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20 anni di Semicerchio. Indice 1-34
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Visits since 10 July '98

« indietro

The Golden Chalice

Without those lustful diadems of diamond
to crown, majestic, our sinful heads,
the pestilential hunger dies; our carnality is sheathed,
and the gem diggers sleep quietly in the peaceful rivers of the gods.
Still the cup of life tastes sour in the orphans’ mouths:

Children of your creation, all, God, their last hope
was your golden chalice. Now it is bitter and inchoate,
even as they pray for your great presence.
Fervent believers all, they were singing those meandrous songs
that did not reach your ears: it was a ritual; ah, the Wretched
of The Earth- those not so very innocent children of Sierra Leone!

Waking up from those persistent nightmares in their souls,
they went seeking your hands, but all they saw, sculptured
in skeletal form, was this new frieze that stinks!
Proud profiles: the earth shook from the beating of their chests,
and becoming children once again, they adorned their foreheads
to look innocent; but a rogue leader sold their laurels to a thirsty Sahara,
where a djinn swallowed them when no saints were watching.

Going without those laurels to a distant land
a furnace was blazing in their souls, a cold breeze kissed their foreheads;
but all that awaited their mouths were the empty cups of dreams.
On a cloudy horizon, Christ sat watching their profuse deliriums.

Stubborn souls: their sacred thirst was our blazing desert;
Staggered by the sun, their epiphany was a slow walk to an oasis,
because that cursed palm tree in Sierra Leone has no milk!
Nonetheless, the gem river that was poisoned
is singing once again about fresh, clear water;
and I, lustful like a crab, throw my arms around those children.

My soul was that river on whose fiery banks
the orphans sang relentlessly for their lost mother.
Now I am waiting for a songbird to come
in the morning with a trill from its golden voice to ease their pain,
as they return, gasping, to that cup of Christ that is  the river!


Out of the Abyss

Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn’
W. B. Yeats


We emerged, worn-out, from this abyss, a broken country:
the women less tender, the men wounded, children gone crazy,
and the innocents raving naked on the night’s brutal highways.
Unlike Ireland, Sierra Leone is still a young mother:
a blight of history swims in her head; her churches smolder,
and a blasphemous hand profanes the prophet’s beard.

Worn-out, new ceremonies await us: ancestral, enigmatic,
so that we can be reborn, or simply turn our inhuman clock back.
And out of this darkness gone relentlessly into slander,
I need Yeats’ guiding light to show us a new path.

Women will talk once again with tenderness on their lips;
and love, especially in those tragic innocents, will grow new tendrils.
Children will be back at play after their fathers, a little healed
of their wounds, have put their minds once more to parenting.
For a child’s skipping rope is always a thing of joy to me;
before the sweet rain falls, slowly, on our burnt-out dreams,
when its music, always refreshing, will usher in a new dawn,
and awaken that which should never die in us: the laughter in our hearts.


Olodumare’s* Clay

For Niyi Osundare, after Katrina


In the generous summer, the Gods
created a colourful world, rich in enigmas,
from which you emerged, molded in Olodumare’s clay,
to sing of market places teeming with laughter.

Whether in Ibadan, Shanghai or Bogota,
or where only the Gods assemble in splendid raiment,
your were their esteemed wordsmith. Plucked from an eagle’s plumage,
a pen was always at your fingers, before Microsoft became a leader.

The famished Gods spoke: your house went under Katrina;
but your poems, bold and incandescent like a comet,
calmed the victims’ anxiety, and stabilized the levees.
You came to honour me on the Pacific: a profound aura about you.
Out of the storm’s labyrinth, you looked into a future not fully formed,
but, already, like the wisdom of the women in a Lagos market place,
you had a vision to stagger that world into harmony

And, not surprisingly, given that Olodumare’s children
had created the blues in New Orleans, so many tearful moons ago,
you have returned, with a poet’s lyre, always generous,
even though you have lost everything, to sing for that shocked city
a wonderful song to enchant Satchmo; and also
to show the professors how to teach under the ancient trees,
and help the mayor understand the enigmas of sea-gods.

* Olodumare : The Supreme Deity of Ifa: the World View of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and the Diaspora.



The Orators

‘When found, the missing grey parrot’s
vocabulary was so vulgar the police
begged the owner to come and get it.’
- South African news item

I marvel at some famously grey birds
that do not light the forest with flamboyance,
but confound the scientists with oratory.
Uncensored by priests, their tongues
are prodigiously lewd with speech:
these birds more renowned than Jane Goodall’s apes

Always patient, the vultures are
the kind undertakers of our foetid disasters.
They clean our gilded narratives with speed,
but leave us guessing about their wisdom,
unlike those notoriously talkative parrots.

