The original Italian version of this text is published in the first issue of Polisemie (pp. 1-2)
Polisemie: rivista di poesia iper-contemporanea was founded by young scholars and students of the Universities of Rome Sapienza, Siena, Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna and Warwick, with the aim of analysing contemporary poetry in Italy and abroad. In starting this journal, we were inspired by the shared desire to understand today’s poetic representation, which – at a first approach – may seem inevitably chaotic and too difficult to classify. Our aim in the long term is to trace the outlines of today’s poetry as a literary phenomenon, in order to inscribe it in a methodical (and yet temporary and partial) system.
Polisemie approaches both the study of the main authors of the 21st century canon, as it is developing, and that of poets and texts still virtually unknown: our purpose is to exploit works written by both established and emerging poets as material for academic research. Modern science has to describe and comprehend complex phenomena: this also includes literary sciences, and today’s poetry is no exception. Although literary studies are mostly seen as contributing building blocks to a history of literature, this does not mean that its perspective should be an historical one, and exclusively refer to a past literary production. Polisemie uses a practical field-based approach as the only effective method to analyse the living organism that is today’s poetry, whose research interest lies precisely in its vitality and dynamism. In a time when the value of poetry is more underestimated than ever before, the outlined scientific approach may represent a significant step towards establishing, on the one hand, the value of poetic writing and, on the other, the ability of literary research to deal with today’s reality and to have an impact on contemporary society.
Scholars of ancient literature may compensate the unattainable desire of questioning the author they are studying (who is often anonymous, little-known and in any case inevitably dead) by consulting extensive bibliographies. In doing so, they do not omit any source that could suggest even the slightest clue about the poets or their work. On the contrary, literary research based on the present offers opposite conditions: in the most fortunate cases we have only explorative bibliographies to guide us, but most of the time we have no bibliography at all. Poets, on the other hand, are alive and can answer our questions. Therefore, a dialogue with them becomes the first useful source, other than the text, to orient the research.
For this purpose, whenever possible, each journal’s article is accompanied by an interview that should be considered as giving an additional value to the scientific contribution. In fact, although the object of the study should be sterile and detached from the observer whom inevitably influences it, literary criticism risks to omit fundamental elements and to miss the opportunity to achieve important results when it chooses to ignore some sources even before having consulted them. Pretending that the text does not have an author means renouncing to the literary critic’s competence in discerning the author from the text. As “persons of interest”, authors are crucial witnesses who cannot be ignored and, directly or indirectly, they play a key role in developing a critical interpretation. This aspect may seem a commonplace, and yet we invite our readers to recognise its methodological innovation, which is indeed crucial when applied to an investigation based on unpublished material. This original material risks misinterpretation if analysed according to external categories that are not applicable to it. Moreover, recorded interviews allow the involvement of a great number of readers and they contribute to a virtuous circle of reading and comprehension.
This journal represents the milestone of Polisemie’s project. Alongside it, Polisemie puts its efforts into the organization of several events dedicated to contemporary poetry, in an attempt to build a bridge between academic writing and an increasing number of interested readers. Since 2019, Polisemie has organized a series of seminars with poets and scholars at the University of Rome Sapienza, where the first Festival of hyper-contemporary poetry took place on the 24th of May 2019. Sapienza will also host the International Conference TwentyTwenty: Interpreting 21st Century Poetry.