Floriana Coppola is a Neapolitan artist who moves between different forms of art such as poetry, prose and collage.
She was born and lives in Napoli, a city which, while not naming, is clearly present in most of her works. In Napoli, the earth constantly vibrates due to the underground perpetual contrast between fire and water and souls unravel between salvation and damnation. More than a city it is a world whose survival is a daily challenge and the inhabitants are inclined to positively reinvent themselves. Precisely in this city that experiences intensely opposing energies, art and sentiment proliferate continuously and every creative expression is imbued with ancient culture, rich in symbols and metaphors, rich in customs and traditions the same that every Neapolitan brings with him in everyday life.
Daughter of this culture, before being an artist, as a woman, Floriana is aware of her multiple roles which, despite the difficulties, she has learned to manage over time and, with the help of literature and poetry.
Through literature, feelings and perceptions can be articulated and transformed. Especially poetry manages to influence the relationships between people and assists in going through even intolerable pains. Indeed poetry is a therapy of the soul, both for those who read it and for those who compose it. Perhaps it does not heal existential psychological wounds, but certainly helps to look beyond.
From Floriana’s poems read and listened to, which are found on internet, the close link between reality, symbolism and the imaginary emerges. The gaze is introspective and human, sometimes soft, sometimes hard, other times provocative or imbued with fear, charm and magic but also careful towards the use of words closest to a touchable reality. There is a subversive force in the poetic word and some experience of the language is needed in order to be able to give voice to your inner world. It’s also true that, as she says in one of her poems, words can turn out to be terrible cages, however constant study and their use guided by courage and rationality can help to cross many of their limits.
During the poetic composition, rationality supports the whole process but the fundamental part is played by the visionary alchemy, which adds a lot to the creative engine of her works.
Floriana sets aside her own self, to be simply human, a human that can include different genders, ages and conditions. In order to do this she always questions herself considering the changing cultural reference models of society and proceeds with an open heart with the awareness of belonging to a wholeness, orienting herself towards the necessary balance. To better reach this balance she also gives space to the opposition of the word by practicing oriental meditation. Thus she knows the void and listen to the silence of the self in favor of the sound of the universe. In fact her poem is not born as a narcissistic reflection of the ego but is aimed at reflection of the other for a social improvement.
Since she was a child, writing has been for her a form of meditation and analysis of human and social behavior. When traveling, she always keeps a notebook and a pen, to write down her notes. Writing, as she says, helps her perceiving reality through the empathic representation of each character and then the plot draws the process of change that each person can experience to feel vital and authentic, against any gender stereotypes, against any unjust hypergeneralization.
Her most recent novel entitled La Bambina, il Carro e la Stella (The Girl, the Cart and the Star) is the story of a Romanian girl who lives on the street in a southern city. A novel about two worlds that intersect and contaminate each other causing changes in the girl.
The intent of the work is to achieve a realistic and broad representation beyond any stereotype and cliché. In this work her intention is to give a voice to those who have no voice and to try to open the minds of readers inviting them to overcome the barriers and limits of ignorance and narrow-mindedness dictated by stereotypes and insensitivity that makes them less and less human.
Poetry, and literature in general, are a political act. The poem, without hesitation, comes as raw and direct to the reader as the song to the listener and it is a powerful weapon. A weapon that fights and also can turn against. It is not only for the pleasure of reading, but also for learning, for relating, for discovering and for denouncing.
Through her stories, novels and poems Floriana deals with social issues and works giving a voice to the weakest, to those who live their dramas in the shadows. Through the art of collage she does the same. She loves to draw as she loves writing. She experiences the intertwining of the two artistic expressions in the collage of verbal-visual poetry. Passionate about the painters and collagist Chagall and Mirò, she subsequently found in Dadaism a further motivation to continue the accomplice partnership between word and form. Following that style, she removes the commercial purpose from journalistic material to destabilize and launch provocative messages that leave your eyes widening at the highlighted words, verses, signs and materials.
Beside everything art also has a role in educating and enlightening consciences, therefore like Floriana, every artist should have an enlightening and proactive vision.
We interviewed her to get to know her better with the hope of soon being able to see and read more directly from her pen.
