Nanni Cagnone

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Nanni Cagnone
Nanni Cagnone in Genoa (2001), photograph by Pino Usicco
Nanni Cagnone in Genoa (2001), photograph by Pino Usicco
Born(1939-04-10)10 April 1939
Carcare, Liguria
GenrePoetry, drama, short story, novel, essay

Nanni Cagnone[1] (born in 1939 in Carcare, Liguria) is an Italian poet, novelist, essayist and playwright. He debuted as a poet in 1954 and since then has written several books, mostly poetry but also plays and novels, theoretical essays and aphorisms, from The Disabled Youth (1967) to The Oslo Lecture[2] (2008). He is the father of Benedicta Froelich, and is married to Sandra Holt. Currently lives in Bomarzo.


In the 1960s–1970s he was senior editor of Lerici Publishers, editor of Marcatré (an avant-garde magazine of art, literature, and music), managing editor of Design Italia, and more recently founded and headed the Italian publishing house Coliseum. He was also a professor of aesthetics and contributed articles to newspapers and cultural magazines, among them Chelsea Review, Incognita, Alea, Or, Il Giornale, Il Messaggero, Bonniers Litterära Magasin, FMR, Il Verri. His translations include Gerard Manley Hopkins' The Wreck of the Deutschland, Aeschylus' Agamemnon.,[3] Jack Spicer's The Heads of the Town Up to the Aether, Gabriel Magaña Merlo's Intolerante superficie, Paul Vangelisti's Solitude, Parmenides' Perì Physeos.

Cagnone's works are characterized by a clean, almost purist meditation, where mythology and modernity, feeling and criticism are compressed into a peculiar and intense ontological recovery. Cagnone is said to be one of the most innovative and distinctive poets of contemporary European literature.[4] His poems are used as lyrics for contemporary music. The Norwegian composer Harald Sæther has written a song cycle with lyrics from Index Vacuus, the cantata Obstupescit Venticinque with lyrics from What's Hecuba to Him or He to Hecuba? and A, in altre parole B, for three vocal quartets, by the poem with the same title.

About his own poetry, Cagnone writes: “Poetry is this interval between us and things, this interrupted feeling, the lost object in the home of desire. Poetry is an extraneous work, something sleep would teach awakening. It demands a passive feeling, a receptive thought and desires learnt by answering. Poetry is not the act of collecting the world like a rescuer of sense or a flatterer of language, but the aimless cult of an excessive figure and the experience of a faithfulness: that of a Saying, which doesn’t want to leave his Silent lover. Poetry is acting beyond, beyond what one manages to think”.


  • A, in altre parole B, an essay on painting (Genoa 1970)
  • What’s Hecuba to Him or He to Hecuba?, poems and essays (New York 1975)
  • Andatura, poetry (Milan 1979)
  • L’arto fantasma, essays (ed.) (Venice 1979)
  • Vaticinio, a poem (Naples 1984)
  • Notturno sopra il giorno, poetry (Milan 1985)
  • Armi senza insegne, poetry (Milan 1988)
  • G.M. Hopkins: Il naufragio del Deutschland (ed.) (Milan 1988)
  • Comuni smarrimenti, a novel (Milan 1990)
  • Anima del vuoto, poetry (Bari 1993)
  • Avvento, poetry (Bari 1995)
  • The Book of Giving Back,[5] a poem (New York 1998)
  • Il popolo delle cose, a poem (Milan 1999)
  • Enter Balthâzar, a short story (New York 2000)
  • Pacific Time, a novel (Milan 2001)
  • Doveri dell’esilio, poetry (Pavia 2002)
  • Questo posto va bene per guardare il tramonto, a play (Pavia 2002)
  • L’oro guarda l’argento,[6] selected works (Verona 2003)
  • Index Vacuus,[7] poetry (New York 2004)
  • Ça mérite un détour, a short story (Milan 2007)
  • Penombra, a short story (Rome 2009)
  • Aeschylus: Agamemnon (ed.) (Modena 2010)
  • Undeniable Things, poetry (Modena 2010)
  • Penombra della lingua, poetry (Rome 2012)
  • Perduta comodità del mondo, poetry (Rome 2013)
  • Tacere fra gli alberi, a poem (Turin 2014)
  • Discorde, essays (Lavis 2015)
  • Tornare altrove, poetry (Lavis 2016)
  • Corre alla sua sorte, prose (Messina 2017)
  • Cammina mare, prose (Lavis 2017)
  • Dites-moi, Monsieur Bovary, prose (Turin 2017)
  • Ingenuitas, poesia (Lavis 2017)
  • Le cose innegabili, poetry (Rome 2018)
  • La genitiva terra, poetry (Lavis 2019) ISBN 978-8895925-98-1
  • Mestizia dopo gli ultimi racconti, poetry (Lavis 2020) ISBN 978-88-95925-99-8
  • Accoglimento, poetry (Lavis 2020) ISBN 978-88-32236-03-3
  • Ex Animo, poetry (Lavis 2020) ISBN 978-8832236-08-8
  • G.M. Hopkins, Il naufragio del Deutschland (ed.) (Macerata 2021) ISBN 978-88-98820-38-2
  • Sterpi e fioriture, poetry (Lavìs 2021) ISBN 978-88-32236-18-7
  • Parmenides Remastered (Macerata 2022) ISBN 978-88-98820-49-8


  1. ^ Ridinger, Gayle; Renello, Gian Paolo; Caso, Adolph (1996). "Nanni Cagnone". Italian poetry 1950 – 1990. ISBN 9780937832349.
  2. ^ Cagnone, Nanni. The Oslo Lecture 2008 (Speech).
  3. ^ Marcheschi, Daniela (30 January 2011). "Eschilo fa risentire la sua voce tragica". Il Sole 24 Ore (in Italian).
  4. ^ "Nanni Cagnone". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  5. ^ Fernanda, Pivano (21 April 1998). "Cagnone, un metafisico che ama John Donne". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Archived from the original on 30 August 2012.
  6. ^ Ermini, Flavio (February 2007). "Nanni Cagnone, da L'oro guarda l'argento, con saggi di Paolo Aita ed Enrico Cerasi". Anterem (in Italian). Vol. IV, no. 6. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Edgewise - Cagnone". Edgewise Press. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)

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