Patrizio Ceccagnoli, a professor of Italian at the University of Kansas, has translated the poet Anne Carson‘s extraordinary interpretations of the Latin work of Roman poet Catullus. The twice-refracted language of the ancient poet is a hit with Italians, for whom classics like Catullus don’t come as introductions, but rather as something familiar dressed in new, contemporary garb. Poesia, the Italian literary magazine, published Ceccagnoli’s 16 translations of Carson’s Catullus poems, including the famous Catullus 101.
Most of the poems appeared in English in Carson’s Men in the Off Hours collection. Carson has been praised for her “amazing ability to combine the classical and the modern,” a talent that drew Ceccagnoli. Ceccagnoli recognized the chance here to use Catullus as a bridge over which to walk Anne Carson into Italy, where she’s not widely known or translated. It’s a bridge, given the grief common in the Carson’s and Catullus’s work, that might be considered another bridge of sighs.