Flavio Santi was born in Alessandria, Italy in 1973. He currently divides his time between Pavia and the small town of Codugnella (Udine). His work has appeared in various journals and several anthologies dedicated to new Italian poetry. He has published four collections of poetry, and is the author of a novel and several short stories. Santi has translated the poems of Paul Celan, André Breton, Michel Leiris, James Merrill, John Ashbery, Nonno di Panopoli and several Latin humanist poets. His work as a critic is noteworthy, and his essays have appeared in many authoritative Italian journals.
The poetry of Flavio Santi is characterized by a certain linguistic essentiality in which the tragic experience of the present is blended, for balance, with an ironic tone that is at times detached and at times bitter and impassioned. The irony manifests itself above all in the colloquial tone of his poems, in the allusions and fragmentary tendency of his verses, in the presence of a poetic self who is at the same time in the world but not of the world. Add to this the use of a very personal dialect and a linguistic non-conformism that never lapses into facile experimentalism. Daily experiences and memory are re-elaborated in modalities that create a sense of estrangement while remaining relevant.
In Rimis te sachete (Pocket Rhymes, 2001), for example, the ancient Friuliano dialect that Santi utilizes and almost re-invents, clashes with the cinematic references to Cronenberg and Lynch, the music of Jimi Hendrix, and the world of William Burroughs. Or else it deals with the tragic facts of modern Friuli, from the earthquake of 1976 to the death of Pasolini. Even when Santi writes in Italian, the language is used in an atypical fashion: it becomes refined and sophisticated, or it becomes anglicized, or else it makes use of the most obsolete registers of colloquial language. This is a tension and a laceration that runs through all of Santi’s poetry, and reflects the impossibility for him to recognize himself completely in the world that language and literature manage to represent.
“I am quite struck by the extremely controlled and very Rimbaudesque ardour that marks his voice. There are taut nerves in Santi, and a revolt that becomes imagery by chasing after traces of cinema and literature in order to meticulously establish limits in the map of his contents . . . If he is not a poet, I don’t know what poetry is anymore.”
“Despite his young age, the poet, critic and fiction writer Santi already has the qualifications that, like it or not, are necessary for a qualitative, continental leap that our country’s literature will be obliged to make in the coming years.”
“In the case of Santi (…) we must add a high rate of ambition which I would define ‘civil’ if as usual it were not for the ambiguity to which this adjective lends itself: there is no preaching and no moralism but there are great gusts of rage, a need for irreducibility, and a lucid condemnation of the corrupt and the mediocre.”
“Young Flavio Santi represents a unique case not only for the very new Friulano poetry, but I believe for all neo-dialect poetry. He is new and true not only as far as content is concerned, but for the linguistic material that he uses. This is confirmed by the variety of expressive modes as well as the mature and always recognizable style of his Rimis te sachete.”
Viticci (Tendrils). Stamperia dell’Arancio, Grottammare 1998. (Sandro Penna Prize)
Album. En plein edizioni, 1998.
Rimis te sachete (Pocket Rhymes). Marsilio, 2001.
Asêt. Circolo Culturale di Medino, 2003.
L’opera comune, antologia di poeti nati negli anni settanta (The Common Work, Anthology of Poets born in the 1970s). Atelier, 1999.
Spinzeris, in Poesia Contemporanea, Sesto quaderno italiano di poesia contemporanea (Contemporary Poetry, Sixth Italian Notebook of Contemporary Poetry). Marcos y Marcos, 1999.
Santi’s poetry has appeared in various journals such as Atelier, Nuovi Argomenti, Origini and Poesia.
On What Planet. Translations of Kenneth Rexroth. Marcos y Marcos, 1999.
Diario di bordo della rosa (The Log Book of the Rose). PeQuod, 1999.
Santi’s essays have appeared in authoritative journals like Autografo, Diverse linguE, Nuovi Argomenti, Testo a fronte and Paragone.