April 18, 2024

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Review of Collected Poems by Marcia Nardi

Review of Collected Poems by Marcia Nardi

1In 942, Marcia Nardi sought refuge with William Carlos Williams. She sought medical advice, but also showed the doctor and poet her own poems. She greatly admired Williams, promoted her publications and financially supported Nardi, who lived in extremely precarious circumstances. The poet, who was born in Boston in 1901 and died in Watertown, also in Massachusetts, in 1990, wrote long letters that eventually became too long for Williams. He ended the call for now. However, he included some of Nardi's letters in his great epic, “Paterson” – without asking the author or even mentioning their name.

Do not be afraid of pathos and pomp

The Writing Notebook documented this case of poetic appropriation three years ago, and now publisher Zero Sharp is releasing Nardi's Collected Poems. Translator Stefan Ripplinger sums up the issue again in his epilogue and concludes with a quote from literary scholar Rachel Blau du Plessis: “Should Nardi’s letters, selected and slightly rewritten by Williams for Patterson, be her most admirable work?” According to Riplinger this question can only be seriously answered by the publication of this volume. Unfortunately, at least looking at the translation, you have to answer yes.

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