Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Massimiliano Chiamenti

This picture is from Big Bridge, where you can read 
some of Max's poetry in both English and Italian 

I am deeply saddened to learn this morning that my friend Massimiliano Chiamenti passed in Bologna, Italy. Max, as he first introduced himself to me, was a poet, musician, professor, Dante scholar, translator and more.

I met Max in Florence, Italy, in 2000 when I started working at New York University’s campus there. I have fond memories of us working together to organize poetry readings for the students downtown and on campus. He shared his energy and enthusiasm for words at the mike and with the students.

I remember sitting in his apartment, between shelves crowded with so many poetry books, discussing writing and life. One lovely evening he prepared pasta for dinner. We sat for hours at a round metal table in his garden on the Via Bolognese; the sun went down and the candles grew brighter in the night.

When I was a graduate student at Sarah Lawrence College, I worked closely with Max to translate his series Le Teknostorie. You can read one short translation published by Private. The Italian version of the complete work can be found here. We finished many sections, but never the entire piece. I fear that Max thought I was not only a better poet and translator than I was at the time, but a writer who could infuse a fast, almost rap or hip hop, beat into lines of prose poetry. He believed in my abilities. He taught me many things about writing and Italian.

Death, chosen or not, is never simple. Ti volgio bene, Max.

To learn more about Max, visit his Wikipedia page or watch him perform music and poems on many Youtube videos.

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