10 Questions for Filippo Naitana
- By Kira Archibald
Dopo il terzo morso
Adamo si trovò sospeso
fra due città, e le seppe arse
dal contagio del tempo. . . .
—from "Cosmogonia del pudore," Fall 2017 (Volume 58, Issue 3)
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Because this is my first published poem, I’ll simply blush and mention some of the authors I keep coming back to: Alda Merini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Billy Collins and Vijay Seshadri.
What other professions have you worked in?
The one profession to which I have been truly committed is that of teacher and scholar. But I have also worked as a grape picker and tended bar. Throughout my undergraduate years in Florence, I was a day-laborer assistant to roadies, assembling and disassembling stages for concerts, which was very hard (and, at times, dangerous) work. It had its perks, though. How often does a penniless student get to see Bowie do a sound check, and then go to the concert for free?
What did you want to be when you were young?
A teacher and writer. As a child, on the other hand, I wanted to be a bishop! I remember to this day my aunt Grazia’s surprise—Really?—when I said as much during a family gathering. What she didn’t know, of course, is that this heart’s desire was rooted in gluttony rather than piety, as my father—who loved Boccaccio and Belli—often entertained me with stories of priests and friars with prodigious appetites, indulging in never-ending banquets involving every possible kind of delicious food.
What inspired you to write this piece?
A curiosity about curiosity, time and desire, which somehow turned into a snapshot of Adam’s transgression.
Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
A few years ago, during a visit to my family in Sardinia, I went for a walk on the beach in the early morning and took the picture I sent as cover image: from where I stood, that wooden mount seemed to frame the Mediterranean, the sea of my childhood. In a way, Sardinia is to my writing what that frame is to the picture: it both gives my gaze focus and makes me aware of what lies beyond its edges.
Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
I wish I could say something quirky and unexpected, but my playlist, which I listen to pretty much on repeat—consists of Sunday at the Village Vanguard by the Bill Evans Trio, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and Beethoven’s Violin concerto in D minor, Op. 61.
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I used to have a number of them, but they all turned out to be synonymous with procrastination. A favorite was to wait for the clock to strike the next quarter hour before starting a writing session. Unfortunately, once the clock read, say, 5:45 all of a sudden 6:00 sharp seemed an even more propitious time to begin, and so on. Each quarter hour had a way of becoming as full of promise as Zeno’s famous “last cigarette.”
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
What are you working on currently?
A series of poems “in dialogue” with paintings by lesser-known and unknown Renaissance artists.
What are you reading right now?
Cider by Susan Stewart, Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, and Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy Dilemma by Barbara Will.
FILIPPO NAITANA grew up in Oristano, Italy. He lives in Hamden, CT, where he teaches Italian language and literature at Quinnipiac University.