Tiziano Fratus

- Italy -

Tiziano Fratus (Bergamo, 1975) lives in a village at the foot of the Italian Alps. Touching the Silent Forests of Conifers in California he has coined the concepts of Homo Radix (Rootman) and Silva itinerans (Wandering Forest), learning to cultivate an essenzial buddhist practice in nature (sylvan or rustic Buddhism). In 25 years of writing he has published more than 40 titles of poetry, fiction, essay, travelogue and photography, among them: Alberi millenari d’Italia (Millennial Italian Trees, Gribaudo), Manuale del perfetto cercatore d’alberi (Handbook for a Perfect Tree Seeker, Feltrinelli), L’Italia è un bosco (Italy is a Wood, Laterza), Il libro delle foreste scolpite (The Book of Carved Forests, Laterza), Ogni albero è un poeta (Every Tree is a Poet, Mondadori), Il bosco è un mondo (The Wood is a World, Einaudi), I giganti silenziosi (Silent Giants, Bompiani), Giona delle sequoie (Jonas of the Sequoias, Bompiani),  Un quaderno di radici (A Notebook of Roots, Feltrinelli), Poesie creaturali (Creaturing Poems, LDN), Sogni di un disegnatore di fiori di ciliegio (Dreams of a Cherrie Flowers Sketcher, Aboca). Forthcoming in 2023: Manuale del giovane inventore di alberi e foreste (Handbook for a Young Inventor of Trees and Forests), the collection of poems Agreste and Lettere a una sequoia (Letters to a sequoia). His poetry has been translated into eleven languages, published in International anthologies and journals in 3 continents. Selection of his poems has been published in the USA (Creaturing), in Brazil (Ninguem sabe de nos) and in France (Poèmes). He founded and directed the Turin Poetry Festival working in the years 2006-2010. Actually he is collaborating with newspapers, magazines, festivals and RAI.


In 2016 Fratus published a new book titled Il sole che nessuno vede. Meditare in natura e Ricostruire il mondo (The Sun which Nobody sees. Meditating in Nature and Rebuilding the World – Ediciclo Editore), second part of the Trilogia degli Alberi-Nube (Cloud-Trees Trilogy). It is a book dedicated to meditation in nature, in his loved woods, near monumental trees and ancient forests, watching lakes, listening rivers, sources and waterfalls, touching different parts of the Italian Landscape.


«In his writing, Fratus is guided by an uncommon urgency and unconditional faith in poetry; his writing doesn't hold back on its energy» - Antonello Borra, University of Vermont


«Tiziano Fratus is a storyteller, and a very compassionate one at that. His books, although structured as collections of poems, have the narrative interest and scale of novels. He has and uncanny, instinctive way of entering other lives, and this is what gives his writing its amazing detail» - Mani Rao, University of Nevada


«Creaturing by Tiziano Fratus is the book of a citizen who is able to look at History through its abstractions and details and find music where others saw propaganda, find humanity where others saw statistics, find remembering alive and afire, among things too many of us are ready to forget […] Tiziano Fratus is a public Poet, a man unafraid of speaking in a full voice of a grown up, something we in the USA often shy away from» - Ilya Kaminski & Kathryn Farris, Web Del Sol Review of Books

Creatures, Inside and Out: Tiziano Fratus's Creaturing 

by Michael O'Sullivan 

Tiziano Fratus, Creaturing, Trans. Francesco Levato, Marick Press, 2010. 93 pgs.

