Riflessi DiVersi (a pun on ‘Reflections in Verse’ and ‘Diverse Reflections’) is an annual poetry festival held in Umbria – specifically, in the provincial capital Perugia and the nearby town of Magione. The festival takes place in early autumn, and is now in its eighth year. The 2013 festival ran from 25th to 28th September inclusive, and included two public readings, visits to two schools and a reading for 200-plus pupils in the Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia. The poets were Pat Boran and myself (Ciaran O’Driscoll) from Ireland, and Maria Rosaria Luzi and Antonio Carlo Ponti from Umbria. The translators were Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Italian to English) and Rita Castigli (English to Italian). Music was provided by the violin-cellist Andrea Rellini. The director of the festival is Fernando Trilli, founder with the late Paul Cahill of its organizing body, Immagini d’Irlanda in Umbria. The reading in Magione on 26th September was honoured by the presence of the new Irish Ambassador to Italy, Mr Bobby McDonagh, who said that his attendance at Riflessi DiVersi was his first ambassadorial visit outside of Rome.
The 2013 festival marks the beginning of a collaboration between Riflessi DiVersi and Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival, a linking which involves, among other things, an exchange of poets on a yearly basis.
As one of the participants this year, I was hugely impressed by the warmth of the atmosphere and the rapport between all participants, making the twinning of Riflessi and Cuisle entirely appropriate, as our Limerick poetry festival has always aimed to be a friendly and unpretentious occasion.
I was particularly impressed by the secondary school students in the Palazzo dei Priori who braved coming up to the podium from among their 200 colleagues to ask questions and express their views on poetry, and also by those who approached each poet individually afterwards to say how happy they were to experience living poets face to face, and how the session had opened their minds to an entirely new dimension. The enthusiasm of these young people who came forward to talk to us after the reading will remain long in my mind.
A view over Perugia from the top of the Torre del Cassero di Porta Sant'Angelo, where a public reading took place on Friday evening, 27th September.
Irish poet Pat Boran chats with my son Conor before the Friday evening reading.
During my own reading at the Torre del Cassero, Friday evening. To my left is my translator, Rita Castigli.
My thanks to the Ireland Literature Exchange for their financial support.
Photographs by Margaret Farrelly.