Inspired by the seven dwarfs, the poets selected for this issue range from mythology to fairy-tales, from adventure novels to disaster movies. With a majestic synthesis of music and logical argumentation, Daniele Barbieri rips the veil of sweetness from Snow White revealing a frightful epilogue later censored and unknown to most people. In what could be compared to the extract of an ancient epic poem, Alessandro Silva presents Austri – one of the four dwarfs charged to support the cardinal points – as a melancholy hero in a deeply evoking landscape. Playing with the number seven to the highest degree, Ugo Rapezzi concentrates a tragicomic adventure novel in a few lines. The water in which the dwarfs die in this poem is also present in Paolo Polvani’s lines where it submerges the Rinascente and drowns Snow White on the cathedral of Milan, within a treasure hunt that breathlessly spreads out enigmatic views.

Lullaby -the story of the dwarf Austri-

by Alessandro Silva

Stony sea and land – we know it –
were given us by the giant of silence and
the skull bone was picked up by my fathers
who made it the flower of a sacred sky.
Those fathers too were born in the giant,
inside his flesh of mud and stone
like the maggots that embroider flesh
of crosses and other open veins between bones.
I’ve got the dark eyes of those who dare look
and the house in a field of clay and sand
which is pale like my skin and ready
for the miracle. Every song and secret
I used to know. At the corner of a dawn I stood.
Since then I keep casting a song
hosted by the sky and predicting a light
that fecundates the darkness. (It’s eating
the ladder of my nude vertebras little by little).

The names of the seven dwarfs

by Paolo Polvani

Do you remember the names of the seven dwarfs?
Search for them under the palate, in the enchanted wood
some continents ago, in a consonant, in the lifeless
word, but you, do you remember
the names of the seven dwarfs? Maybe you will find them in the voiles
of Our Lady of Sorrows, maybe on the atlas there is a merry dog,
so look deep inside its mouth, there are concrete mixers
with bewildered eyes, then sound a pomegranate’s
affection, if you, if you don’t remember
the names of the seven dwarfs you’ll see Snow White
drown on the Milan Cathedral, you’ll see the Adriatic Sea
flood La Rinascente up to the fourth floor but you
don’t remember the names of the seven dwarfs, they crawl
at the bottom of a lagoon, so leaf through the phone book,
and on the motorway search for the names of the seven dwarfs.

Snow White

by Daniele Barbieri

I cannot forget what has disappeared in almost
all versions of the tale, those glowing hot
iron shoes that the very gentle, very good-natured
heroine forces the queen to wear in order to
punish her, and this happens after the dwarfs, the wood
with the cute little animals, when the fairy-tale recovers
its true nature, and doesn’t wheedle us anymore


by Ugo Rapezzi

There were seven times
in seventeenseventyseven
seven dwarfs
with seven greedy hands.
On September the seventh
singing seven notes
they sailed for the seven seas
in search for the seven gold mines.
But seven gusts of the severe North wind
as fast as the seven-league boots
overturned their seventh white ship.
But they did not have seven lives like cats,
so none of the seven survived.

Galleria del vento

The wind tunnel in the title of Luigi Cannillo’s book is a tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of a fluid – typically air – on moving solid objects. Intuitively, though, this expression suggests a precarious, dark, and mysterious path, and hints at a perpetual fragility that Luigi, in one of his poems, considers to be an unbearable weight. Both definitions apply to this book, in which the journey of existence is characterized right from the start by frictions and contrasts: on one side flowers like dream/beauty/lightness are counterposed to foundations, namely values/certainties/points of reference, these and those “oscillating” and therefore in a precarious condition; on the other side, glass and velvet alternate on the skin, to wound/fortify and give pleasure/comfort. The first poem sums up the entire human condition, starting from the neverending question “who shakes this wind tunnel” and in the end charging the reader with the task of establishing whether it is the individual who is “the captain sailing destiny” or conversely it is the latter which is at the helm. Refined images flow into each other, always on the verge of dissolving themselves: time and again the void comes back with its attractive force, opposed by the gravity generated by objects and persistent feelings. Paying much attention to details and everyday – often ritualistic – moments, the poet moves through inner and outer spaces with a movie camera hanging from his wrist so as to frame familiar surroundings from unusual and revealing perspectives, which ultimately defy the boundaries between life and death. We follow a path constantly connected with its own origin, which is the main topic of the first two sections: “L’ordine della madre” (The mother’s order), in which the maternal imprint survives in people and things, well beyond physical death, and “12 segni” (12 signs), which witnesses the connection between earthly life and celestial world, making each zodiac sign an archetype. The last two sections mainly explore the concepts of relation/expansion: the touching of the bodies, often permeated by a strong erotic energy, is the subject of the section “Il rovescio del corpo” (The other side of the body), while “Berliner” puts the individual in connection with the city, which embodies the political, historic, and social dimensions of every human community. Whilst the concept of exile winds its way through, here Berlin – a town deeply marked by the scars of history – represents the ideas of belonging and identity (“we feel at home, we become the city”). Getting back to the opposing elements mentioned at the beginning, this collection is supported by solid philosophical-conceptual basis, while still being illuminated by the flowers of poetry, in the confident flow of the music, the vividness of the images, and the details that conspire to be universal.

Luigi Cannillo, Galleria del vento © 2014, La Vita Felice