On March, 21st 2020, the World Poetry Day, a tragic moment for Italy due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lerici Pea Golfo dei Poeti Association wanted to share a message of “communion” and hope through Poetry.
Poetry is a way to fight fear and isolation, and to comfort our soul in such a difficult time. In 1998, for the first time, the Lerici Pea Prize awarded the Italian poet Mario Luzi and gave him a bronze medal which Aberta Andreoli, a Milanese publisher and intellectual, had commissioned to the local artist Francesco Vaccarone two years before. Afterwards, the Prize was transferred to the LericiPea Association. It comes as no surprise that the Milanese publisher wanted Shelley’s verses “laughter of the moon in a fugitive wave” to be written on it.
The members of the Association (Adriana Beverini, Lucilla Del Santo, Piergino Scardigli, and Pia Spagiari) believe that the time has come for Lerici Pea, one of the oldest and most important Italian Poetry Prizes, to “pay off a debt” and to remind the world that the Gulf of Poets owes its fame to the English poets and writers who visited these lands and moved here.
Just to mention a few, Percy Bysshe Schelley chose Villa Magni (San Terenzo, Lerici) as his last earthly residence, and at the end of September 1822 Lord Byron stayed in Lerici as well: “The sea revived me instantly; and I ate the sailors’ cold fish, and drank a gallon of country wine”. In 1877, the writer Henry James came to Lerici, and in the same years the painter and sculptor Arnold Böcklin spent his holidays here. From September 1913 to June 1914 D.H. Lawrence and his partner Frieda rented Ettore Gambrosier’s pink villa (also known as “Villa Bijou”) in Fiascherino, Lerici. Here, Lawrence hosted Lascelles Abercrombie and the poets W. Wilson Gibson and Robert C. Trevelyan. In May 1933 also Virginia Woolf spent a few days in San Terenzo, Lerici, at the Miramare hotel, near Villa Magni: “Lerici is hot and blue. And it does the bay”. The writer and critic Percy Lubbock decided to move to Villa Scafari, between the bay of Fiascherino and Lerici; here, he hosted several men and women of letters, including the novelist E. M. Forster and his stepdaughter Iris Origo.
For this reason, in 2020 the LericiPea Prize has created a new section dedicated to Anglophone poetry and literature (criticism and non-fiction) – the Lerici Pea “Angloliguria” Prize, a tribute to Shelley, Byron and Lawrence. In 2018, the charming and graceful English Ambassador Jill Morris attended the award ceremony of the Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, and on that occasion she suggested that we homage these poets and the boundary with our territory.
Besides the literary aspects, this new section also wants to enhance these poets’ and writers’ sensitivity to Nature and animals, a topic that today is widely shared, but back then it was a prerogative of only chosen souls.
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead November 18th 1808.
In 1822 Percy Bessy Shelley lived and wrote in Lerici, and since then several Anglo-American writers –including the great Henry James (“Italian Hours”) and, in the 20th Century, the exiles David and Frieda Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway – had stopped in what the poet Sem Benelli would call “the Gulf of Poets”. After World War II, Percy Lubbock, Iris Origio and Charles Tomlinson – the spiritual brother of the great poet Paolo Bertolani from Lerici – fell in love with Lerici.
Finally, in the 21st century, with the “Lifetime Achievement” Award Section, the LericiPea Prize celebrates Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carol Ann Duffy (a British “poet laureate”) and the Irish Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney.
With this wealth of memories, characters and works, the LericiPea Poetry Prize inaugurates a new section, the “LericiPea Angloliguria Prize”, which, year after year, will award English-speaking writers who continue and renew the tradition of their several magnificent predecessors. They can be poets, but also essayists, storytellers and artists; its aim is to enhance the relationship between Liguria and international culture. Just think of the Ligurian Eugenio Montale, the most Anglophile of all the great Italian poets.
LericiPea “Angloliguria” Prize 2021 to William Wall
William Wall is one of the most popular Irish poets and storytellers, known for a concise lyrical sensibility and a resentful and ironic gaze on the society of our hard times (his works include “Via Antonio Gramsci” and “Ballata di Lampedusa”). He has also translated some Italian poets including Campana, Pasolini and Spaziani. Guest of the Bogliasco Foundation and of the International Poetry Festival of Genoa, he wrote a lot about Liguria, his second home – prose, verses, and also the novel in progress written only in Italian and titled “Ballata del letto vuoto” (“Ballad of the Empty Bed”). Given the emotional intelligence of his verses, as well as his passion for Ligurian nature and culture, William Wall is awarded with the LericiPea “Angloliguria” Prize 2021. He is the heir of a great tradition of Anglo-Saxon poets – from Shelley and Yeats to Lawrence and Tomlinson – who fell in love with Liguria and its Gulf.
Born in Cork, William Wall is the author of six novels, three volumes of short stories and five collections of poems. Wall was awarded with the Patrick Kavanagh Award in Ireland, the Virginia Faulkner Award and the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature in the United States. His works include Smugglers In the Underground Hug Trade, Ghost Estate, Grace’s Day, Suzy Suzy and the Booker Prize longlisted This is The Country.
Wall was a guest of the Bogliasco Foundation and of many Italian Festivals including the International Poetry Festival “Parole Spalancate” in Genoa, PordenoneLegge festival, and the James Joyce Summer School in Trieste. He writes as columnist and critic in many magazines and newspapers including the “Dublin Review of Books”. Since 2019, he is a reader of the “Bloomsday”, the celebration held every June 16th in the heart of Genoa. He lives in Cork and Camogli.
2020 – William Wall