Concetta, poet and writer

Your life in a few lines

What a nice challenge … so where to start? I would say from my university years, that the previous ones were spent in the stagnant tranquility of the petty bourgeois province and I was just a little girl full of beautiful promises.

In fact, my human and spiritual training begins: I devour literature books, I follow film clubs, I adhere to the student occupation, I attend Officina 99 and the Tien’a ment squat clubs, I moshed at concerts … and in the meantime I passed exams, first at the faculty of Psychology, which then almost immediately I leave for that of Philosophy.

After the “roaring” years and the countless afternoons spent in the courtyard of the faculty in via Porta di Massa, with a degree in my pocket I decide to study journalism and communication. I go from one newspaper to another, I become a publicist, but it is only when I start working for Edizioni Intra Moenia as editor that I really start having fun. In those years between 2011 and 2014 I write my first books, then, in 2014, with my partner and my daughter, I decide to leave Naples. A new chapter begins, under a different sky, with new actors and different scenarios ..

Di Lama Affilata (about a sharp blade) is your latest book of poems but you have also written and edited books on fiction, information, guides and photographic books.

Your poetry is very rich, it almost echoes the song-poetry forms (for the rhythm and length, but you often invite musicians to collaborate with you for the readings).

Is this collection also making no exception?

Among all the other books, your favorite that may not coincide with the best-selling one …

I started “using” writing from a very young age to write down thoughts and feelings. I grew up in the company of my words and filled entire diaries, until I was offered the first work of historical research and the editing of some volumes of a beautiful series. From then on, writing became my working tool and I began to tackle various topics: from the aforementioned historical research to the historical artistic guides of my city, I then edited narrative texts, I wrote about art, following for years my partner’s professional life. Then there is the whole chapter of journalistic activity; I keep a beautiful memory of the years at Il Roma (a Naples newspaper). I dealt with news and wrote about the eastern suburbs. In those years I lived in Ponticelli and in certain “difficult” places journalism inevitably becomes militancy.

Anyway, poetry is the one I care about the most, the one I entrust my chaotic emotional universe to. Poetic writing is an indispensable tool for sublimating moods that sometimes put me a little in difficulty … Through poetry I can make peace with the nonsense of events and fully express the melancholy that characterizes me. Di Lama Affilata is a collection of poems released a few weeks ago and I’m very satisfied with the work done, but I’m already thinking about the next book.

The job I care about the most, however, is my first: “’O vascio. A brief history of the Neapolitan bassi (ground floor humble houses) ”, a fantastic editorial adventure faced together with friend Sergio Siano, an exceptional photographer and a great lover of the history of the city.

Another art living of yours, different and complementary, is acting (especially theater)…

Theater is my other great love, discovered by chance and for fun many years ago, when I took part in a performance of my partner Walter Picardi. We were in the seminal Spazio Libero theater managed by the unforgettable Vittorio Lucariello. A place where a good piece of underground theater was written, expressive freedom was experienced, but above all a place where I had a lot of fun. I spent months and months locked in there rehearsing shows, and I realized that in addition to having fun, theater gives me strong emotions. As with writing, when I perform in theater I seem to touch the living and fragile material of which life is made. A pleasure and a thrill that I cannot do without.

Naples is very hard and stingy but maybe it does occasionally allow to ‘lay down the blades’? In any case, you’re back there

The truth is: I didn’t want to leave this city. I just followed my partner who, yes, he couldn’t take it anymore. In the year we left Naples I was very ill and all the glitter of London was not enough to make me forget my “dirty and devilish” Partenope. The London years were tough, I missed everything about Naples, although the efficiency of the English capital pampered me a lot. But it was never enough for the buses to arrive on time or for the staff to be polite in the offices. Naples, with all its shortcomings, remains a city whose warmth and color is something I couldn’t do without. And now here I am, between chaos and inefficiency, angry and at the same time in love with this city, like a mother of a reckless son.

