An Interview with Italo Ferrante

Italo Ferrante (he/him) earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick. He is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. To date, his work has been selected for publication by Train River, Nymphs & Thugs, Dreich, Queer Zine, Flash Journal, Reinvention, Poetry Salzburg, Impossible Archetype, Cardiff Review, Inflections Magazine, and Orchard Lea Press.

You can read his poem infinity minus in the January 2023 issue of Pinhole Poetry.

***Content Warning: The first answer of this interview mentions the poet’s own experience with disordered eating.***

Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context? 

infinity minus was written during a period of abstention from physical exercise. For the past year, I have been struggling with disordered eating. Back in August, I went to see a nutritionist who, quite alarmingly, discouraged me from pursuing any form of cardiovascular workout. She told me that my body would not be able to endure another regime of restrictive eating, let alone a potential famine. Besides, I have always been fascinated with maths, especially analysis and set theory. So I started to ponder the following questions: what happens when you delve into anorexia through the language of numbers? How do I voice my debilitation and frustration without turning to melodramatic diction? Can the body be written through calculation? 

Why was the poetic form the best fit for this particular piece of work?

I wanted a streamlined, compressed form to contrast with the emotionally heavy imagery.

Do you have a collection of poetry or even a single poem that acts as a touchstone? 

Too many, but Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds and Luke Kennard’s Notes on the Sonnets never expire in my head.

If you didn’t write poetry, how do you think you might access the same fulfillments that poetry offers in your life? 

I would probably have to make music. Bubblegum post-punk, most likely. Imagine Britney covering Love Will Tear Us Apart. 

How do you revise your work? 

I edit most of my work in the process of writing. Compostion and revision overlap.

What are you working on now? 

I am working on a poetry chapbook titled Planet Melancholia, which will hopefully leave my Google Drive soon.

How or where or with what does a poem begin? 

A poem begins with Word documents filled with lines from other poets, random trivia, and song lyrics. I call them ‘word banks’. They kickstart the writing process. Don’t worry, I don’t plagiarise: I only rewrite, revamp, and regurgitate.

Are there other art forms that inspire or inform your poetry? 

Yes, all the music included in the Spotify playlist “Sadmess”.

How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine? 

I don’t write daily, I write weekly. It is unreasonable to aim to write quality content every single day. But I try to read other people’s poetry and edit my own work whenever I can’t write.

What are you reading or watching or listening to lately that intrigues or inspires you? 

I have just started to tackle Monsieur Proust’s Recherche in the original French. I love how his prose is sprawling, mundane, and embodied like the most memorable odes by Pablo Neruda, which I am also revisiting. 

Have you ever received advice (or has there been something you’ve learned on your own) about writing or revising poems that has made you a better poet? What was it? 

Adverbs are not always your enemies.

Do you belong to a writer’s group? If not, where do you find poetry community and feedback? 

No, I don’t belong to any (luckily). That said, I need to thank my friends (and fellow writers) Daniel, Phoebe, and Helena who always come up with the most perceptive feedback.

In terms of poetic style or craft, is there a big question you are trying to find an answer for?

What are line breaks for? So far I have got: breath, hesitation, fracture, digestibility, messages from the dead.

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