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12 Pages

Risi, Nelo

Poet and film-maker Originally a medical graduate, Risi has never exercised his profession. In the immediate postwar period he made a number of documentary films, especially in Africa, and in the 1960s he also produced films for television and continued publishing poetry. Risi’s poetry is a poetry of content in which political and social issues take centre stage with a determination which is the cipher of his political and stylistic allegiance. In his numerous collections, from L’esperienza (Experience) (1948) to Amica mia nemica (My Friend My Enemy) (1976), the protagonists are often simple workers who are juxtaposed to unscrupulous capitalists and corrupt politicians, and even the more personal and autobiographical passages which recall childhood memories are interspersed with social critique. Notwithstanding the apparent focus on content over form, his poetry is informed by a poetic tradition which runs from Surrealism to Montale to the Italian avantgarde movement of the 1960s (see Gruppo 63). While remaining a fully engaged poet and director-among his more renowned films are Diario di una schizofrenica (Diary of a Schizophrenic) (1968) and Una stagione all’inferno (A Season in Hell) (1971)—Risi also acknowledges that literature and art are often inadequate and powerless in the face of political oppression and injustice.