Can you describe the scene of both your ‘main’ arts, poetry and theater?

It seems quiet and in turmoil at the same time, net of the napalm of the pandemic

My relationship with writing has never had setbacks, and is gradually becoming more mature and aware. Precisely the pandemic and the consequent loss of a job that I didn’t like gave me the opportunity to understand that I must necessarily work with what I’m passionate about, winning the challenge of earning a living with the craft of writing. And the scene that is outlined is anything but quiet; I have ideas, projects, collaborations in the pipeline, I am in full loving union with my words.

The theater is a more complex thing and the scene, yes, is quiet for the moment. Leaving Naples years ago I interrupted a career as an actress that was giving me not a few satisfactions. Today, resuming it is not easy at all due to the pandemic and the limitations that persist and which have mainly affected the shows and culture. I intend to resume the interrupted path, for now I am training to regain confidence with the stage.

You and the city: rhythms, places …

Naples is a city that goes fast, not always in the best sense of the word though. I mean that the general mood, or rather the atmosphere in the alleys and squares, is always a little over the top, chaotic and confusing. Sometimes I seem to feel an inordinate desire to do and have fun, which I often consider nothing more than an inconclusive desire to “make noise”, more than a constructive goal of growth. On this last point, in fact, the city is very slow, alas!

Let’s say that this sparkling and light air, on the other hand, has helped me many times to overcome moments of personal stagnation. Just take a tour in the alleys and in the local markets and the breath of pure energy that invests you is enough to make you shake off any too mental constructions and to put everything back in the right perspective.

Then there is a Naples that projects me into a dreamy dimension and is the classic one of the sea. I like to walk alone because walking responds to a need for discovery, and it is not only the beautiful Caracciolo promenade, indeed, if I have to choose, I prefer the sea on the outskirts, one name above all: San Giovanni a Teduccio.

The neighborhood has a magnificent coastline, and not because it is pleasant, but because of the cursed poetry that exudes from the rocks, from the volcanic beach, from the wrecks of a long-dead industrial age, from the melancholy solitude in which it is immersed. A place that has stood still in time, authentic.

A book and a song with you right now?

I have recently finished the book of an author I did not know before: Chandra Livia Candiani. A text with a very evocative title, “This immense not knowing”. The book develops like a diary in which the writer annotates her thoughts, memories and revelations day by day. What an intimate pleasure and what an illumination to read those intimate notes to discover things that I had not noticed myself! Reflections and considerations that respond to a doubt, visions that explain, words that translate that feeling that I had not yet given a name to. This is what happened to me with Livia Candiani, a book that was given to me and which I therefore consider even more precious, since every discovery made is a double gift.

A song? Hu, there are many in this period. In each one sings a part of me: The same deep water as you by The Cure, This mess we’re in by the fantastic Pj Harvey and Thom Yorke, This is the wheeping song by Nick Cave, just to name a few. For me, listening to music is an immersive experience; I dedicate myself for days to a single singer or a band, I “impregnate” myself with one poetics at a time and then I move on.

A talent you want and one you feel yours?

Let’s start with what I have … definitely the ability to question myself, the critical and self-critical spirit, the ability to hear others and the things around me.

What I don’t have? Hmm … sometimes I lacked the courage to go all the way … in an ode by Pindar we read “Become what you are, having learned it”. Well, the path towards learning and self-knowledge involves me not a little and proceeds with relative comfort, it is the “becoming what one is” that I find most challenging and I do not always succeed. However, I believe that it is not just a personal limitation, it is rather the cage in which we are inevitably forced by society to make this task difficult, which I nevertheless consider essential. In fact, if you ask me what my goal is, I answer without hesitation: to become what I am!

What have you learned so far from life?

I will say this by quoting the good old Lucio Battisti (celebrated Italian sing-song writer): that “too often prudence is only the most stagnant wisdom”. And so much more.

We published two Concetta Celotto’s translated poems in our Poems section, don’t miss them!

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