In this paper, I examine Italian poet Giuliano Mesa’s Tiresia (2001) as the culmination of his socially-engaged and experimental poetry, always led by three fundamental tenets he postulates in “Three Lemmas” (2007): listening, research, and ethical truth. The poem recalls events from the last century told in the form of oracles that the blinded diviner, Tiresias, forces the readers to confront. These events include the collapse of a dump that occurred in Manila in 2000, the 1993 fire in a doll factory in Thailand, the nuclear tests the United States had been conducting for decades, transplants from living children’s bodies in the organ trade in Brazil, and the phenomenon of mass graves as markers of silent and hidden violence all over the 20th century. I argue that the link between voice and sight, which many Italian critics have highlighted, might best be understood through Rob Nixon’s concept of “slow violence” because of its gradual and unseen nature. In my reading of the poem, I highlight the tension between mythology and contemporaneity which allows me to unpack the complex temporality of slow violence. Mesa’s poem relies on this temporal scale to trigger an understanding of the current social and environmental emergencies. According to ancient Greek mythology, Tiresias inhabited the border between the past and the future and blurred the limits between the known and the unknowable. Analyzing Mesa’s text, I argue that poetry’s reliance on figurative language results in the emergence of a possible collective awareness and recognition, activated by the voice of the mythological foreteller–which might be that of the poet. Further, the materiality of poetic language, in which sounds and words continuously reverberate and reshape the poem, verse by verse, mimics the attritional and recursive dynamic of slow violence.

The Potential of the Poetry: Slow Violence in Giuliano Mesa’s Tiresia

Francesca Nardi
2021

Abstract

In this paper, I examine Italian poet Giuliano Mesa’s Tiresia (2001) as the culmination of his socially-engaged and experimental poetry, always led by three fundamental tenets he postulates in “Three Lemmas” (2007): listening, research, and ethical truth. The poem recalls events from the last century told in the form of oracles that the blinded diviner, Tiresias, forces the readers to confront. These events include the collapse of a dump that occurred in Manila in 2000, the 1993 fire in a doll factory in Thailand, the nuclear tests the United States had been conducting for decades, transplants from living children’s bodies in the organ trade in Brazil, and the phenomenon of mass graves as markers of silent and hidden violence all over the 20th century. I argue that the link between voice and sight, which many Italian critics have highlighted, might best be understood through Rob Nixon’s concept of “slow violence” because of its gradual and unseen nature. In my reading of the poem, I highlight the tension between mythology and contemporaneity which allows me to unpack the complex temporality of slow violence. Mesa’s poem relies on this temporal scale to trigger an understanding of the current social and environmental emergencies. According to ancient Greek mythology, Tiresias inhabited the border between the past and the future and blurred the limits between the known and the unknowable. Analyzing Mesa’s text, I argue that poetry’s reliance on figurative language results in the emergence of a possible collective awareness and recognition, activated by the voice of the mythological foreteller–which might be that of the poet. Further, the materiality of poetic language, in which sounds and words continuously reverberate and reshape the poem, verse by verse, mimics the attritional and recursive dynamic of slow violence.
2021
Emergence/y
Francesca Nardi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/916966
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