APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Albino Pierro

Albino Pierro represents a literary case which deserves to be carefully investigated and reassessed. Significantly, he is well-known and appreciated in the academic world, but apart from it, and from his native town, where many cultural events keep his fame alive, his name is nearly unknown. A combination of circumstances saw his name as one of the possible Nobel Prize winners, but this gave rise to a heated debate in the national literary community, because many thought others were more deserving. Significantly again, Pierro is an aristocratic kind of poet, despite the fact he wrote in his hometown dialect and the fact his poetry dealt exclusively with Tursi, his hometown.

Perhaps it is not useless, for a better understanding of so many contradictions and aporias, reminding that Pierro discovered Lucania-Basilicata tardily, even though he was born in Tursi, on November 19, 1916. He spent the years of his education in various cities in northern and central Italy, till he settled in Rome, where he lived most of his life. He started writing verse in Italian to sing his solitude and melancholy. Liriche, published in 1946, testifies to this phase of his literary production.

The world of poetry in Italy was then ruled by a trio, Montale, Ungaretti, Quasimodo, that is to say acclaimed poet laureates. There was little room for a new and different voice. Perhaps this is the reason why in 1960, on his return from Tursi, Albino Pierro made his courageous and challenging choice to turn to the Tursi dialect as privileged means of expression. That was an absolutely original and unknown “language”, inaccessible to those who were not from Tursi, or rather, as for the form Pierro gave to it, inaccessible at all. It was, to all intents and purposes, an experimental choice because he shared with the “experimental” poets the aim of placing all emphasis on form, which had to be carefully studied and elaborated as if in a workshop or in a laboratory. Poetry was turning into research. In this way Pierro tuned in to his time and to the poetical experience he had made in those months with the “Gruppo '63”.

It was pure experimentalism in a completely different language, witness the need to provide Italian translations, sometimes translated by Pierro himself, next to the original poems. Moreover, his poetry was a case studied most of all by philology-oriented critics, formalists or structuralists according to taste, led by most influential and prestigious Gianfranco Contini, whose opinion all the others used to come into line with.

The recurring theme of his poetry was that of his village/childhood, opposite to civilization, city life, reason and consciousness. In this opposition, however, his town was different from Pavese’s or Quasimodo’s, and even from Sinisgalli’s and Scotellaro’s. There was neither a pondered and original philosophy of life nor a socio-political ideology in Pierro’s poetry. His attention was completely focused on the extraordinariness of the dialect, the way it sharpened readers’ wits, the absolute originality it gave to his poetry, the reason of the success he enjoyed with critics. Therefore, as far as content is concerned, he did not go any further than impressionistic or expressionistic descriptions of Tursi, a “land of memories”, consisting of a nomenclature of many odd and unheard-of episodes. Among the characters, a donkey and a pig, drunkards and lovers, the baronial palace and the Rabatana quarter, a priest and a muffled-up old woman, the drinking fountain and a young sparrow, weddings and funerals, each of them caught in their epiphenomenal nature. In other words, Tursi lost any emblematic and comprehensive feature to become no more than a lot of unbound details, whose succession was closer to prose than to poetry.

One could catch all this only through the Italian translation, a real prerequisite condition for the understanding of his poetry. The path chosen by Pierro was endless, and so was his production. This needs to be considered, too. Perhaps we’d better turn around and search for his best part in his Italian poetry, the one he gave up so hurriedly to turn to dialect.

Among his collections of verse, mention should be made of Liriche (1946), Nuove liriche (1949), Mia madre passava (1956), Il transito del vento (1957), Poesie (1958), Il mio villaggio (1959), Agavi e sassi (1960), ‘A terra d’u ricorde (1960), Metaponte (1963), I’nnammurète (1963), ‘Nd’ u piccicarelle diTurse (1967), Eccò a morte? (1969), Famme dorme (1971), Nu belle fatte (1975), Com’aggi’ a fé (1977), Ci ué a turné (1982), Si po’ nu iurne (1983), Poesie tursitane (1985), Tante ca pàrete notte (1986), Nun c’è pizze de munne (1992).

Albino Pierro died in Rome on March 1995.

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