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Today’s post is brought to you by Robert Sanasi. Thanks, Robert!
I’ve always felt like an artist but I’ve never known – and probably I do not yet- what kind of an artist.
When I was a kid I got very easily fascinated by movie scenes, by lines of a song, by poems, by everything working on the most emotional side of life. And I can’t say that I’ve been writing all my life or that I started when I was five years old or stuff like that. It wasn’t me who chose writing, it was writing that at some point in my life – aged around 22 or 23 – got into my life as the easiest yet most powerful way of expressing myself, of taking out all that artistic sensitivity I kind of had within me since I was a kid. Therefore I started writing quite late compared to the average statistics about writers (I’m happy to have something in common with one of my favourite authors, Henry Miller, in these regards); I began with poems and a very raw and (now I can say) not yet mature prose work resembling a short novel, which was named “Jack of hearts”. It was handwritten and never typed on a computer, so I happen to smile at thinking it’s still on one of my shelves at home in Italy. After so many years I can’t even recognize my handwriting!
The spark came out by the time I read Kerouac’s “On The Road” for the first time. It was love at first sight. It opened my mind and my heart to a new kind of literature. I come from classical humanistic studies, so I “had” to read and study lots of Italian, Latin, and Ancient Greek literature, as well as the English Shakespeare, Marlowe, the Romanticism and so on. I generally liked it but it seemed so far from me. When I read Kerouac, I thought to myself: “Damn, this guy is writing something about me, something that is relating so close to me…” It actually triggered an action in me: travelling, exploring out of my comfort zone, writing everything down for my own satisfaction. It sounded new, fresh, like a new literature far from any “concept” or “intellectualistic culture”. It was something I felt real and accessable. I realized he had a way of “feeling” the world, things, people and the general life similar to mine. It all started from that, maybe.
Later on I had a sort of hiatus from writing when I moved to Dublin and I was too busy with life to represent it in a proper way. I believe it was a preparation time to everything that came later on: I got ready to write more seriously and professionally, meaning with an audience in my mind.
It might sound bizzarre and unconventional for a writer but I can say my strongest inspiration comes mostly from music – rock music, which I love! Even though I never managed to learn how to play an instrument, I’m always listening to music, so inspiration may come from a word, from a sound, from a vision, from a combination of them that can light up the lamp. This is an ongoing and extremely nice process that helps me a lot.
Lately I try to analyze my own writing and I realize that what I do, in my literary production, is to combine the spontaneous and visionary Beat literature with the rhythm and incisive language of rock. As if I was a “rock writer”. Kerouac and his friends had their own jazz, I have my own rock for help. It sounds fair according to the different times. I like to believe this, but in the arts there’s no big label working.
As quoted in my novel “Dublin Calling”, the main character Jack writes a letter to his old friend Tony saying he’s writing down everything from their own Dublin experiences and what is coming out looks like a mix of a mid-90’s novel and a rock song from 2000. This is definitely the background I come from. And I guess that summarizes my style well, at least in my first literary works.
To me literature – speaking about realistic narrative – must be strong, must shake off, be upbeat and brillliant, far from being boring or too architectonic. Like Cheever and Munro, I don’t care much about plots themselves. I focus on emotions and on the words; on the pleasure of using the right words that the reader will surely empathize with. I like it when I see the story runs by itself and the characters will end up somewhere or even nowhere and I feel this is right. I mostly want to bring out the emotions, empathy and always something original. I like it when everything comes out spontaneously and fast, that’s the best part. It means it’s working fine. Most of the time it’s something autobiographic, sometimes it’s something close to it. Many times it’s a combination of reality and imagination. Of actual life and likely one that often are two sides of the same coin, of the same person. Something like that. Everything takes shape independently. The important thing is to believe in what you are doing. I care a lot about authenticity.
So, getting back to the first point, I still don’t know what kind of an artist I am. I’m writing novels, poetry, song lyrics, and I am even currently working on a script. I reckon being an artist involves a particular way of seeing life differently from the way most people see it or – better saying- miss it. This way it’s not just about making art, it’s all about living life in an artistic way.
They say the artist lives twice. When he lives life like anybody else and when he reproduces it in his own art, own words, own music, own visions. Writing is part of this whole world and it’s easy to begin. What you basically need is a pen with some paper or a laptop. Sit down and start your own magical machine.
Robert Sanasi is an Italian poet, novelist and lyricist born in a small town of Southern Italy in 1981. He’s been living abroad for nine years.
After graduating in Communication Sciences at the University of Lecce in 2006, he started composing journalistic articles for local magazines and short poems. He then moved to Bologna for a year ‘to escape the alienation and monotony of the provincial life’. Immediately after that, he flew to Dublin, Ireland in search of work and new life experiences. There he worked at several American multinationals and shifted towards a more creative kind of writing, focusing on poems and song lyrics in English and Italian. The family drama connected to the car accident of his older brother only a few months after his departure, his coma, and his subsequent rehabilitation had a deep and strong impact on Robert’s life and writing. This is also described in his first literary novel ‘Dublin Calling’, to be published by Wallace Publishing in December 2016.
All his works have a strong imprint of autobiographical authenticity which clearly refer to the Beat Generation. He particularly loves American literature of the 1900s and authors such as Kerouac, H. Miller, Fante, Roth, Bukowski, Mcnirney, as well as European authors such Celine, Hamsun Buzzati, and Tondelli. He defines his style as “visionary-expressionistic realism” that focuses on the emotional side of life and literature. He has recently achieved second place in the Poetry section of the online Italian writing contest Word Selfie with his poem Angel of the Street, which has also been selected for an an international event and anthology of poetry called 100 Thousands poets for change.
Apart from the six years spent in Dublin, he has also lived for a time in Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Berlin, Bratislava, Krakow, Prague, and Warsaw. He defines himself as a ‘2.0 migrant urban writer’ and a representative of the current “Generation on the run”.