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Occhio contro occhio

Poet Vincent Ferrini, 1913-2007

Joseph Sciorra (January 11, 2008)
Vincent Ferrini reciting "Forge Plant."

Poet Vincent Ferrini, 1913-2007



I learned today that poet Vincent Ferrini died at the age 94 on Christmas Eve.  I became familiar with Ferrini's poetry while researching Sicilian women's religious art In Gloucester, where he resided as the town's poet laureate.  I have been talking with his nephew Henry Ferrini about screening the documentary "Poem in Action: A Portrait of Vincent Ferrini" at the Calandra Institute in the fall.

Ferrini has been referred to as both "the last proletarian poet" and "a mystic wiseguy," joining the political, the social, the personal, and the cosmic in his verse. Raised by immigrant anarchists, he lost his job at a factory in Lynn making airplane parts during World War II due to his affiliation with the Communist Party.  He moved to Gloucester where he supported himself and his family as a frame maker. Along with his friend and poetic rival Charles Olson, Ferrini contributed to the rich artistic environment of the historic fishing town.  He often attended town meetings reciting verse written to address specific topics on the agenda.
The Unknown & all its tales
is the Divine Mind’s property
Egos & nations are fictions
at cross purposes
inspired words are
gates to the secret harvest
my left arm is Apollo
& my right Dionysios
Magdalena’s my left leg
Aphrodite my right
my body the Cosmos
& Breath the HOLY GHOST
I am tuned in before the
& after the Ending
from The Whole Song: Selected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2004) 

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