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Writer and Poet

Aldo Tambellini's poems at times shout out at the social and political injustices he sees perpetrated on the weak and disenfranchised, and at other times whisper with tenderness in soft colors, images and personal childhood memories.

The themes that run through his poetry range from the experiences of his early life growing up in Italy, and the horrors of the Second World War, to his life in New York City in the 1960s, his awareness of the influence mass media exerts over individuals; the sudden and untimely death of his love and partner Sarah which resulted in his being admitted to a mental institution; Aldo’s personal disenfranchisement as an Italian-American and a visual artist; and, finally, coming to terms with his own aging and frailty, the brevity of life, the pending final moment.

Aldo’s vision was influenced by his early schooling, which required memorizing parts of Dante’s Inferno. Aldo learned that the immortal writer’s dark, distressing and fatalistic vision mirrored the destruction of his world that he witnessed at the age of 13. Aldo survived the bombing of his neighborhood in World War II when 21 of his neighbors and friends died, and the subsequent Nazi occupation of the countryside where his family had taken refuge.

The reader can trace some influences from the very early Giuseppe Ungaretti, the 20th century Italian poet, whose simplicity of form expressed feelings and emotions and whose message is implied rather than specifically stated; also from the Italian Futurists, such as Giacomo Balla. But perhaps Aldo’s greatest literary influence comes from the hard, surrealistic writing of Garcia Lorca, whose portrayal of the difficult and cruel life in New York City paralleled his own experience.

Aldo’s poems scream in agony and confront a society which has total disregard for its people: a society that values only money and power. He challenges society, unmasking its illusions and asking it to divest itself of the comforts of life and to understand the difficulties of the invisible faces in our society. Glimpses into Aldo’s tormented life are projected before the reader as frames from an Italian neo-realism film, hardship smacking the reader with reality, without solutions, without escape, without resolve.

Reading Aldo’s writings, it becomes evident that he has had extensive involvement with mass media and its powerful effect on shaping public opinion. Many of his poems deal with the subject of television as a medium for the numbing of the brain of the masses. Like Fellini, Aldo parades reality through bizarre images delivering a clear message. The language is direct and it marches straight to the eyes, brain and soul of the reader.


August 1, 1995 

My early influences in poetry come from Dante’s Hell – Pinocchio – World War II Bombing of my neighborhood – Oppression under Italian Fascist & German occupation – a Roman poet, Gianni Cappelli, I met on the ship, the Marine Carp, when I came back to America after the war in 1946 –
The irony of being a foreigner in the land I was born in – my mother’s paranoia and then hospitalization in mental institution caused by the war – Lorca – the Futurists – Concrete Poetry – the Statue of Liberty – the New York Press calling every Italian, Mafia – Black Culture –

“we are trespassing going from unmarked streets stepping without a passport on foreign territory lost inside a fragmented void called America”

aldo tambellini
Photo: Gerard Malanga

    on epiphany day
    january 6 ’44*
    at exactly 1:00 p.m.
    we all looked at the sky
    knowing the american b29s
    were moving in our direction
    we did not move
    it was a numb fascination
    conditioned by months of false alarms
    the bombs dropped
    destroying the neighborhood
    that was mine
    in those details contained in childhood secrets
    I saw the earth hurled by force
    in chunks lifting to the sky
    friends & neighbors died
    others survived deformed
    I heard mothers calling
    familiar names in desperation
    at the first detonation
    I jumped off the bike
    face touching my street
    laying under shattered glass falling
    walls ripped open
that once
    is with the images on the cold screen
    that see war in their faces
that once
    it is not a TV show
    played for the ratings

* this date refers to the WWII bombing of Aldo’s neighborhood in Lucca, Italy which he witnessed. Aldo miraculously survived, twenty-one of his neighbors died, several were wounded, some with permanent deformities.