December 17, 2008

Paul Vangelisti

Paul Vangelisti [USA]

Paul Vangelisti was born into an Italian-American family in San Francisco in 1945. His father was an accountant for the San Francisco Board of Education, and his mother worked at the department store I. Magnins, on the very floor and at the same counter where in the movie Vertigo, James Stewart takes Kim Novak to outfit her in the manner of Madeline Elster. “When I visited my mother at work, I always expected Kim Novak to walk in,” he humorously recalls. “Some years later, I was working at a butcher shop, and one day I was asked to take a delivery out to a woman in a waiting car; it was a stunning green Jaguar roadster, and sitting in the driver’s seat was Novak.”

Vangelisti graduated from the University of San Francisco in English and philosophy in 1967, and then, for a year, did post-graduate work at Trinity College at the University of Dublin. In 1968 he moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California; and in 1972 he completed all but the dissertation for his Ph.D. at the same institution.

That year he began work as an editor and reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, where he served as assignment editor until 1974. He curated an exhibition and performance of southern California poets in 1973, beginning a lifetime commitment to the poetry of the area. During this same period he began the literary magazine Invisible City, one of the most notable and intellectually challenging journals in the country. The journal published the work of numerous international, national, and southern California figures, as well as essays on various philosophical and critical issues.

From 1974 to 1983 he worked as the Cultural Affairs Director for the Los Angeles radio station, KPFK, and there, from 1978-1983, he also produced the “Los Angeles Theater of the Ear,” which presented poetry and performances by major international figures, premiering on radio writers such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, David Hare, Corrado Costa, Amiri Baraka, Kenneth Patchen, Peter Handke and others. In the summers of 1976, 1978 and 1979 he was a lecturer in American literary at the Adam Michiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, experiences which were reflected in his editing (with Milne Holton) of New Polish Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978).

He began publishing his own poetry in the early 1970s, starting with Communion (with an introduction by the noted poet George Oppen), The Tender Continent, Pearl Harbor, The Extravagant Room, and other books in Italian. He also began translating from the Italian, publishing several collections of Italian poets and books by individual poets such as Rocco Scotellaro, Adriano Spatola and Vittorio Sereni. Beginning in the early 1970s, he also was a co-founder and publisher of Red Hill Press which published out of both northern and southern California.

In the early 1980s, he began teaching part-time at several local colleges and universities, including East Los Angeles College, the University of California, San Diego, and Otis College of Art & Design. It was at that last institution where be became a full-time professor, and, ultimately (in 1999), the chair of the Graduate Writing Program.

Meanwhile, he has continued to publish poetry and translations: Another You, Domain, Alephs Again, Villa, Nemo, A Life, and Alphabets 1986-1995. Throughout these years, he also organized numerous poetry readings and events, including special conferences on contemporary poetry, while editing new journals such as Ribot and The New Review of Literature. His selected poems were published as Embarrassment of Survival in 2001. With Luigi Ballerini, Vangelisti recently begin editing a series of anthologies of 20th century American poetry translated into Italian, “Nuova Poesia Americana.”

Vangelisti has been one of the major forces in the poetry and drama scene in southern California, and has helped numerous younger figures to find readings and publishers for their work. He has won NEA poetry fellowships and a NEA translators fellowship, and is a respected collagist.


