After the third bite
Adam found himself suspended
between two cities and understood them to be parched
by the contagion of time. . .
—from "Cosmogeny of Shame," by Filippo Naitana, translated from Italian by Ann Lauinger (Fall 2017, Vol. 58, Issue 3)
Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
The first thing I translated, long before I had any idea of wanting to write poetry myself, was a short ode by the Latin poet Horace. Not a great success!
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Probably Ben Jonson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and W. H. Auden are the poets who’ve gotten most under my skin.
What other professions have you worked in?
I’ve been a college professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature my whole adult life: shockingly narrow!
What did you want to be when you were young?
I passionately wanted to be a simultaneous translator for the UN (In what language, I hadn’t figured out.)
What drew you to write a translation of this piece in particular?
Naitana’s poems combine concision with allusiveness in a way that I find very attractive. His familiarity with canonical Italian writers enriches, but doesn’t overpower, his strong sense of the present moment.
Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
Now that you ask, I realize that my small, scrappy back garden has, over the years, started a lot of poems.
Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
I love music, but I can’t listen to it while I’m writing or revising because it masks the sound of the poem for me.
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
If wishes were horses, I’d be a dancer for the New York City Ballet.
What are you working on currently?
I’m trying to organize the spine of a new collection of poems that tilts toward the comical and writes into the gaps.
What are you reading right now?
Poems by Mark Strand, Jane Smiley’s novel The Greenlanders, and Hume’s Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding.
ANN LAUINGER'S two books of poetry are Persuasions of Fall, winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, and Against Butterflies. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Cumberland River Review, Georgia Review, and Parnassus, and have been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. She is a member of the literature faculty at Sarah Lawrence College.