Small Talk

by Raffaello Baldini

translated by Adria Bernardi

Cover art “La solitudine del venditore di pallone” © 1968 by Guilio Turci






 "a spokenness that barely floats above the continuum of the prose, a monologal voice in which what is at stake is no longer the I of the writer but of each and every component of his own community."
- Dante Isella

"Each  translation manages to create a true  ‘character’– a persona through which we can hear the living sound of this bustling, crowded, factually packed, local life. In this, (Bernardi) performs with great effect the true ‘bringing-over’ task of the translator."
- Geoffry Brock


Raffaello Baldini was born in 1924 in Santarcangelo di Romagna and lived in Milan from 1955 until 2005.  His collections of poetry, all written in the Romagnolo dialect, include E’ solitèri (1976), La nàiva (1982) Furistir (1988); Ad Nòta (1995), La nàiva, Furistir, Ciacri (2000) and Intercity (2003). Furistir was awarded the 1988 Viareggio Prize, the first time the prize for a work written in dialect.  Baldini wrote three theatrical monologues: Carta canta, Zitti tutti! and In fondo a destra.

Guilio Turci: La solitudine del venditore di pallone 1968

Gradiva Publications


from Small Talk

The Storm

There was a killer sirocco.
Maria’s cat rolled around
in the tiny carnations, she sensed the weather.
Toward Verucchio the clouds had started to be lit up again,
at the sea coast you could see cumulus clouds
the color of ash, the air above the road
was still and clear as a piece of glass.

Between Verucchio and Spinalbeto,
the clouds were almost pink,
from the coast they were swirling bigger,
it had already come up above San Vito,
black as ink.
Then from the direction of Milécch and the old station
a great dust storm rose up,
on the piazza you could hear windows banging,
someone yelled,
people hugged the walls,
holding down their hats,
Natalina folded up the chairs,
Michele turned the crank and took down the awning,
the canaries in the cage went silent.
Then the whole piazza lit up
with a dry gunshot.
The women made the sign of the cross.
There was a great commotion outside
and the mare that belonged to Fin
went running by, terrified, with the cart still attached.
She came up from the Mulini, she passed under
the Arch, passed in front of the shop,
she got as far as the Big Curve and was out of sight.

The wind flipped three or four bicycles,
the first drops splattered on pavement,
it was like the end of the world,
then it just stopped, but Fin’s mare kept going,
she got as far as San Martino,
at which point she collapsed
right in front of the barber’s window.

– translated by Adria Bernardi
by Raffaello Baldini
from Small Talk


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