Artistic ramifications of an Irpino poet. Meet Domenico Cipriano.

There is talk of a crisis of poetry. The truth is that the crisis does not concern poetry, but rather the masses, those who live in a state of perpetual crisis, a crisis that justifies consumerism of any kind, even that of words, those “disposable” words worthy of that pseudo culture that offers them to us.

In fact, the internet system with its algorithms does nothing but direct the mass towards greater superficiality for the sake of profit and quick consumption. While that elite who read and appreciated the poetic language continues to do so by expanding thanks to easier circulation through the network and social media.

Someone complains that this ease of diffusion entails the risk of missing, among the many poems, the truly valid ones. This is a relative truth that depends on the cultural background of internet users and how they use it.

Meanwhile, thanks to the internet, we have been able to connect with someone who suggested the artist that we are presenting in this spot.

His name is Domenico Cipriano and he is an excellence of Campania.

photo©AngeloJZanecchia
Domenico Cipriano – Photo©AngeloJZanecchia

Born in 1970, Domenico is the witness of a period of changes, that he writes in verse, as he says, relying on the words in a carnal way.

Being a man from the south he expresses his passion through the bond with his homeland; in the relationships between people and in the search for human contact and human awareness.
His poetry  takes charge of existential values. Starting from a place he give us back reality through the truth of facts, feelings and sensations.

Since his childhood Domenico felt the need to create, to share experiences and reflections in an artistic way and in poetry he found the highest form of expressive creativity.
He writes poetry wherever he is. Most of the time he uses the computer only after a first draft made with the romantic ballpoint pen.

According to him writing should help strengthen one’s idea of the world and should help to rely on choices that follow those ideas, such as, attention to the weakest; knowledge and coexistence with different cultures; respect and care for nature and for what surrounds us; the need to feel part of a community that places art and knowledge as necessary and fundamental goods for every individual.

The infancy spent in Guardia Lombardi, in the province of Avellino, and the university years spent in Napoli are identified in his soul as two sides of the same coin.

He tells us that the atmosphere of the city with the solitude of its suburbs, the lively urban rhythms and the call of the sea are elements that have always exerted a profound fascination on him.
These are the components that meet in his poetry made of bewitching habit and methodical poetics and which tells the grace of everyday life of the characteristic mountain landscapes of Irpinia; of the Tyrrhenian coasts; of solitudes and friendships; what remains more authentic and real despite any virtual world you want to oppose it.

His poems have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Among the works cited in the artist’s biography, we want to draw your attention to something that we believe is important which, in addition to the artistic value, is a precious document of the history of Campania.

https://www.amazon.it/Novembre-CD-Audio-Domenico-Cipriano/dp/8875801169

It is called Novembre (November) and is a collection dedicated to the Irpinia earthquake of November 23rd, 1980.
The collection follows a precise numerology that sees an introduction made of 11 verses, where 11 represents the eleventh month, and a sequence of 23 poems, a number that refers to the date of the earthquake, all composed of 7-line verses, with 34 verses in the prologue, numbers indicating the time when the shock occurred, that was 7:34 PM.

A disarming pain comes from the intense and suggestive memories of a very traumatic experience, especially for a child, the poet, who was 10 years old at the time.
Being an eyewitness of a forced change, he describes the destruction breathing the dust and recounts the reconstruction conscious of the incurability of certain wounds whose pain can only be alleviated but which will forever accompany the soul of those who have seen and experienced such dramatic moments. As a poet he punctuates this tragedy with kind words and verses that also celebrate the victims of this misfortune.

 

 

Photo©Dino Ignani
Domenico Cipriano at StonyBrookeUniversity- Photo©Luigi Cipriano

Published in 2010, Novembre was translated into English as November with
an Introduction by Barbara Carle, in 2015 and presented at the Center for Italian Studies at New York University, in Stony Brook, in 2017.

Alongside the rich literary production, the multi-award-winning poet has gone further by opening up to the interaction of artistic languages, linking poetry to music, more specifically to jazz, which has led him to collaborate with various musicians and to the creation of two cds of poetry and music: Le note richiamano i versi (The notes recall the verses) and Ramificazioni (Ramifications), the latter together with the accordionist Carmine Ioanna featuring trumpeter Paolo Fresu.

Domenico Cipriano - Ramificazioni CD cover
Domenico Cipriano & Carmine Ioanna Feat. Paolo Fresu – Ramificazioni ; Abeat Records – Italy · 2021.

The sharing of poetry with music brings any listener back to an ancient sacredness of the artistic moment.

Until that time he had never used the dialect in his publications. At the end of 2021 his first work of music and poetry mainly features dialectal verses. It is a sort of dialogue with Carmine Ioanna who plays the accordion, which is a traditional instrument, in an innovative and sophisticated way. Domenico considers this moment a good occasion to recover a writing that belongs to him, a language that lives within him and that his passion brings out.
In fact, the libretto that accompanies the work of music and poetry immerged him in the written codification of his native language. Another project involving the two artistic forms is called E.Versi Jazz Poetry with which he is planning to make a record next Winter.

