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12 Swiss Books 2016

New Days of Dust

12 Swiss Books 2016NEW DAYS OF DUST

GENRE Poetry, LANGUAGE Italian

Awarded the 2016 “Terra nova”-Prize of the Swiss Schiller Foundation

12 Swiss Books 2016

YARI BERNASCONI was born in 1982 in Lugano, in the canton of Ticino. He studied Italian Language and Literature and wrote his thesis on Giorgio Orelli. He was editor in chief of Viceversa Letteratura. Other publications of poetry include Lettera da Dejevo (2009), Da un luogo vacillante (2013) and Non è vero che saremo perdonati, published in Undicesimo quaderno italiano di poesia contemporanea (2012).
PHOTO © Yvonne Böhler


Yari Bernasconi’s voice is notable for being both forceful and strikingly identifiable in contemporary Italian poetry. He balances both narrative and epigram with great precision: he makes clear and firm statements, of such great severity that they sometimes border on the ascetic, yet are at the same time skilled and subtle. He writes as if firing his text at the reader, snapshots from modern-day trench warfare. The enemy is, above all else, indifference; that human longing for peace and comfort, which, when faced with hostility, deformity and violence, gives in to the temptation to flee.

This book stands out for its use of a language of gesture, both figurative and symbolic. Sharp-edged, realistic, photographic detail is distilled onto the page and into stark images of barbarism in action. Herein lies the explanation of the title of this collection, New Days of Dust, an allusion to an after-death situation in which survivors wander through the debris of an almost burnt-out world. Bernasconi offers us the courage to proclaim that, after the apocalypse, we await a new starting point, one from which we can only go forward.

Read 8 poems in Italian and English

TITLE Nuovi giorni di polvere
PUBLISHER Casagrande, Bellinzona
ISBN 978-88-7713-698-5
TRANSLATION RIGHTS Barbora Jurickova, segretariato@casagrande-online.ch

Italian original

Sul treno per Zurigo

Il treno per Zurigo è anche il treno di questi ruderi,
di queste case ai margini, sporche di polveri pesanti,
dove i muri si scrostano e si staccano dalle travi.

(«Usurpatori», dice l’uomo al telefono. «Gli stranieri,
i clandestini, gli immigrati: tutti».)

È anche il treno dei morti, questo: di chi è morto al lavoro,
tra tanti, e di chi sarebbe morto volentieri ma vive
abbandonato ai suoi spazi ristretti di sempre, dimenticato
da promesse lontane e nebulose.

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Excerpt translated by Moira Egan with Damiano Abeni

On the Train to Zürich

The train to Zürich is also the train of these ruins,
of these houses on the margins, soiled with heavy dust,
where the walls peel off and detach from the rafters.

(“Usurpers!” says the man on the telephone. “Damned foreigners,
illegals, immigrants: all of them!”)

It is also the train of the dead: of the many who died on the job;
the train of those who would gladly die but live on, abandoned,
always trapped in their usual tight spaces, forgotten
by vague and distant promises.

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“His precise language derives from his precise observation. A glimpse of the unknown immerses the scenes he describes in an atmosphere of fluctuating borders.” POESIA