A Beautiful Expression of the Imagination at Ponte a Serraglio

Yesterday evening’s reading, as part of Bagni di Lucca’s continuing Arts Festival, at the camera oscura by Mara Mucci of her poems, with English translations by Norma Jean Bishop and Francis Pettitt, was very well attended by a mixed audience as regards their first language, their age, their background and their gender.


It was a truly inclusive evening such as we all wish every event in our Bagni di Lucca arts festival should be. Language, which often divides people, united them here thanks, first of all, to the wonderful poems that Mara writes which, pace T .S. Eliot could be understood as soon as they were communicated.

What was so great was that the audience consisted of local people, people that had come from far-away countries, people who were painters, sculptors, factory workers, technicians, pensioners, housewives. Indeed, every section of the community of Bagni di Lucca was represented giving the lie to some voices who think that such events in some mysterious way often divide the town. This is simply not true!

Mara’s words speak to the heart and the editor of Grapevine and me worked hard to produce translations that reflected as truthfully as possible the original sentiments expressed.

If you buy next month’s “Grapevine” you’ll see the editor’s translation of one of Mara’s poems included in it.

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I first met Mara on International Women’s day earlier this year at Ponte’s Casinò (see my post at  https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/international-women-at-bagni-di-lucca/) and was impressed by the honesty and beauty of her writing. She described herself as a feminist who writes poems.

I added, at the end of a truly captivating evening: “Mara you don’t just write poems. You are a poet.”

Everyone concurred with this sentiment. An encore was asked for and duly given.

Only this morning I received this note from Mara who said (I translate)


I would like to thank you much for the time you have taken in translating my poems and congratulations for your great capacity as a presenter.

You’ve been able to gift a very pleasant evening to everyone present and to me a great emotion which will remain among my best memories


What more does one need at festival? One kind phrase of appreciation is worth all the money in the world. As it is said “there’s no money in poetry but there’s no poetry in money”.

Radix malorum cupiditas est. Let us spend more time giving to each other the truly valuable things in life, warmth, cooperation, love, ideas, dialogue, hope now and for the future. These are the energy cells on which the Bagni di Lucca festival runs and will continue to run.

Incidentally, don’t forget tonight’s event on the theme of water starting at 18-00 (6.00 pm for you, Captain Mainwaring!). It’s yet another unmissable event in the brilliant festival which will run until August 10th.


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