Profanely spirited wordsmiths,
poets of  the unsavory verbs, delicious mimics,
I learn from you, struggling with perception,
to paint a filigreed world, aware of my imperfections,
while your nine hundred and five word vocabulary
triumphs over Churchill’s disputed macaw:
a mere ridicule of Hitler it remembers.

I celebrate you, African orators!
For whereas my words sit imprisoned
in an irresolution of profits and markets,
you have a whole forest of words
to shock the world with primordial eloquence.


Sept 11, 1973 & 2001

Tupac Amaru, * the jaguar no longer roams
all over your America, the oilrigs smear its path;
In halting Spanish, the tourists came looking
for its footprints in the snow; ah, golden legend of the Incas
but not for Augusto Pinochet wearing Cortez’s 
epaulettes on September 11, 1973, to silence
Allende’s defiant voice and burn Neruda’s books,
the handcuffed Commies laterdropped into the cold Pacific.

In English, the horror would repeat itself:
September 11, 2001, the murderous birds
of Al Qaeda swooping down on the twin towers
of Whitman’s America to tear at Lady Liberty’s heart,
leaving the world flummoxed that life is this insanity:
your god, my god, they are not the same!

Doomed firemen and equally robotic policemen:
with so many lives inside, they did not identify
Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Christians, Taoists,
Buddhists, Shangoists, or even the pagan poets, 
but rushed into the towers, headstrong with valor.
On that day, New York, you were an icon,
the world your widow; the old Russian woman,
her shoulders barely draped, tossed roses into the Volga,
while the poets in Dakar plucked their Kora  for you;

Impetuous city of the twenty-four hour coffee,
in so much as we love them, let us mourn
the dead with eloquence, guard their memories,
but leave them undisturbed at ground zero.
In Arcadia, they have no use for fiery rhetoric,
misplaced glories and blunt platitudes!

Inspired by our songs, they will return
in the Hudson on a blissful, sunny day,
de Kooning’s hand trembling to cover
the pavements and subway in bold, daring colors;
forever, New York: crazy phoenix in your vibrancy.
Duke Ellington and Lenny Bernstein reminding
us about what a wonderful vision you inspire!

* Tupac Amaru: the leader of a failed Inca rebellion against the Spanish in 1780.  He was captured and pulled apart by four horses, in the plaza at Cuzco, Peru.


A Simple Lesson

A pair of cardinals flew into a tree, frightened,
but there was so much light, so much plumage!
I stand near a patch of grass, sad, watching those birds
bristle on that tree, my head full of incomprehension
about the silence of the world’s conscience
over this carnage mid-wifed in the Middle East.

Seeing those frightened birds, I go on thinking
that each epoch has its poet; tender, angry, prophetic,
sometimes enigmatic: a narrative of  all our disasters and triumphs
flowing from his pen, for the sons and daughters to read,
while the cities, ghost-like, burn like the tatters of their dreams.

Relentlessly, the glacials melt from our un-symmetry;
horrified, we watch Kilmanjaroo melting like a drunken giant.
Always patient, a faithful dog expects a fat bone. After a bold insistence,
a river widens its course through the narrow forest of time.      
That is why, sick of their military grandiloquence,
I turn my back on the tin gods who, emboldened by an awkward trident,
forget that it is the mangy dog that sometimes kills the leopard!

Syl Cheney-Coker
(Sierra Leonean poet and novelist. Among his poetry collections, Concerto for an Exile, 1973; The Graveyard Also Has Teeth, 1980; The Blood in the Desert’s Eyes, 1990. His novel The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, 1990, met with wide critical acclaim.)

