This monthly series features highlights from the Cross Cultural Poetics archive. Cross Cultural Poetics is one of the longest-running radio shows in America focused on contemporary poetry and poetics. Based at The Evergreen State College and hosted by Leonard Schwartz, the entire archive, running from 2003 to the present, can be accessed on PennSound.
For May, I’ve chosen an interview with poet and translator Paul Vangelisti. Vangelisti reflects on his long career in radio, as Cultural Affairs Director between 1974 and 1982 for KPFK, the flagship station for Pacifica, in Los Angeles, where he produced “Los Angeles Theater of the Ear.” “Conversation,” he says, “is something that radio does much better than anything else.” In addition, Vangelisti reads from his selected poems, Embarrassment of Survival, discusses his translations from the Italian (including the work of Adriano Spatola) and examines the historic distinction in American poetry between open and closed forms. “All poetry,” Vangelisti notes, “is closed, and all poetry is open.” —Angela Buck
Paul Vangelisti is the author of some twenty books of poetry, as well as being a noted translator from Italian. In addition to his new book Wholly Falsetto with People Dancing, (an older man’s not-so-divine comedy), his most recent book of poems, Two, appeared in 2011. In 2006, Vangelisti and Lucia Re’s translation of Amelia Rosselli’s War Variations won both the Premio Flaiano in Italy and the PEN-USA Award for Translation. In 2010, his translation of Adriano Spatola’s The Position of Things: Collected Poems, 1961-1992 won the Academy of American Poets Raizzis/de Palchi Book Prize for Translation. From 1971-1982 he was co-editor, with John McBride, of the literary magazine Invisible City and, from 1993-2002, edited Ribot, the annual report of the College of Neglected Science. Currently, with Luigi Ballerini, he is editing a six-volume anthology of U.S. poetry from 1960 to the present, Nuova poesia americana, for Mondadori in Milan. Vangelisti is Founding Chair of the Graduate Writing program at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.