I.P. – Poet, novelist, painter, counselor in Transactional Analysis and in Existential Psychology, woman, mother and, until recently, also a teacher. What is the secret to manage all these roles without conflicting with each other? –
F.C. – To say it was simple would be a mystification. I have tried in my life the anxiety to reconcile the times of the family sphere with the public and professional ones. Even today, in the third millennium, every woman experiences the battle between being a source of care for her family and being able to develop her own talents. I believe, after so many years of work, I can say that there has been a great synergy between all my souls. The study and love for literature and for humanistic psychology have been of great help to me both in my work as a teacher, being a teacher of Italian literature, and in meeting my children and people. Nothing is closed and remained in its own sphere but it is fluid everywhere, creating significant emotional bonds. Personal evolution can integrate the two aspects, the political and the private one. I say “political” because for me poetry and literature are always a political act, because they tend to transform the energy field of social reference, influencing the relationships between men and women, between adolescents and key figures, between those who oppresses and who is oppressed. Literature has always allowed us to fully experience even the most unbearable pain and to see beyond, to overcome self-centered visions. –
I.P. – You are Neapolitan and write in Italian. What relationship do you have with the Neapolitan language? –
F.C. – I write in Italian but my books, both novels, short stories and poetic syllogues, are deeply conditioned by the Neapolitan language, which emerge in fragments in the dialogues and verses. Above all, the Neapolitan symbology is a source of inspiration and philosophical and existential suggestion. In the novels we talk about a city that is never mentioned but which is certainly my hometown. Some characters use words in dialect, important for their expressive charge. The Neapolitan language has in itself a particular conception of the world, of time and of the interaction between people. It carries within each syntagma a profound signature that conditions us and that keeps a profound and obsessive ethical instance alive in me. –
I.P. – If “Neapolitanity” matters to you, to what extent does being Neapolitan interact with your creativity? –
F.C. – As a writer, I have a very strong bond with my land. Living in Napoli is an experience that marks you deeply. Beauty and horror are two contemporary perceptions that it offers and that you wear like a second skin. An endless struggle between the ferocious beauty of the places that amazes and captures, that natural beauty in perfect balance between the sky, the sea and the lines of the territory transformed by human interventions and the horror of being involved in a still lame dramatic story, full of questions unresolved, such as the extreme poverty of some areas, the corruption and illegality that distorts segments of the population, the institutional neglect that cannot be overcome. Everything becomes an existential metaphor for the battle between what is good and what is bad, between what is right and what is ethically intolerable. These heartbreaking contradictions have conditioned me to consider my creativity also a necessary tool of political militancy. As an intellectual I feel the urgency to give voice to the unhealed wounds of my land, to the people who have no voice. In my novels I start from this wound, so that it becomes an open door to raise awareness and denounce issues that are particularly close to my heart. The protagonists of my stories belong to the world of the invisible, destitute children, street children, single mothers, women in difficulty, exploited and abused. I try in writing to identify the transformative and repairing breakthrough that allows me to find the way to emerge, to free myself from the constraints. So existential novels. And poetry also maintains this figure. –
I.P. – Can you tell us about Floriana as a collagist? –
F.C. – After the painters collagist Chagall and Mirò, the Dadaist Tristan Tzara, Man Ray and especially Hannah Hock have been tremendous sparks for my imagination, giving me permission to take risks and experiment with multiple combinations of words, lines, signs and material elements. The fragments of reality are ripped out of their universe to be inserted into another story. A reformulation that indicates a resemantization. Dadaism was born to demonstrate the pacifist dissent of some groups of young artists during World War I. Now the criticism of the consumerist use of the woman’s body in modern capitalist society, which sells everything and buys everything, seems even more urgent. We are just lobotomized consumers, no longer critical citizens. With new technologies we have come to be simultaneously and often unknowingly consumers and producers of data (prosumers), which others often use for commercial purposes. In verbal-visual poetry I try to denounce this loss of humanity. –
I.P. – Being a woman in 2022 is still a curse. Last September the Iranian musician and poet Mona Borzouei was arrested by the Iranian government for reading a poem in support of protests over the killing of Mahsa Amini.How decisive is the political value of poetry? And how much more scary is the woman? –
F.C. – Today Arab and Middle Eastern women remind us of what Simone de Beauvoir said:
“Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis will be enough for women’s rights to be called into question. These rights are never acquired. Women you must remain vigilant throughout your life.”
