“The Ghouta chemical attack occurred in Ghouta, Syria during the Syrian civil war, in the early hours of 21 August 2013. Two opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin. Estimates of the death toll range from at least 281 people to 1,729.”
damascus, august 21, 2013 – sarin over ghūta
3 Questions for Beppe
What was your process for creating this work?
It is a fact that for all of my visual poems the text comes first. This particular poem belongs to a series that deals with real events, and via photoshop it has been superimposed on a canvas painted with acrylics containing images I collected from various newspapers and magazines and then collaged on the canvas. Next I applied a few filters to give the composition the color effect that I believe better resonated with the poem’s images. The image was finally saved as a jpeg and printed on metal.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
I grew up studying the Italian neo-avant-garde’s visual poetry and I had the fortune to meet several artists of that period (Adriano Spatola, Giovanni Fontana, etc.). I would say this piece is in part an homage to those artists, and in part a way to re-activate the political soul of their visual pieces.
What is the significance of this work to you?
The idea was to visualize and, at the same time, condemn the horrific effects caused by nerve gas or any other chemical weapons. Fundamentally, it is a poem that calls for peace and condemns any war, past or present.
Born in Parma, Beppe Cavatorta lives in Tucson and teaches in the French and Italian Department at the University of Arizona. He holds an MA from the University of Virginia, and a PhD from UCLA. He has authored or edited several articles and volumes on poetics and his poetry, mostly in Italian, has been collected in 2 volumes both published in 2020: La stanza sgombra [The Emptied Stanza. Massa (Italy): Transeuropa] and Istantanee di un amor de lonh [Snapshots of a Love from Afar. Pordenone (Italy): Samuele Editore]. Some of his English poems have appeared in Bluing the Blade (Tempered Runes Press), The Closed Eye Open, VIA – Voices in Italian Americana, and forthcoming in Ovunque siamo.