Annika Pettini, poet, Milan

Your life in a few lines, right where it starts

It starts in the place that will tie my imagination forever. I was born in a tiny village between the sensual curves of the Langhe, nourished by the work of my grandfather’s land and his gnarled hands like the vines he cared for, from the colorful and present seasons and the freedom to move around the fields that do not hide dangers at no age. I started writing poetry because it seemed the easiest way to talk with trees.

I grew up slowly and I think this is one of the biggest fortunes I’ve had: first the village, then the small city, then the big city and then away, the world has lost its borders and feet, trains and planes arrive everywhere. Every test of life has had its moment and its space and this has allowed me to learn to observe everything and everyone and to be meticulously ravenous.

Put together were the years that have left me in my hands some of the fruits and the most important people of my life, who have marked all the steps that came later.

A verse by Marguerite Duras haunted me for a long time: ‘living in terms of writing’.

Do you believe it is possible (not only materially, I mean more of the omnivorous side of nowadays life)?

Lately I happen more often to be silent or to observe certain situations, I do not interact or react on the moment but I take them home, I reflect and then I write something, maybe a letter, a poem, an email and I make sure that the people who were involved receive it. Because writing is time, it is a rhythm that dances between words and escapes the more material and furious aspect of life. Writing is a languid landscape in which so many things happen and you realize you are able to see them all, and this thing will always have the best on the writer. Those who live in terms of writing can not do otherwise, it is a vital organ that beats together with the heart. Simply, there are no alternatives.

How do you make your poetry visible and shareable and what do you think you will undertake tomorrow to increase your permeability as a writer towards a world made up of social and very discontinuous readers?

I have a very simple blog, almost an archive of my work, which I opened many years ago but I like to keep it because for me it was the way to prove to myself that I could do it, I could write and I could exist as a writer. I like to use instagram for poems and projects but the most important part of my writing remains that linked to art: short stories inserted in arts exhibitions, poems, residencies, sensitivity returns that come from the world in which I formed, that is the one of visual art. What I understood, while maintaining such a transversal path, is that the important thing is to be: to be a safe and stable refuge. The reader can go, come, forget you for a while, but it is essential that the day he decides to come back he can find you waiting for him, waiting for him because he is important; and each time you will be able to discover new nuances or new depths in your work and make them his own.

The work of a writer lives on the needs of the reader and therefore, given the discontinuity and compulsiveness of life at this time, I, with my texts, I want to offer exactly the opposite: they are a solid, deep and safe refuge. Come back when you want, I’ll be there.

What do you think about giving in Milan and what do you think you are receiving in return?

Milan for me is the lover I want to pretend not to have. A little I mistreated it but then I always come back. What I try to give it is a slightly humoral approach to things – instinctive, wild, sensitive and even a little romantic, which never hurts.

Milan in exchange offers me many opportunities but gives me none: it constantly teaches me that for the things you believe in you have to fight and work hard.

The book and the music with you right now?

Books (always too many at the same time): I have Virginia Woolf’s Cruise, Alvaro Enrique’s The death of an artist and All the honey is over by Carlo Levi. Leon Bridges accompanies my ears.

Favorite foods and drinks?

I love eating, give me food and I will be a happy woman, especially if it is genuine and homemade. The plin (small piemontese ravioli) with butter and sage or dressed with the ragout always find space in my stomach. And for drinking, having grown up in the Langhe, I have a passion for good wine in all its nuances.

Where do you see yourself in just 10 years?

Ten years can be a thousand lives, especially for the intensity with which I try to live everything that comes. At this moment in history it is impossible to make predictions for the future, it is all too uncertain, but I can choose with which values ​​to live things. Not being able to choose ‘what’ allows me to be able to choose ‘how’ and I have chosen sensitivity as a weapon of life, in its shameless and feminine sincerity. As far as writing is concerned, I know it can not be separated from me, I know that I will find the space and the solidity for my voice.

What have you learned so far from life?

So many things, I always try not to be superficial and to reflect. But perhaps two are the most important things of all: human beings are incredible creatures to believe in. Give everyone a chance and be curious about the lives of others because they are amazing, without being held back by fear for disappointments.

And then Nature, she is truly the undisputed sovereign of our world and we absolutely must work with her, talk with her, return to feel part of her and her children.

We’ve translated in English and published two poems and one short story by Annika Pettini: Gifts, Cheap Wine and Cigarette Ash, La frequenza delle storie (da 1 a 9)

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