An important quote from which my reflection starts. Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider wrote an important essay in 2018 entitled Why does patriarchy persist? These American intellectuals study the psychological repercussions of the patriarchal structure on male and female gender identity and say that patriarchy influences and structures a binary thought that still opposes the male script – based on power and action, on the inhibition of emotions, on emotional detachment, on mind/body separation – from the female script, which is characterized by anxious and complusive caregiving and by the difficulty in getting in touch with one’s own needs, with the deepest needs of the self, as well as by a compliant behavior excessive aimed at maintaining relationships. –
I.P. – Does poetry relieve wounds, intensify pain or is it a sacred testimony? –
F.C. – No potentiality can be excluded in making poetry. There is no single effect. Writing verses helps to focus on a problematic knot and then dissolves it through metaphor and word. Writing in itself has a thaumaturgical effect but certainly does not solve. One can stand still in a traumatic situation through poetry, always returning obsessively to the same point. We need to evaluate the personal history of each author and each author to understand the ultimate meaning of her writing. Literature is full of women poets who committed suicide and for each of them poetry was not enough to save themselves. We think of Amelia Rosselli, Silvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Claudia Ruggeri. –
I.P. – Western culture considers art only and exclusively what is business, what is salable. Do you have any considerations to make about it? –
F.C. – Unfortunately, when you decide to publish a book, you enter a very thorny commercial circuit. In Italy, on average, every Italian reads only five books a year and certainly not poetry books and not books by little-known authors or authors linked to small publishing houses that do not have the economic strength to face the costs of distribution and advertising. Therefore, writing in Italy outside the big publishing houses is a precise choice and writing poetry even more so. We know perfectly well that we are out of business. No one thinks of living by publishing poetry. We are aware that poetry intercepts an audience that belongs to a minority. But poetic passion deserves this commitment, which becomes an ethical and political exercise of tenacity, determination and value affirmation. –
I.P. – Someone says that art can save the world. Do you agree with this statement or is it just an illusion? –
F.C. – Can art save the world from man and from his destructive and self-destructive capacity? Can art stop the capitalist logic of the exploitation of human resources and the land? Can art stop the criminal logic that leads to corruption and crimes? Absolutely no. We cannot delude ourselves about this and yet when a person approaches art, poetry, literature, music, he broadens his gaze, becomes capable of empathizing with the other, with those who belong to foreign cultures. Art teaches the value of an extended and cohesive human family, it teaches peace and respect for every creature. It teaches listening and the patience of discipline. –
I.P. – Which of your books would you recommend to a reader who is just approaching your poetry? –
F.C. – Logically, to understand the poetics of each author, one should read his entire production, but I believe that my latest works are certainly the result of my literary maturity. I indicate here the issues that have been closest to my heart and that I have tried to represent: the right to a happy childhood for children, the existential self-determination of women, the fight against all gender stereotypes, the denunciation of male violence against women , the perverse logic of exploitation in capitalist society. the beauty of nature and the need for spirituality of every human creature. In the poems of the first collections up to the last sylloge published by Terra di Ulivi, La Vertigine del Taglio (The Vertigo of Cutting), in the stories and novels I have tried to intertwine these themes that have always inspired me. Giving a voice to those who have no voice, to the oppressed, to the least. –
I.P. – Can you tell us something about your latest novel published by Terra di Ulivi, La Bambina, il Carro e la Stella (The Little Girl, the Cart and the Star)? –
F.C. – It is a coming-of-age novel that tells the story of a little girl of Romanian origins in a nomad camp. She lives on the street in a southern city that is never mentioned, but which is our Napoli. Two worlds that intersect, touch and contaminate each other to determine a transformation in the girl, which passes through a path of problematic and painful identification. A novel that wants to overcome both idyllic and negative stereotypes around the Roma ethnicity, until it reaches a realistic and broad representation. Marika’s intelligent vitality leads us into her marginal world, which borders on the metropolis. During the narration, there are references to dramatic episodes of national news that bring attention to the issue of nomad camps. I have inserted between one chapter and another pieces of poetic prose, intervals that help to broaden every perception, in this journey into the tradition and problems of the wandering people. But my intention was to reverse the gaze of those who always judge the different as a person who must be re-educated, in order to understand that every culture has its own dignity, its own paradigm, its own evolution that arises from the encounter, and each choose what to leave and what to take. –
Floriana Coppola biographical note
Neapolitan writer, literature teacher, professional counselor in Transactional Analysis and Existential Psychology, specialized in Didactics and Gender Culture and in Autobiographical Writing. She is a member of the Italian Society of Literature, she writes as editor in the online literary magazine Menabò, and participates with articles and reviews in the online magazines Lo Spazio di Atena; Readaction magazine and Letterate magazine. Her texts are present in numerous poetic anthologies.
