“Da quella sponda,” “da questa sponda”
Un caso di studio sulla migrazione di ritorno in poesia
Keywords:Italian American studies, returning migrant, migration, contemporary poetry, diaspora
In the rich and ever-expanding body of studies on literature and migration, little space has been dedicated to returning migrants. Since the beginning of the 20th century, such a theme has become crucial in our contemporary globalized world. The present essay examines this theme in Italian-American literature, assuming Luciano Cecchinel’s poetical experience as a case study.
The poet’s ties with American culture stem from the history of his maternal ancestors, who came to the US during the years of the Great Emigration. After long peregrinations, they settled in Cambridge, Ohio, where their closest relatives joined them. During the Great Depression, economic difficulties forced his grandparents to return to Italy with their little daughter Annie, leaving the rest of the family behind, never to see them again.
Annie, the poet’s mother, strongly resented returning to Italy and leaving an America that she considered her homeland. She even initially refused to learn the Italian language. Having become a mother herself, Annie decided to teach her son English, her first language.
As a result of this “family odyssey,” Cecchinel has developed what Du Bois would call a double consciousness. So much so that Folco Portinari wonders whether the author is “an American poet who writes in Italian or an Italian poet who translates well from English.” These traits emerge in the collections of poems dedicated to his family diaspora, Lungo la traccia (2005) and Da sponda a sponda (2019), winner of the 2020 Viareggio Poetry Prize. Cecchinel’s poetry gives voice to the experiences of generations of returning migrants.
Based on interviews with the author, the article aims to explore his poetic journey with the twofold objective of analyzing the thematic and formal peculiarities of these collections, as well as providing new critical insights into the theme of return migration.
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