flag waving at the beginning of the book and coming full circle at the end in the form of light. Claudia’s language draws from mysticism with words that chase each other poem after poem, lexical ambiguity, figures of speech affecting sounds and etymology which create a continuous tension/invitation to let ourselves go and fuse together. A force clashing with our frailty, with fear, with the war flaring up inside of us, the massacre hidden behind the little word love and the risk of falling down inside ourselves like in an abyss. The union we are pursuing passes through a synthesis of the opposites: amplitude, vastness, eternity on the one side and smallness, misery, transience on the other converge like the shadow which is a shelter-trench tends towards the light of surrender. We live a big life in a small atom and you only need to remove one letter to turn the word monadi (monads) into mondi (worlds), to make the divino mistero (divine mystery) become misero (miserable). The union of human beings, that we recurring throughout the poems, is called “a plural harmony of singular multitudes”. The dynamics of the opposites take the shape of oxymorons such as “ruthless care” and “highest misery”. With the replacement of one letter, in the invocation that opens the first section Maria is followed by Moria, hinting at Erasmus of Rotterdam and connecting the concepts of death and motherhood, the latter a crucial theme in the book. The mother is the beginning and the end: she is fluid, disangled, the emblem of reception (a body containing another body) but the dead come back to the womb and making love means bordering on consumption. Throughout the book, as well as in the Bible, the loving/creative impulse coexists with images of violence and decay until the extreme synthesis is reached: marciamo di un bellissimo marcire (we rot of a beautiful rotting) where the polysemy of the verb (marciamo means both “we rot” and “we march”) recalls the walk in the previous poem suggesting the existence is nothing but moving towards non-existence (two opposites mentioned elsewhere). Altissima miseria is an ambitious first work that reveals a remarkable cohesion and a mature mastery of poetic language.

 

Francesca Del Moro