Communion (Fairfax, California: Red Hill Press, 1970); Air (Los Angeles and Fairfax: Red Hill Press, 1973); Cinq [with John Thomas] (Los Angeles and Fairfax: Red Hill Press, 1974); The Tender Continent (Los Angeles: Chatterton’s Bookstore, 1974); Il tenero continente [in Italian] (Turin: Geiger, 1975); Pearl Harbor (San Francisco: Isthmus Press, 1975); The Extravagant Room (Los Angeles and Fairfax: Red Hill Press, 1976); La stanza stavagante [in Italian] (Turin: Geiger, 1976); Portfolio (Los angeles and Fairfax: Red Hill Press, 1978); Un Grammo d’Oro [with Giuliano Della Casa, in Italian] (Rome: Etrusculudens, 1981); Another You (Los Angeles and San Francisco: Red Hill Press, 1980); Ora Blu [with Giuliano Della Cassa, in Italian] (Modena, Italy: Tetai del Bernini, 1981); Abandoned Latitudes with Robert Crosson and John Thomas] (Los Angeles and San Francisco: Invisible City/Red Hill Press, 1983); rime [with Don Suggs] (Los Angeles and San Francisco: Red Hill Press, 1983); Il Trisegno 21: the first time ever [in Italian] (San Polo d’Enza: Tam Tam, 1984); Los Alephs [with Giulia Nicolai, in Italian] (Livorno, Italy: Bellforte Editore Libraio, 1985; Domain [with G. T. James and Joe Goode] (Los Angeles: and San Francisco: Invisible City/Red Hill Press, 1986); Giuliano Della Casa Paul Vangelisti [in Italian and English] (Mantova, Italy: Centro di Cultura, 1987); Alephs Again (Los Angeles and San Francisco: Red Hill Press, 1986); Villa (Los Angeles: Littoral Books, 1991); The Simple Life [in Italian and English] (Modena, Italy: Maboratorio d’Arte Grafica Roberto Gatti, 1993); Nemo (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995); Luci e colori d’Italia [with William Xerra, in Italian, French, Spanish and German] (Mantova, Italy: Corraini Editore, 1996); A Life [with Don Suggs, in Italian and English] (Piacenza, Italy: ML & NFL, 1997); Alphabets (Los Angeles: Littoral Books, 1999); Embarrassment of Survival: Selected Poems 1970-2000 (New York: Agincourt, 2001); Agency (Los Angeles: Seeing eye Books, 2003); Days Shadows Pass (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2007); Two (Greenfield, Massachusetts: Talisman House, 2010)

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Plain Old Bartok

Disappointment came to find us as we were
lighting cigarettes for ghosts, babyface.
the thunder never mentioned who she was.
Facility is a door declined at both ends
as the police like to say: toujours
the moon toujours the moon toujours.
Because usually at that size, my dove,
there’s only metabolism and survival.

Tappers and farmers are now about to blur
as the speed of the film reaches a place
of comfort or a suitable just because.
Movies, like a long weekend, sometimes tend
to leave the ordinary a little dour
or at least more interesting or pure
than most things. Movies aren’t really like love
but a better way to screen arrivals.

Basically happy days when you’re not sure
of anything much except that same space
the brusque white dog or jaunty crow undoes
upon waking as who or how. What lends
to the dazzling vagueness of time is the lure
of repetition, getting it right, surer
than before that one notices just above
the trees a restlessness nothing rivals.

Space, then, while it might look like the cure
mostly arrives a little late to outpace
the sweet birds’ twitter and lilt, the buzz
and swell of light heading right to the end
of staring. White, white, blue, purple, green stir
the other side of memory impure
as ear or heart in a dish or slap ungloved.
And ever that clever curse of revival.

As you appear more rigorous and sure,
you become more easily profligate. Erase
how you put your idea to it, what was
clarity meant swinging at least eleven
of those suckers. Enough temperature,
thank you, for elasticity to endure
my silly little thing however much of.
Tomorrow, yesterday, today—archival.

Some prefer enduring it for dancing.
Face it, most want having it commonplace.
Puzzlingly enough, anything sadder
pretends to the economic or comic,
surely a common frustration if
alluringly simple to renounce. Here
love will never find a way just something
to rival its often bang bang start.

A man ordinarily has to lose to err.
Or not. What nobody has to face to.
All are eligible only because
jive is jive no matter the pitch of spending.
Life’s thorns gawk like children of the lower
classes. Alas. All are waiting for rain, sure
of that which is habitually beloved.
Rum-tum-tum. Rum-tum-tum. The queasy lull.

What is all this juice and all this joy,
said Hopkins, or was it Truman, or just
another poet trying to act like
a poet on the radio. Languorous
is no moral outside language, even
when you must, at every opportunity,
decline. Eight is what a wheelbarrow does,
eight is what must sound already eaten.

Reprinted from Review of Two Words: French and American Poetry in Translation, edited by BĂ©atrice Mousli (Los Angeles: Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Paul Vangelisti.



I note that you directed some Peter Handke many years ago. No doubt in my translation, I've meanwhile become something of an amatateur scholar in matters Handke. Here are some links:
and 12 sub-sites [the drama lecture]
[pertaining to scriptmania matters]

[dem handke auf die schliche/ prosa, a book of mine about Handke]
[the American Scholar caused controversy about Handke, reviews, detailed of Coury/Pilipp's THE WORKS OF PETER HANDKE]
[some handke material, too, the Milosevic controversy summarized]


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