Poetry from New Zealand

By: Francesco M

A videoconference with Marco Sonzogni

On September 16th, 2015, Marymount was able to organize, thanks to the organization of Ms. Iorio, a videoconference with award winning poet, translator and Professor at the Victoria University of Wellingotn in New Zealand, Dr. Marco Sonzogni. It is with an open heart that I admit that in my fourteen years at Marymount, now a senior, this videoconference has been the most inspiring and unique event that the school has held in all of my scholastic career, in academic, intellectual, literary and motivational terms.

Firstly, the event was extremely useful for our Italian and English IB literary courses as well as our Theory of Knowledge class. The visit consisted of Sonzogni discussing a classic poem of the great Italian poet Eugenio Montale, “Meriggiare Pallido e Assorto” from the collection “Ossi di Seppia”. Coincidently it is  one of the poems the Italian Literature students will have to study to prepare for their oral exams in February, it consist of a series of questions on the poem. Then, Sonzogni graciously analyzed the commentaries we Italian Literature students had prepared on one of the two “soon-to-be” published poems of the poet, “Accordi” and “Un Sabato del Vilaggio” again followed by comments and questions by the students. Lastly, Sonzogni also spoke about Seamus Heaney, an illustrious Irish poet, who has been officially translated into the Italian Language by Sonzogni himself. This was also very helpful for IB English Literature students, as Heaney will also be a poet whose poems we will have to present in the Oral Presentations in February. The conference was enlightening for both students and faculty members attending, as not only did Sonzogni explain two authors who are studied for the IB and give personal feedback on commentaries on his own poems to us (again helpful for Paper 1 of the IB exams in May), but did all of this with extreme charm, wit, and passion which enchanted everyone in the room. During the conference, the audience was spellbound by Sonzogni’s words and language and everyone present in the room could not but muse and tumble at every gentle word the poet uttered.

Dr. D’Ezio, present at the conference, enjoyed the experience and commented: “what was incredibly striking for me was his passion in discussing poetry and his strong ability to involve students in what he loves. I was particularly impressed by his ideas of poetry as a way to express and somehow explain one’s inner feelings. Also, I really appreciated his approach to poetry as an intimate and indeed humble tool to communicate and share such feelings with others. His poem “Accordi” truly embodies all this.”

Also Ms. Pantani had profound and wonderful remarks on Sonzongi’s vist: “L’autore ha infatti detto riguardo “Meriggiare pallido…” che “questa poesia più la si spiega più la si distrugge”. “Questo concetto mi è parso interessante perché fa emergere il paradosso di noi insegnanti e studenti, impegnati quasi quotidianamente con l’analisi del testo. Ci dobbiamo accanire su versi e passaggi, smembrarli come cavie di laboratorio, costretti a essere complici di un crimine, quello della stolida semplificazione di un testo che deve la sua bellezza e profondità proprio alla complessità.” (“The commented on the poem and said: “Meriggiare pallido…” that “the more you explain this poem, the more you destroy it.” This notion was extremely interesting as it made the paradox of us teachers and students, who give daily attention to the analysis of the text emerge. We drive ourselves to “rip apart” like lab mice verses and stanzas, becoming guilty of a crime, the simplification of the text which owns its beauty and depth to its entirety.”)

To conclude, this videoconference was truly an enlightening and educative experience, which enriched me personally, academically and culturally. I believe that Marymount should organize and promote more of these unique events which inspire and enhance both students and faculty’s experience in poetry. I would like to thank Marco Sonzogni, with all my heart, for graciously accepting to talk to us, Ms. Iorio for wonderfully organizing this stimulating event, and all the Marymount teachers who truly work for us to enrich our culture, experiences and intellectuality, making us truly well-rounded, passionate and critical thinkers as well as genuine human beings.

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