Overlooked No More: Alda Merini, poet who wrote about life’s joys and struggles

Merini’s memory began to fail, possibly from the electroconvulsive therapy she had received, and her three youngest daughters were sent away to be raised by others.

In 1978, when the Italian government ordered the asylums closed, Merini returned home to Carniti. After his death in 1983, she reconnected with old friends, including Corti and the poetess Michèle Pierri, 30 years her senior, with whom she began an intense relationship.

In 1984 Merini and Pierri got married and moved to Taranto, a coastal town in southern Italy. That year, with the support of Corti and the publishing house Scheiwiller Libri, Merini produced “The Holy Land”, a collection of poetry which, with its raw and witty reflections on life in a mental institution, is widely considered his masterpiece.

As her second husband’s health declined in the late 1980s, Merini again struggled with his mental state. In 1988, she was admitted to the psychiatric wing of the Taranto hospital. Isolated and distressed, she turns to Bignotti, who helps her move to Milan shortly before Pierri’s death.

There, struggling financially and emotionally, she leaned on a group of friends. Scheiwiller Libri paid his rent; Bignotti also helped her financially. Corti and the poet Giovanni Raboni guided her writing into new collections of poetry, which led to her rediscovery.

Susan Stewart, a professor of English literature at Princeton University and author of “Love Lessons,” a collection of poems by Merini translated into English, said in an email that Merini wrote “uninhibited from her inner life, and she wasn’t interested.” meet reader expectations.

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