Amnesia of the Movement of Clouds / Of Red & Black Verse

By Maria Attanasio

Translated by Carla Billitteri


Litmus Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art by Thomas Flechtner
Poetics, Poetry, Translation
Edition, Year
First Edition, 2014
In Print

Finalist for the 2015 National Translation Award in Poetry

Amnesia of the Movement of Clouds & Of Red and Black Verse, two books published in a single volume, is the first full-length English translation of work by contemporary Sicilian poet Maria Attanasio. Drawing on her training as a philosopher and deep reader of German Expressionist and French Surrealist poetry, her visionary work dwells on contemporary selfhood in a technologically driven age, reflecting how such selfhood is set against the desolate political and existential void of a new century, one she describes as “the god of … indifference,” “the great amnesia.” Attanasio’s landscapes are as dreamlike as they are realistic, darkened by poverty, death, inequality and illegal immigration, carved by a sculptural language that seeks to uncover the historical and political strata of everyday life.

Maria Attanasio
Born in Caltagirone, Italy, in 1943, Attanasio is the author of five collections of poetry and four works of historical fiction. Her 2007 work, Il Falsario di Caltagirone, was the recipient of the prestigious ... Read More
Carla Billitteri
Carla Billitteri was born and educated in Italy, and holds a Ph.D. from the Poetics Program at the University of Buffalo. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Maine and a member of the ... Read More

Two sharp, glinting collections of poetry from Sicilian poet Maria Attanasio appear in English for the first time, in a lucid and haunting translation by translator and critic Carla Billitieri.

— Erica Mena, American Literary Translators Association Blog


[T]his first full-length English translation of contemporary Sicilian poet Attansio bears the stamp of her studies in German Expressionist and French Surrealist poetry.
— Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal


Praise for Amnesia of the Movement of Clouds / Of Red & Black Verse

These spiked, analytic lyrics are coiled against the turbulence of everyday life: talismans of acidic cognition against a culture that rewards forgetting. In this bilingual edition of two books of Maria Attanasio, Carla Bilitteri hews to the poet’s knotted chiaroscuro, giving us a labyrinthine series of viscerally charged, haunted studies.

— Charles Bernstein

Carla Billitteri’s confident translations of Amnesia of the Movement of Clouds and Of Red and Black Verse, two of Maria Attanasio’s most recent collections of poetry, offer English language readers the verses of a poet whose eyes see the sound of verse and feel its dispersal. The expression of impermanence communicated by these poems is balanced by the acuity of a language that is poetic exactly because it is amnesiatic. The pairing of Amnesia and Of Red and Black Verse sheds light onto our daily struggles with sense, memory, perception, and “disobedient writing” in translations that complement the originals.

— Pasquale Verdicchio

Attanasio’s poems are succinct but wide-ranging condensations, and these inventive versions by Carla Billitteri are welcome additions to the body of contemporary Italian poetry in English.

— Geoffrey Brock

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