E.Versi.jazz.poetry-Photo©Luigi Cipriano
E.Versi.jazz.poetry-Photo©Luigi Cipriano

Domenico’ activity as a poet is supported by other cultural initiatives such as the organization of literary events and music festivals in the Avellino area.

Since the university years he began to confront and collaborate with poets and writers from Napoli, also attending the association La Parola Abitata and also inviting poets from Campania to the poetry meetings he organized.

This Summer he is busy as the protagonist of various literary events. Recently he was part of the jury at the “Marco Di Meola” National Poetry Prize organized by the Gerardino Romano Foundation. He is also working on the release of a new collection of poems.

Despite having a scientific background (he studied Economics and Commerce and is employed at the CNR food science institute in Avellino) Domenico lives poetically, indeed, this dualism gives greater completeness to his works. It is the same dualism that belonged to the ancient Greek philosophers.
Just like them he gives space to wonder, to the sacredness of slow moments with their silences and to the experience of beauty that he hands down by expressing in verse perhaps from under a tree contemplating idyllic little pictures of the human soul.

We asked Domenico some questions about poetry, technology and the relationship between music and poetry.

 

NAP – Through the Internet, despite the temporary possibility of distribution open to all, Western society defines new “artistic” models that aim exclusively at numbers. What are your thoughts on this? –

D.C. – Visibility has always had its importance. Before it was popularity in a small circle of people or a small community, now the stage is always as big as the world. But it’s up to us to know how to interpret this visibility. Poetry has always escaped the sales numbers, even in the face of the poet’s notoriety. We are speaking, in fact, of a popularity linked to a group of people interested in poetry, capable of deciphering it artistically and understanding its importance or not. Even today, despite the possibility of making one’s poetry known to a wider audience, the consideration that one has among insiders remains important. Poetry remains an artistic form of commitment and requires an education in reading it, however, sometimes numbers help to find the attention that cannot be obtained in poetic circles, for various reasons. Thus, being able to sell your art to a large audience is one way to get your work recognized. However, the risk of those who rely only on numbers is to write and publish what is salable at that moment, losing the main reason for writing it or trivializing their work. Whether it is true glory or not will be the quality of the lyrics to determine it over time. –

NAP – New AI software can write anything from literary essays to songs and poems. It suffices to insert the theme of the poem that one intends to compose and, on the basis of a system not fed by any authentic human feeling, one moves between statistically productive standards which always remain in the same range of forms and words and also possible styles, in any case already existing and known. Do you think this can bring people closer to poetry or will this new idea lead to the death of poetry? –

D.C. – I haven’t used these applications yet, but I’m following their developments with interest. Every novelty with which artistic creation can interact must be studied in depth. Already in 1961 Nanni Balestrini created a poetic text with the aid of the computer of the time, using an algorithm, the poem was Tape Mark I. It was an experiment on language and today many are carried out with modern artificial intelligence software. All the more reason I believe that poetry must recover that importance of experience and lived experience that a reworking of a theme will never be able to restore without the poet’s sayability. Each of us can write a poem on commission or on a theme, we could be dealing with a poetic text, but not a poem, which software can do, certainly even better. For me, poetry remains an experience in which one has a poetic to express, I have always been linked to a phrase by Thomas Stearns Eliot: “A poem is not poetry, poetry is life”. –

NAP – Do you believe that anyone can enjoy the beauty of poetry or that it is necessary to educate to beauty, and therefore also to poetry in order to enjoy it? –

D.C. – We are all attracted by beauty and the encounter with it can be sudden, linked to an event, to the knowledge of a person… If each of us encounters something that awakens a memory, an interest that could settle unconsciously, we can become a user or a creator. But to become such you need to dedicate yourself, you also have a favorable environment that creates the opportunities for such sudden encounters. Then, to enjoy it, you need to get closer and closer to beauty, wanting to know its secrets, its language, an education that can take place through others, but above all through your own need to deepen. For many years I have organized an event where poetry, in addition to being an opportunity to bring together about 200 poets, mainly from Campania, for 2 days, with collective readings in the squares, approached an audience that would probably never have encountered poetry , remembering it as a boring childhood exercise. It was a way of offering today’s poetry, even with musical moments, among the people, bringing the place to life, Guardia Lombardi (my hometown in the Campania hinterland), both by the poets and by allowing the community to listen to poetry readings and get to know the authors. Furthermore, there were moments of critical reflection, more demanding, which made it possible to educate those who were interested or simply curious: they were encounters with beauty that left their mark. –

