A review of Bleedings by Gabriele Tinti

Reviewed by Gianfranco Pico Romagnoli 

Bleedings – Incipit Tragoedia
by Gabriele Tinti (Author), David Graham (Translator)
Contra Mundum Press
Paperback, June 2023, ISBN-13: 978-1940625607

Gabriele Tinti’s poetry resides on that difficult and tragic ridge where, for Heidegger, poetic language engages in a direct dialogue with philosophical thought, inquiring into being in time, being-toward-death, and that beyond time, that inherently inaccessible, unexperiencable thing. “Where beings have their origin, and also the destruction as necessary: because they pay each other punishment and atonement of injustice according to the order of time” (Anaximander). And what is this injustice if not the stubbornness of beings wanting to persist, insisting on being present? This is precisely where Tinti’s poetic thought resides: in the failure of the attempt to exist, in the desperate, vain, attempt to resist oblivion, death understood as the dissolution of organic matter into its inevitable return to the inorganic, but even more so in the dissolution of self-memory, in the dissolution of that principle of individuation which Friedrich Nietzsche speaks of in “The Birth of Tragedy.”

The epigram and the insertion of ancient epigraphs thus become messages for future memory, traces of a passage in the world that seeks to eternalize itself through the enduring hardness of stone. In the present, there is the failure, the defeat of every attempt to gather that voice that comes from the past: What do you think your name means / down there? It is a craving extinguished/ in the pallor of a stone face,/ a mea culpa recited to the earth. Here, time is not a linear sequence of past-present-future.

Here, time is not a linear sequence of past – future through the present. Time in Tinti’s poetry is cyclical: past-present-past, there is no future, there is no hope for a perspective of an ἔσχατος (éskatos). Without perspective, the present collapses into the past, unable to capture its cry, its lament, even being sucked into it. But this failure is already in the voice coming from the ancestors, as it itself was the illusory present of a preceding past. The past shakes the corpses,/ mixes the havens, directs the instincts./ It is voracious, burns with hunger,/ changes its voice, insinuates doubt./ It has come to find me, / to close my eyes, my bowels, my future./ It pushes at the gates of desire,/ draws my prints./ It walks fast, reflects/ the disaster, prepares the pallet. This is the origin of the wound, precisely in the will to persist, to continue desperately to exist, a Sisyphean labor, a fruitless attempt to oppose the dissolution of individual boundaries. So it’s better to sink, to allow oneself to be sucked into the abyss where it is possible to find the true source of pain: Sometimes just one blow is enough,/ a single blow to feel / the real source / of the pain.

Poetry is this ability to transcend, to cross through the masks that feed the comedy, living bulimically on illusions; it is looking beyond what appears, entering the shadow, listening to the unspeakable until the original silence while keeping the wound always open because we need to be there, close to the blade,/ at the mercy of pain, letting that blood, which is life, flow. Hence, bleeding as an opening, as the only possibility of existence. This “bleeding” is poetry itself. It bleeds, a poetry aware of mirages, stripped of any illusion of salvation, open to pain that allows itself to be sucked where darkness has no bottom and no voice. Speak to me again – you beg me -/ but my heart shines in the shadow./ My mouth is leaden/ heavy in its empty shelter,/ singing in silence. 

Bleedings — Incipit Tragoedia  (Contra Mundum Press, New York, 2023) is a series of poems Tinti composed in the spring of 2020. The epigraphic collections of the National Roman Museum, the Capitoline Museums, and the National Archæological Museum of Naples, as well as the most recent funerary inscriptions, were a spur for this work that aims to transfigure our fear of death, pain, and suffering.

About the reviewer: Gianfranco Pico Romagnoli is an Italian artist, sculptor, and scholar currently based in Senigallia.