Stephen Sartarelli, "Pasolini: Poetry as Prism of the Universe"

October 25, 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

More than forty years after his brutal murder, how do we view Pier Paolo Pasolini now? People outside of Italy see him mostly as a filmmaker, secondly as a social critic, and only incidentally as a poet, if they even know he was a poet at all. And yet for Pasolini, poetry was the key to his entire artistic and intellectual endeavor, the center of his creative universe. And at the center of his notion of poetry lies the question of language: language vs dialect, universal language vs personal language, the language of words vs the language of images (the key to his passage into cinema), language as repository of culture, civilization, and ideology. To write something (in words or images) is not only a creative act but a political and civilizational one. To make something in the world is to be a poet. Pasolini saw his films, novels and critical writings as all part of his poetic oeuvre. And in them—in his romanticization of the pre-industrial peasant world, his portrayals of the dispossessed, his denunciations of the brutalities of consumer capitalism—he displayed a vision that, for all its topicality, seems to gain in resonance and relevancy with time. Yeats once said, in so many words, that the poet sees things before they happen. On this occasion I will discuss, primarily through the prism of Pasolini’s poetry, how the vision contained therein extends outwards not only into every facet of the poet’s life and creative production but also into many aspects of the culture and society at large during his time and, especially, in the decades that have followed.

This lecture by award-winning translator and poet Stephen Sartarelli is sponsored by the Department of French & Italian, with generous support from the University Honors College, the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, the Program in Cultural Studies, the Department of English, and the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. With additional support from the West Virginia University English Department and the Youngstown State University Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures.

Location and Address

The Humanities Center, 602 CL