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10 marzo 2017
La Compagnia delle poete alla scuola di Semicerchio

1 marzo 2017
30 anni di SC: lectio di Jesper Svenbro a Siena

28 febbraio 2017
30 anni di SC: dibattito sulla post-poesia a Siena

11 febbraio 2017
Ricordo di Gabriella Maleti

10 febbraio 2017
Maurizio Cucchi alla Scuola di Semicerchio

31 gennaio 2017
Volumi in recensione 2017: call for reviews

27 gennaio 2017
Antonio Moresco alla Scuola di Semicerchio

24 dicembre 2016
Bando del Premio di poesia Achmadoulina

10 dicembre 2016
Semicerchio su Bob Dylan alla Fiera di Roma

9 dicembre 2016
Incontro con Stefano Dal Bianco

25 novembre 2016
Letteratura e cinema: incontro con Massimo Gaudioso

18 novembre 2016
Incontro con Wu Ming 2 alla Scuola di Scrittura Creativa

1 novembre 2016
Addio a Remo Ceserani

15 ottobre 2016
Corsi di Poesia, Narrativa, Sceneggiatura letteraria

13 ottobre 2016
Il Nobel per la letteratura a Bob Dylan

9 settembre 2016
Presentazione di "The Mechanic Reader" a Venezia

1 luglio 2016
La poesia italiana in prospettiva plurilingue - Paris 1 luglio 2016

10 giugno 2016
Lettura della Scuola Semicerchio alle Oblate

26 aprile 2016
Volumi 2015-2016 in recensione

22 aprile 2016
Corso di sceneggiatura di film letterari

18 aprile 2016
Incontri e Agguati. Per Milo De Angelis

25 febbraio 2016
Incontro con SERGEJ ZAV’JALOV - Premio Bigongiari

11 dicembre 2015
Incontro con Nicola Lagioia

4 dicembre 2015
Incontro col narratore Giorgio Vasta

27 novembre 2015
Incontro con Alessandro Fo

13 novembre 2015
Incontro con Sauro Albisani

2 ottobre 2015
Scuola di scrittura creativa: apertura della XXVII edizione

25 settembre 2015
"Il lavoro del poeta" di Niccolò Scaffai a Todo Modo

24 settembre 2015
La Cucina Poetica di Semicerchio a Siena

17 agosto 2015
Addio a Renata Galasso

6 giugno 2015
Piccola Antologia Fiorentina. Reading della scuola di "Semicerchio"

17 aprile 2015
Incontro pubblico con Valerio Magrelli

20 marzo 2015
Lectio Magistralis Arundhati Subramaniam

20 marzo 2015
Finalisti del Ceppo alla Scuola di Semicerchio: Aglieco, Buffoni, Donati

1 febbraio 2015
The Mechanic Reader- Siena Seminar 12-13 June, Call

28 gennaio 2015
Assemblea dell'Associazione 13/2 ore 18.15

4 gennaio 2015
Ultimi giorni per l'iscrizione al Corso di poesia

24 dicembre 2014
Addio a Julio Monteiro Martins

11 dicembre 2014
Semicerchio al convegno "Le riviste di cultura"

29 novembre 2014
Letture per Fortini - Siena

21 novembre 2014
Incontro con Jhumpa Lahiri

31 ottobre 2014
Walter Siti alla Scuola di Semicerchio

4 ottobre 2014
A Francesco Stella per "Semicerchio" il Premio Catullo 2014

3 ottobre 2014
Parte il XXVI anno della Scuola di scrittura creativa

20 settembre 2014
Scuola di scrittura creativa - scadenza iscrizioni Narrativa

27 agosto 2014
Semicerchio sul Lavoro al Festival di Ancona

25 agosto 2014
Saggi in recensione volontaria 2014

3 luglio 2014
Trekking sui luoghi della poesia di Luzi

2 luglio 2014
Bando promoter Scuola di scrittura

25 giugno 2014
Reading di Barbara Pumhoesel- Firenze

14 giugno 2014
Semicerchio sul Lavoro a Milano-Bicocca

3 giugno 2014
Festival "Voci lontane voci sorelle" - Firenze

27 maggio 2014
Reading della Scuola di Scrittura: Firenze, Oblate ore 17

22 maggio 2014
25 anni di Scuola di Scrittura Creativa - i video

16 maggio 2014
Mostra fotografica "Firenze-Contrasti" - Video 25 anni Scuola di Scrittura

9 maggio 2014
Il lavoro nella poesia e nell'arte

17 aprile 2014
Semicerchio sul Lavoro a Milano

20 marzo 2014
Premio Ceppo-Semicerchio a Jorie Graham

13 dicembre 2013
Incontro con Melania Mazzucco

15 novembre 2013
incontro con Vivian Lamarque

14 ottobre 2013
Dibattito su "Teoria del romanzo" di Guido Mazzoni

2 ottobre 2013
Seminario in memoria di Séamus Heaney

30 agosto 2013
Per Séamus Heaney

20 agosto 2013
Aperte le iscrizioni al XXV Corso di Scrittura Creativa

7 agosto 2013
Lutto per la scomparsa di Umberto Carpi

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