Reading Tiziano Fratus' Anthology 'Creaturing'

By Jeesun Choi

Works of literature are often likened to snapshots – the art of portraying one moment with imaginative accuracy and obsession. Tiziano Fratus’s poems, presented by the poet himself in Old Main last Wednesday afternoon, are more like clips of film, a reel of film abandoned in the cellar, projected to a white wall. It flickers, but it is undoubtedly there, sending the viewer into the depths of one’s memory. Fratus has published eight books of poetry, including Lumina and Il Vangelo della Carne, and his poetry has been translated into French, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish and Slovak. Creaturing, a selected collection of poetry for American readers, is the first of his work to be translated into English by Francesco Levato. Currently he is touring around the country promoting his work. This intimate gathering at Macalester preceded his reading at Open Book in Minneapolis on Wednesday evening.

In Macalester’s reading, Fratus handed out copies to some audience members to read the English translation. He then read in Italian, giving the audience a feel of the rhythm that he had intended. I had the privilege of reading the English translation of one of his poems, ‘Kitano’s Frog, a Species on the Verge of Extinction’. His words travel beyond the line breaks and stanzas to a space where water in ponds dip into a frog and the shirtless boy’s chest glow in the foliage.

His poems ring with clarity, giving the reader a peek into his and our memories. When asked for his reason for writing poetry, he named history and his passion. Histories of motions, people and setting are reflected in his poems. Especially his ‘Tacitus and Survivors from the Iraqi Front’ drifts in and out of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ harking back to the war and its history embedded in New York.

Tiziano Fratus’ poems choose to resonate the familiarity of life, expanding the collective memory into the realm of history.

Tiziano Fratus’ first selection of poems to be translated into English, Creaturing was recently published by Marick Press, Mich.