Examining Italian



This poem is written Oulipo-style based on a challenge posted on the ModPo Facebook page by Massimo Soranzio, a fellow Oulipostian. Originally, Massimo shared an essay question from the Italian State Exam, in which students who chose the poetry option were to explain the first line of a poem by Salvatore Quasimodo. Within the comments section, several commenters suggested that the FB group write their own responses to the exam question. Massimo chose to frame his as an Oulipo response, which led me to think that I could write a cento based on selected quotes from Massimo’s original post and the FB comments section. The first line of my poem is alsothe first line of the Quasimodo poem assigned to the students.

Examining Italian

“It may be a true sign of life:”
Conjuring up absurd questions –
Could it be more subjective?
Any answer would require more experience.
We are beginning to get hints of that,
not meant to be provocative, just seeking context,
without knowing anything else.
Petty minds thinking great thoughts.

What is meaningful in our lives?
That’s only question 1; there’s much more.
To face the challenge of this question,
focus on the contrast between doubt…and certainty.
I have craved some silence.
– the first glimmer of an idea –


4 thoughts on “Examining Italian

  1. Ah, I found you – now I know how to get to your place. 😉

    Interesting to use of the cento form. I’m not on FB. I do like what you did here.
    Taking responses and forming a whole. Clever.

      • I can’t do every challenge. You have to pick and choose and enjoy what you do.

        There are places I’ve posted stuff and have gotten little or no reply from the ‘host’. I avoid those places now. It is hard sometimes to do a prompt and then feel guilty about not visiting everyone else who contributes. It’s one thing when there are maybe ten to visit, but harder when there are over fifty. I used to worry about it, but really one person can only do so much. Especially when they do have other obligations in the ‘real world’.

        And then I am lucky sometimes to find a prompt or be inspired just by visiting someone who visited me.

        It is all good. There are days we could fill books and other days just make simple single observations.

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