Tiziano Fratus's Creaturing is a multivoiced collection that slowly moves from the political to the personal. The vast majority of the poems are of a similar form—prose-like passages with lines of various length that give the poems a jagged right edge on the page. The poems are conversational and those collected in this volume appear to come from various earlier collections, or "matchboxes," as the author names them in his bio.
"Mouth II|old documents" is perhaps representative of the political poems in the collection that ask us to bear witness to numerous atrocities and remember what the dead have died for. It moves from recalling the different stages of Germany's Third Reich and Italy's fascist past to Palestine and then onto the lives of writers such as Lorca and Celan whose work is haunted by revolution and atrocity. The poem then shifts to a general commentary on how "impossible" it is "to start building the world again." The poem's wide range occasionally allows some all too prosaic passages to slip in. Such sections often smack of a political pamphlet or tract—they speak about "stopping the falsification of documents" and "challenging the laws upholding lies." But these are rare kinks in an otherwise refreshingly bouyant collection.
The poetry is perhaps at its strongest when describing natural images and environments and moments from everyday life as in "Kitano's Frog, a Species on the Verge of Extinction" and "Tattooed Women at the Avignone Post Office." The former is reminiscent of Seamus Heaney's "Death of a Naturalist" with its descriptions of a group of boys "going to the lake to catch frogs"; the latter is more Elizabeth Bishop with its effervescent detailing of local character and custom: "two old fisherwomen from marseilles, praying to god/when it was time to pray to him/[…]hair/ gathered and shriveled in a band of algae, pinned/with rusted fish hooks, as if speaking the language of fish." "A Track Meet during the Giro D'Italia" continues this inspired detailing of everyday tics that are lost to most: "arrows of vibrant color entwine in/a tapestry at the mission, red and green[…]/they cheer one another on, words no longer than three/letters, subtracted from sweat, from the taunting glare/of the firemen." But perhaps the poem that is most vibrant and playful in this attention to local colour and yet most self-contained and free of sprawl is "The Soccer Match on Sunday Morning": "sunday morning, during the soccer match: the quantity of dispossessed saints, of insults, of cursing,/[…] a certain idea of universal massacre, of extermination: and to speak/of the fates marked for entire generations of referees."
The poems are translations from the Italian and the collection is bilingual with the Italian and English versions facing each other on the page. This leads even the most unproficient reader of Italian to occasionally marvel at the detail and music of the language that is lost at certain points in the English translations. The alliterative turn of "non/sarebbe spregevole sapere" in "Il San Sebastiano Di Piossasco" is absent in "it wouldn't be so terrible knowing" and, in the same poem, the descriptive detail of "ai piedi della chiessetta ad una navata" is reduced to "at the foot of a gothic church." The poet also has the delightful habit of using abbreviations in Italian; however, English equivalents are not used in the translastions. Thus "c+è chi" becomes "there are those" and "all+europeo, l+uomo-kalì di Leonardo" becomes "against the Europeans, the Kali-man of Leonardo." It all suggests that a distinctive charm and sense of play is lost in the English. Perhaps acknowledging the fact that the translated lines are not as weighty as their Italian originals, the translator chooses, at one point, not to carry over the italicisation of a complete line: "C'e chi è interessato e chi no ai peccati altrui" is given as "There are those that are interested and those that are not in the sins of others".
A personal note creeps into the poems in the last section of the collection entitled "from Historias de Malo Amor." "Talking about International Travel at the End of November" is a punchy, humorous description of how one couple endures the marriage of the real and the romantic in their talk of international travel: "maybe to Norway, I've always/liked the fjords […] why not, I add,/we can take some canoeing lessons, and stay away/all of August, we could take a shortcut between Corsica and Sardinia,/cruise the south of France, visit Marseilles, Barcelona/and Seville, and then Lisbon and the port, and up towards La Coruna […] you look at me with the ususal air of sympathy, mouth/curled: in that case we'll need to bring a scarf, and a windbreaker." "Utamaro at the Foot of Monviso" is an intimate and erotic poem that sets up an intriguing unresolved tension between the tools of the writer—his "Franciscan grammar," the "black pencil" that the lover "wove into" her hair and the lover's hair like a "black comma"—and sensuous discovery. In it, a description of the Alps "laid bare" tranforms into a depiction of the lover, neck sprouting "from the top of her spine,/a delicate stroke of/slender white moving upwards, and her/hair, a black comma, compact,/in the opposite sense." A letting of blood for both lovers that begins with one lover "indelicately, lacerating/the thick skin of my index finger" leads to a new kind of writing of, and with, the body: "I use the blood that flows without/any drama to inscribe/the ideogram for FIRE/on the mature part of your back,/the one the towel doesn't hide." The extraordinary nervous tension of this physical landscape dramatically changes course with the two final poems of the collection, which pay homage, respectively, to Carl Sandburg and George Ballantine. 
Overall, there is such a medley of bristling voices and enticing themes being set in motion in the collection that the reader gets the impression the poet may still be searching for a single, guiding thread. However, this sense of child-like inquisitiveness is also a strength as it returns us to a time "when all/seemed still possible and instinct dominated/reason."

