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Edizioni Empirìa
Via Baccina, 79
00184 Roma
ISBN 88 87450 69 2

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This page last updated: 10th December 2007.

PASO DOBLE is an intriguing experiment in bilingual poetry. The lines of each poem alternate between Italian and English, each poet writing in her native language (Crowe Serrano in English, Ferramosca in Italian). Each poem is then also offered in a mirror translation (the Italian lines becoming English and vice versa).

I thoroughly enjoyed these poems, drifting between two languages as one does in a conversation with people who all speak two languages with more or less equal ease. There is a real sense of the poets finding the language that expresses better what they want to say at a particular point in the poem, though usually, whatever is said, sounds more beautiful in Italian.

(When quoting from these poems, I have quoted from the original language first and the translation second in italics).
Many of the poems display a real beauty of phrasing as in the poem SCRIVO SUI FOGLIO (I WRITE ON SHEETS): curvilinear letters, fragments
	of imperfect freedom. These are my gift

	... mie lettere curvilinee, frammenti
	di liberta imperfetta. Ecco il mio dono 
or this, the closing stanza of INSPIRATION (ISPIRAZIONE):
	Lasciarsi ardere i giorni
	nello stupore costruirsi
	un corpo musicale col legno
	delle piccole cose, chi vibri
	lontanissimo, canto rosso
	di bacche cardiaco, inimitabile
	festa di geni e destino.

	Let your days burn out
	in wonder, build yourself
	a musical body from the wood
	of small things vibrating far away, 
	a red, heart like song
	of berries, an inimitable
	festival of genes and fate.
Sometimes the languages change mid sentence, as in ATTREVERSO (THROUGH):
	una tua gomitata, ecco il deja-vu
	and we're off in a present past

	a light nudge from you and look! deja-vu
	e ci tuffiamo in un presente pasato 
This dual language nature of the poetry can be disorientating, which in fact adds to the meaning of some of the poems that in their subject matter are struggling towards understanding. However Crowe-Serrano's assertion in her introduction that the dual language approach produces a
'poetic dialogue transgressing any language barrier'
is only true, I think, for people who have a certain level of competence in both languages. There is the mirror translation to be sure, but the English speaker who doesn't understand Italian, has to read the poem over two pages to understand it. This would possibly be irritating, it would certainly distract from the beauty and meaning of the poems.

I would hope that the English speaking reader with no knowledge of Italian would be inspired to learn Italian as a result of reading this book, but suspect that it would be more likely that many would be put off before they picked the book up. So, much as I enjoyed both the concept and the poetry itself I suspect there may be a limited audience for this work, certainly in the UK.

However for those who do speak both English and Italian, I would definitely recommend this book!

reviewer: Juliet Wilson.