Title: IL LIBRO DELL'OPPIO (THE BOOK OF OPIUM)
Author: CATERINA DAVINIO
Publisher: Puntoacapo, Novi Ligure
Year: 2012 - Genre: Poetry - 168 pages - Price: 16 Euro
Il libro dell'oppio (The Book of Opium), namely: the cursed years of a protagonist of the international electronic art and poetry.
Opium and opiates, literary vice par excellence - with a history and personalities in the literary scene, from Baudelaire to De Quincey, from Coleridge to Burroughs - find in this work a space unencumbered by victimism or prejudice, with a delirious perspective, but free from censorship and taboos.
The author writes in the introductory note: "These are sick (and hellish) paradis artificiels... It is better not to talk about certain diseases of body and soul, it is better to conceal them, not to upset the sensibility of those who, in the world, can so surely separate good and evil, health and affliction, heaven and hell. In fact, this book remained unpublished, and I would say secret, for more than twenty years".
We can define The Book of Opium a work by a young poet: it contains, in fact, lyrics created by Davinio when she was from seventeen to thirty years old.
Mauro Ferrari points out in the afterword: "This is poetry which brings together in one bundle a life experience which is anyway full and painfully joyous - I too suggest an oxymoron - that in Italy this poetry has very few equals, and that it takes refuge neither in a more or less cursed attitude, nor in moralism. [...] The poetry of Caterina Davinio drips vitality, corporeality and physicality, which, I think, makes us love life beyond measure, because it sinks its nails into abjection, into hazard and death - into a challenge to death, even, without rhetoric, neither in the construction of the verses nor in the narrative dimension of this lucid and hallucinated diary. […] History? Yes, the dates (between 1975 and 1990) tell us about the years of terrorism and heroin; but the single texts, however, tell us a story - rather they offer to us fragmented instants, a heap of broken images, that do not aspire to total organicity - where the pursuit of pleasure (momentary and fleeting, as always pleasure is, according to the poet Leopardi) merges with the immersion in pain like systole and diastole. The desperate search for drugs is wandering, delay and waiting ("the waiting is everything"); the resurrection to life after a night of drugs, or the lucidity that shines between two chasms, is then the terrible confirmation of the value of "that life which is missing", confirmation of how life should be wooed, to feel alive one more day, drunk on the edge of the abyss."
Caterina Davinio, writer, poet and artist, is known for her work in new media, which has brought her, since 1990, in contact with the international avant-garde circuits, in publications, festivals, exhibitions and meetings of global significance, such as the Venice Biennial, the Biennale of Sydney, of Lyon, of Liverpool, of Athens, of Merida, E-Poetry festival (Barcelona and Buffalo, NY), Manifesta and many others, with over three hundred appearances in meaningful exhibition contexts. This book gives us an opportunity to know a dark period preceding 1990, in the Seventies and the Eighties, offering a gallery of situations, characters and atmosphere from the world of drug addiction, with moments of hedonism, nihilism, but also playful, or dramatic, such as in Overdose, Anorexia, Flash (Poem of Heroin).
The Book of Opium presents one hundred and fourteen selected poems from the collection Fatti deprecabili (Deplorable Facts), almost entirely unpublished, which contains texts written from Davinio's early adolescence. Davinio began writing poetry at the age of fourteen years, composing, from 1971 until 1997, over four hundred poems and performance texts; some of them were included in anthologies, readings and theater performances in the late Eighties and Nineties. The poems included in this book, never printed or presented before, are a first attempt to organize and arrange part of those manuscripts for publication.
The themes of drugs and marginality are not new in Davinio's literary production, already present in her novel Color Color, in various poems, and in her book Serial Phenomenologies (2010).
The Book of Opium, with its language directed, up from its origins, to experimentation, with a vocation for breaking the syntactical structures, the verses, and, sometime, the words, with the unpredictability of some unexpected passages and variations, provides, in a not merely neo-realistic way, an unprecedented insight into life and the youth culture of the Seventies and the Eighties, perhaps the generation most affected by what has been called the drug culture.
Born in Foggia in 1957, Caterina Davinio grew up in Rome, where, after a degree in Italian Literature at Sapienza University, she dealt with contemporary art and new media, as a writer, as a curator and a theorist. Featured in international anthologies and journals, she has published the poetry collection Serial Phenomenologies, Campanotto, 2010, special mention in Nabokov Prize 2011, with parallel English text, afterword by Francesco Muzzioli and a critical note by David W. Seaman; the novel Color Color, 1998; the essays: Techno-Poetry and Virtual Realities, 2002, with preface by Eugenio Miccini, and Virtual Mercury House. Planetary & Interplanetary Events, book with dvd, 2012, about net-poetry. She gained recognitions as a finalist in the awards: Lorenzo Montano, Franco Fortini, 2011, Scriveredonna 2010 (Pescara), for unpublished poetry. Among the pioneers of digital poetry and art in 1990, she has exhibited in more than three hundred expos in many countries of Europe, Asia, America, Australia. Since 1997 she participated and has created poetry and multimedia art events in seven editions of the Venice Biennale and collateral events.
On the cover: Caterina Davinio, digital elaboration from a photographic self-portrait created in 1979.
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