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Emanuel Carnevali

(December 4, 1897 - January 11, 1942 / Italy)

Biography of Emanuel Carnevali

Emanuel Carnevali poet

The best early Italian-American poetry deals with the excitement and disillusionment of life in this "new-found land." The immigrant Emanuel Carnevali (1897-1942) became the first Italian writer to make a significant, if short-lived, impact on modern American poetry. Supporting himself in Greenwich Village by shoveling snow and washing dishes, Carnevali enjoyed a special celebrity among populist Modernist poets like William Carlos Williams and Carl Sandburg. He published only one book, Tales of a Hurried Man (1925), but it established him in avant-garde circles.

Harriet Monroe, the founding editor of Poetry, eventually brought him out to Chicago to work on her magazine, but he was soon stricken with encephalitis. Impoverished, disillusioned, and disabled, he returned to his homeland where he wrote, "O Italy, O great boot, / don't kick me out again!" Poets like Carnevali, however, survive today mainly as historical figures—examples of the developing ethnic consciousness of Italian-American writers. They have at best modest claims to the attention of general readers of poetry.

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Queer Things

One nostril means latin,
The other means greek.

My legs will be
little steel rods,
which will continue
trotting after
I am dead.

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