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Home / News / Peter Riley on Franca Mancinelli’s « The Little Book of Passage » / The Fortnightly Review

Peter Riley on Franca Mancinelli’s « The Little Book of Passage » / The Fortnightly Review

The British poet Peter Riley has written a long essay in The Fortnightly Review on the prose poem, and the essay concludes with a passage about Franca Mancinelli’s The Little Book of Passage (Bitter Oleander Press):

« One new book which I particularly wanted to mention is Franca Mancinelli’s The Little Book of Passage which even in translation (by John Taylor) seems a perfect manifestation of the full prose-poem concept. This is because it enacts a constant tension between stasis and movement. I think that’s what prose-poems are for. It consists of a sequence of 33 prose-poems in four parts, each delineating an enigmatic and disconnected moment or event in the life of the speaker in relation to ”you” which is never entirely told. It is a kind of inner event, an event from which any reason for the pervasive sense of loss is omitted; “you” is present but lurks in the past or future, a forgotten or possible meeting. Yet through the whole sequence there is reiterated mention of being in a train compartment which is taking me to you or away from you. So every invocation of an evasive singular reality is cloaked in the prose sense of passage; the body of the other is physical and imaginary and the prose element enacts the repeated journey between the two, until at the end there is a suggestion of a consummation and/or a death, entirely real and entirely an event of the poem. Here the prose-poem format participates in the process of attenuation, so that the lyrical moments are stretched into the quotidian. »

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