The production of her:
in 2005 it was released the poetic sylloge Il trono dei Mirti (The throne of the myrtles), published by Melagrana onlus publisher;
in 2012 the poetic collection Sono Nata Donna (I was born a woman), Boopen Led/Photocity;
in 2011/12 were released the first two poetry anthology notebooks Alchimie e Linguaggi di Donne (Women’s alchemy and languages) Boopen Led/Photocity, and the poetry anthology with Ketti Martino La poesia è una città (Poetry is a city) Boopen Led / Photocity.
in 2012 Homo Scrivens published the novel Vico Ultimo della Sorgente (Last alley of the source) and La Vita Felice publisher released the poetic collection Mancina nello sguardo (Left hand in the gaze);
in 2013 she wrote with Anna Laura Bobbi the poetic sylloge Mitica Futura (She mythical future), itineraries in the myth of yesterday and today published by Dalia.
Floriana Coppola is present in the poetic anthologies La Percezione Dell’Invisibile (The perception of the invisible) published by Giuseppe Vetromile, and Alter Ego. Poeti al Mann (Alter ego. Poeti al Mann.) curated by Marco de Gemmis and Ferdinando Tricarico, Le Strade della Poesia (The roads of poetry) curated by Mimmo Cipriano, Ifigenia siamo noi (We are Ifigenia) curated by Pino Vetromile published by Scuderi. She is in the anthology of civil poetry Risvegli poetici (Poetic awakenings) edited by Lorenzo Spurio, published by Poetikanten, in the poetry and fiction anthology Ciò che Caino non Sa ( What Cain doesn’t know) by Maria Teresa Infante.
With Lory Nugnes, she edits the poetic anthologies of the Wandering Poets movement Contatti di/versi (Contacts of / verses and or different Contacts) (It is a joke of words – ed.) and Oltre la Coltre di Silenzio (Beyond the blanket of silence) published by Decomporre. Present in the critical essays by Raffaele Messina Letti tutti di un fiato (Read all in one breath) published by Homo Scrivens, in Le Forme della Poesia (The forms of poetry) edited by Raffaele Urraro, published by La Vita Felice, Il Luogo della Parola (The place of the word) edited by Alessandro Ramberti, by Fara publisher.
in 2014 she released the novel Donna Creola (Creole Woman) and Gli Angeli del Cortile (the angels of the courtyard), published by La Vita Felice;
in 2016 she came out her new anthology of stories, poems and monologues Femminile Singolare (Feminine singular) published by Homo Scrivens;
in 2016 she is present with a literary critical contribution on Claudia Ruggeri in the anthology edited by Luigi Cannillo Passione Poesia (Passion poetry). Readings of contemporary poetry CFR publisher;
in 2017 she published the collection of poems Cambio di stagione e altre mutazioni poetiche (Change of season and other poetic mutations), published by Oedipus, now in reprint.
In 2017 Floriana is present in the number 4 of Trivio magazine, published by Oedipus;
in 2018 and 2019 she is present in the anthology Poesia a Napoli (Poetry in Napoli), Guida publisher;
in 2019 she published the anthology La Faglia del Fuoco (La fault of fire), with engravings by Aniello Scotto, published by Il Laboratorio.
Also in 2019 she has released the novel Aula Voliera (aviary classroom), published by Oedipus, now in reprint;
in 2019 she is present in the poetic anthology Speciale Poesia Campania (Campania special poetry)published by Joker;
in 2021 Terra di Ulivi published the collection of poetic prose La Vertigine del Taglio (The vertigo of cutting);
in 2022, the same publisher released the novel La Bambina, il Carro e la Stella (The little girl, the cart and the star).