NAP – What determined the choice of the Jazz genre to accompany your readings? –

D.C. – In addition to poetry, my great passion has always been music, especially jazz and contemporary research music, also thanks to my first university years in the historic center of Naples, where I lived near a record store and the clerk who took care of the jazz department (I still remember the name: Maurizio) played me many new music releases, as well as historical recordings, before I bought a single record with the weekly savings from university expenses. Naples, moreover, was also the place of concerts heard in the clubs, especially Neapolitan jazz musicians, but also in theaters where you could listen to great international names and where you found yourself among fans of the genre as well as friends. Bringing these two artistic forms together has always been a quest for me. I started with a personal stylistic choice, present in my books, to indicate an ideal passage at the beginning of each section of poetry, which artistically expressed – starting from the title – an interpretation of the main theme of the section, but in the vision of a musician ; then, I started really collaborating with musicians. This also occurred by listening to some jazz artists, of whom I was passionate, who had collaborated with poets in the golden age of the beat generation and, deepening the spirit of jazz-poetry, kept alive since the early twentieth century by some poets of the United States, it made me feel the need to create concrete projects between poetry and jazz. In 2004 I made a first album entitled “The notes recall verses”, which contains poems inspired by the world of jazz music for the trio of pianist Enzo Orefice (with bassist Piero Leveratto and drummer Ettore Fioravanti) and the voice of ‘actor Enzo Marangelo, recording the work in a Naples studio a few years earlier. Subsequently, I started reading my poems with the trumpeter Carmine Cataldo and the keyboardist Fabio Lauria, with the “e.Versi jazz-poetry” formation with which we have been performing for years in various contexts interested in this genre and in literature and literature festivals. music. Infinte, the CD that largely contains dialectal poems, “Ramificazioni”, created with Carmine Ioanna and the well-known trumpeter Paolo Fresu, released in December 2021. To this are added many meetings over the years that have given rise to specific shows, such as with the Atlantico quartet (Enzo Orefice, Stefano Saccone, Gianluca Marino, Lorenzo Petruzziello) for shows with actors such as Alessandro Haber or Sergio Rubini) or the multimedia idea “Parole Necessarie”, created with the guitarist Alessandro Cataldo. In all these projects the music is inspired by poems and their themes, allowing jazz improvisation to have its place in live songs, with real concerts where the poet is a soloist like the other musicians are. –

NAP – In the simultaneous expression of poetry and music, what determines the choice of a specific piece in you? –


D.C. – The music that is linked to my poetry is born specifically around the theme of the text and its rhythm or the atmosphere that the interpretation of the verses creates. In turn, poetry too, in its reading, adapts to the music created, a real interaction between the two arts is sought. It is a creative process that, initially, needs its time to establish an understanding between the protagonists, but then develops naturally. The projects with the different musicians also define the music that is created around the lyrics. For example, if on the album Le notes recall the rhythms of a classic jazz trio (piano, bass and drums), they make the right rhythm for texts that speak of the world of jazz and which are written with a very rhythmic phonetics, in the Ramifications project the choice of Carmine Ioanna’s accordion makes dialectal poetry alive or, in any case, that speaks of the territory. Finally, the E.Versi jazz-poetry formation is characterized by its own recognizable style, given by the encounter between several genres, with a prevalence of ambient, fusion and funky rhythms but, above all, by the combination between the sound of Carmine Cataldo’s trumpet with the electronics created by keyboardist Fabio Lauria. After all, I have always written poetry that has been defined as musical, because it contains an internal sonority, that very Mediterranean need for musicality, as well as often containing rhythms inspired by my passion for music. I think that poetry, especially when it is proposed orally to an audience, should solicit everyone’s imagination and emotion in a few verses, and music adds the emotional boost to this process. –

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Bio photo Domenico Cipriano
Photo©Dino Ignani

Domenico Cipriano Biographical note

Domenico Cipriano. (Guardia Lombardi, Italy, 1970). Winner of the Lerici-Pea 1999 Prize for the unpublished work, he has published: Il Continente perso (The lost continent) (pref. Plinio Perilli, Fermenti, 2000, Camaiore Prize for the first work), Novembre (November) (pref. Antonio La Penna, Transeuropa, 2010, rose list for the Viareggio Prize ), Il centro del mondo (The center of the world) (pref. Maurizio Cucchi, Transeuropa, 2014), November (bilingual edition edited by Barbara Carle, Gradiva Publications, New York, 2015) and L’Origine (The origin) (L’arcolaio, 2017). In January 2020 the anthology La grazia dei frammenti (The grace of fragments) (selected poems 2000-2020) was published (pref. Luigi Fontanella, Giuliano Ladolfi publisher, 2020). At the end of 2020, Plinio Perilli published the monographic essay on Domenico Cipriano’s poetry, entitled La distanza dalle cose (The distance from things) (Macabor publisher). He has collaborated with various artists and has created the CDs of jazz and poetry JPband: Le note richiamano versi (Le notes recall verses) (Abeatrecords, 2004) and Domenico Cipriano & Carmine Ioanna ft. Paolo Fresu: Ramificazioni (Ramifications) (Abeatrecords, 2022). He leads the training in music and poetry E.Versi jazz-poetry and the multimedia project Parole Necessarie (Necessary words). Poems by him are featured in magazines and anthologies. Some texts have been translated into various languages, including: English, Spanish, Greek, Chinese.