>>> http://www.asiancha.com/issue/13/michaelosullivan2/


Creaturing is a startling new volume of poetry translated by Francesco Levato from the work of Italian poet Tiziano Fratus.  The volume is organized into three sections, each taking poems from three of Fratus’s books: Il Molosso, Il Respire della Terra, and L’uomo Radice.  Readers of Italian will appreciate the fact that each English translation is preceded by Fratus’s original poem written in Italian.
The first thing that pulls the reader into Levato’s interpretation of Fratus is the undulating imagery of prime ministers, journalists, and school children flowing alongside imagery of razed cities, Palestinian refugees, and the Piazza Fontana bombing.  It is the tension between past and present atrocities, official and unofficial narratives that makes the work so compelling. The poems never outright instruct the reader on how to feel about these scenes.  In many ways, the images speak for themselves (or, rather, their silence speaks), and they need no further editorializing from the poet.  On the surface, the historical contexts that bred violence have given way to healing, such as when a prime minister alludes to improved Chinese-Japanese relations in the poem “Image III”, but any such resolution is burdened by the memory of “rotting mouths” and a “decapitated body” that will not disappear so easily.  
Many of the book’s poems come as an unapologetic barrage on the senses.  The line length and syntax structure allow little opportunity to breathe, and, consequently, such form helps to suffocate the subjects onto which the poems point their interrogational light.  Moreover, Levato’s translation allows for moments of elaboration on Fratus’s political insights.  For example, in “scent of the waiting room”, a poem that relays the experience of a woman abused by a an ex-lover, conventional wisdom is undercut as Levato makes a clever line break after the word “just”: 
the doctor tries telling her that the most important thing is 
waiting, time heals, and it isn’t just 
a saying…
The double meaning brought about in this kind of enjambment brings the poem, which appears in the book’s second section, in line with one of the books overall arguments: time is not just.  Time alone fails to bring justice when it is not accompanied by the appropriate social action.  
The book’s title, Creaturing, begets further irony as we come to see humanity itself as a kind of creature that engages in all sorts of vile behavior while actual animals, by contrast, are rendered as potentially noble beings.  A poem like “the wolf of trana” speaks to how man’s cruelty, in the form of a bullet, has “[injected] itself under the skin of the world”.  This poem demonstrates yet another intriguing result of the Fratus-Levato collaboration as Levato’s translation allows for a man to become the appropriately de-humanized pronoun “it” while the wolf is signified as “he”.   Ultimately, however, man and animal are conflated to drive home yet another take on human nature.  By the time we get to a poem like “The Red Fox” in the book’s final section, we can’t help reading the literal subject as an extended metaphor for humanity’s destructive cravings in which “some chicken / is found dead and eaten” and where “in a meter of snow, the bodies of the dead” will come to haunt us once spring melts away the lies we use to cover up unpleasant truths from our past.  
>>> http://www.bigbridge.org/BB14/2010_Reviews/REV_2010_Creaturing_Review.htm


Review of Tiziano Fratus’ Creaturing
Creaturing by Tiziano Fratus is the book of a citizen who is able to look at history through its abstractions and details and find music where others saw propaganda, find humanity where others saw statistics, find remembering alive and afire, among things too many of us are ready to forget:
It is impossible to forget the germany of june thirtieth
Nineteeth thirty-four the germany of thirty-five the germany of march
Ninetheen thirty-nine the germany of the winter of forty one the germany
Of april thirtieth nineteen forty five
This is the poet who can look at documents and see music that tells the truth, a poet who knows that “death is born from the vocabulary from the syntax from the breath.” Tiziano Fratus is a public poet, a man unafraid of speaking in a full voice of a grown up, something we in the USA often shy away from. It is not to say, however, that all his poems are addresses to public history (although he is, admittedly, quite good in that realm of civic poetics) but to say that even in his private moments, he is able to capture the privacy that is more than just one human’s privacy; that is, his privacy is not confessional; it is universal. And, if he is a survivor, his survival is large, it applies to any of us: “I am a survivor, I feel my expiration date.” It is not a voice ready to give away childhood confessions and guilts in a way so many poets in confessional mode in USA are, but a voice  ready to “give away everything: birth / certificate, passport, house keys.” And when he is erotic, he is erotic in a full voice:
                   a rain
of freckles around her nose, and an irrepressible desire
to run with open hands
But what strikes me most about this book is how humane it is, how interested in human moments, details of our existence, its pains and its laughs. There are poems about “The Soccer Match on Sunday Morning” and “a Track Meet During the Giro d’Italia” and the portraits given to us, are quite memorable:
….dragging even the dog to
Saturday afternoon mass, seating him
Like a Christian on the footrest, crossing
His paws.
And, what is also moving, is how he brings this all back to our very moment in time:
It is impossible to forget the America of ninety thirty nine,
The America of nineteen seventy nine, the America of
Yes, the America of now. The daily terror of it. That a poet capable of doing this in verse as beautiful as Fratus’ has to come from Italy, then be it. But America needs this voice that tells the truth without patronizing and does so in a lyric that is memorable and sparkling. That this lyric is available to us now in English in beautiful translation is a cause for celebration.
--Ilya Kaminsky & Kathryn Farris
>>> http://wdsreviewofbooks.webdelsol.com/Fratus.htm