Francesco Tardio, poet

Your life in a few lines

I was born in San Marco in Lamis (Foggia) 22 years ago, I grew up there. 

At 19 I moved to Naples – it was 2018 – where I study Sociology.

I come from a provincial background but – either for my family environment or for the circumstances – I have found myself at the center of a lively cultural universe since I was a child.

From the age of 12 I attended Freak, a non profit club in my town where a young fellow citizen of mine also held writing workshops.

There I also experienced radio conducting and theater.

Indi e fore was one of the two programs I invented and conducted, the title is a word from our dialect that indicates low-lying, ground-floor and street-facing housing units; it means ‘inside and outside’ if literally translated in Italian language.

In this context I found, as you can imagine, many expressive possibilities.

What was the other radio format?

Dolly the Sheep: we were still in high school when I performed it with my classmates, we had a lot of fun by filling the void of the province.

I learned there that human (and cultural) growth comes from interacting with others. Especially in the writing workshops before – and now in the poetry writing group that we have formed. 

We are called poetrynslamis, we are always based in S. Marco where we have been given this name. We meet during the summer when we organize a poetry event that, this year, on August 10th, was open to everyone.

We are gradually trying to open the scene via specific calls, two years ago the theme was city as a labyrinth, this summer the apocalypse.

A call is really needed to get to know the poets first and then merge ourselves in sharing on specific topics. This is how our group was born too: we met to read our writings together and we slowly formalized the reading.

Is your group animated only by poets? Is anybody writing fiction too?

Yes, only from poets.

I, too, when I started writing, used verses. It was almost spontaneous.

I don’t make much distinction – I don’t want to – between poetry and fiction: for me the border is very fluid.

I am now sure that the urgency of writing comes from declaiming, therefore from the relationship with the ‘reader’ or with the listener.

I remember a recent performance at the Why Festival: the writing of strictly handwritten letters and without an addressee, on direct sale on a banquet: I gave 15 of them in one day. I need the audience.

Do you want to tell me that poetry is writing declined in every area?

For example one of your latest poems I would see as a voice over for a short…

Writing just for me is a very abstract thought!

Writing only for the public is also a limitation because only then I can be precise and because with an audience it’s easier to be clear: it’s to my detriment when I write for myself, I’m less clear.

Are you also so fluid in your reading?

Yes, even if to get different ideas I prefer the essays. For the theme of the apocalypse, I took inspiration from a text such as L’Apocalisse Culturale by Ernesto De Martino.

What are your books of affection, or who are the poets who have sometimes guided you?

In the last two years Carmelo Bene has guided me: I have read and re-read Our Lady of the Turks which has fascinated me a lot. Then, honestly, I couldn’t tell you any other now at the moment…

But you are an avid reader…

Yes, I read a lot.

Which are the secret or any less secret places where you read – in Naples and San Marco?

Here in Naples I read a lot at the Ventaglieri park (a small miracle of active citizenship in the rare public green on the western front of the Avvocata: a stubborn hill that climbs from Dante to Vomero, ed) or at home.

I really like reading aloud, it seems to make everything more present.

And do you also read aloud in the park?

It depends on the moments…

Are you convinced of the choice of your faculty? Does it help you with creative writing?

Very, certainly the more anthropological subjects (minus those of a more economic and statistical nature).

The Neapolitan indie poetic scene seems very alive (and so is the more established scene, that of the most consecrated and published poets), do you feel it alive too?

I met you at Valvola Microfono Aperto / Valve – Open Microphone, an off event that has now resumed circulation in the vibrant city evenings only in an itinerant format. There are other appointments as well…

I have had some occasions, such as Mossi di Seppia and other situations at the Teatro Popolare of the former OPG (another miracle of active citizenship that extends into a huge abandoned former psychiatric hospital in the same district as the Ventaglieri park hostings courses of all kinds and visual, performative and musical culture ed), there we hosted CASPAR, the organization of poetry slams in Campania.

There are many opportunities to meet up here and it was in that theater that I encountered a friend with whom I interact a lot.

Valvola also helped me a lot because here in Naples it was a continuous experience in which I ‘exposed’ myself thanks to a special closeness to the attending people.

How important is it to recite your poems in public?

In fact, the other day I was thinking about it while looking over various notes: when I write by hand they seem very fluid and very germinal. When I develop them to read, they have another form.

Your writing (we publish and translate two Francesco’s unpublished works – Apocalypse and Hermit – in our Poems section) is always a dialogue. Your verses are very direct but at the same time very poetic, very emotional. You create a I/you very sounding approach, a very sustained alchemy that is usually seasoned with a capitalized period that takes effect both when read and when declaimed. Is yours a theatrical influence? Is it a need you have to decant specific concepts in the eyes and ears of the reader?

It is a theatrical influence, when I reread it I myself want to identify from time to time with that you or that I.

I like to play a bit with the subject because often my streams of consciousness don’t necessarily lead anywhere but, properly excavated, even if they don’t have a real subject, they can still identify something that escapes.

Your fresh writing because you are young in age, among other things, struck me because it effectively, quickly and above all emotionally encompasses the multitude. It is as if you manage, in this mode of tight verses and change of subject, to create a kaleidoscope in which many people enter.

An extremely valuable strength of your verses.

I too should do like Bergonzoni: a ‘vow’ of vastness. I’d really like to include as much as possible. I sometimes struggle to select, I would like to say everything in a very short time.

One criticism I might make is that I don’t let things roll out, I try to concentrate as much as possible.

I, on the other hand, find that your verses have a very balanced development, very full in little. Your condensation is very helpful in let more feelings exploding in the reader/listener. Because it is fitting and pressing at the same time. Your use of speech is strong, even in prose. There you have more space, you don’t have the cage of verse, you always succeed in your ‘concise vastness’.

It’s true: when we do readings with friends, trying to fix something and discuss things, when I try to condense I instead add, as if there were a sort of inexhaustibility of things to say. I’ve recently been rediscovering the magic of the correspondence with no one The act of a written letter; you can condense really well a message and I like the fact that you don’t have a real recipient.

Ugo Foscolo had written a collection of letters (Letters to the Thousand Wise Men), he too thought so…

In ten years you will be 33: where do you see yourself?

I don’t know maybe in a city in Umbria region. Naples is too chaotic from this point of view, even if I see many possibilities here.

A book and a song that you have in mind or on the bedside table?

Franco Battiato’s Magic Shop

Jodorowsky’s Dance of Reality.

Editing, point-blank question: the readings help a lot and the comparison also with small groups of poets. But you: how much do you work on a verse before somehow delivering it to someone else’s mind?

Few times. I think much more than writing. The activity that takes me a lot of time is above all the mental pre-writing time: it is also a limit because it does not allow me to immediately fix ideas.

I almost have this phobia of writing and erasing. I have a hard time rearranging my verses by deleting and correcting them. I have a hard time even making collages.

Sharing is the most important thing you have learned so far from life, do you want to mention something else? Even frivolous, what do you take with you?

In the repetition, in the obsessive thoughts, in everything I constantly postpone and that comes back I see continuous inspirations, only then do I understand that what I postpone is a need.

Francesco Tardio’s portrait has been captured in Naples, Piazza del Gesù on June 2022 during the interview, by Diana Marrone

#slowwords translated in English and published two of his last unpublished poems; you will find them here

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