Photographers Unknown, Victorious We Will Come Out
Non farmi ricordare i giorni che sono passati
se tu ancora tornerai a me come una volta
vittoriosi usciremo da questa lunga lotta con il tempo
ci attend forse maggiore felicità del passato
(la forza degli occhi il riconoscere in noi
che vivi siamo del nostro amore).
Victorious we will come out
Don’t make me remember the days that have passed
if you will come back to me as it once was
victorious we will get out of this long struggle with time
perhaps greater happiness than in the past awaits us
(the strength of the eyes, the recognition in us
that we live, we are of our love).
Mario Stefani, Vittoriosi Usciremo, Il Male di Vivere, 1968
Born in August of 1938 in Venice, Mario Stefani was an Italian poet and journalist. He graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Literature; his thesis examined the letters of sixteenth-century author and playwright Pietro Aretino, an influential figure in Venice’s art and politics. Stefani worked on Professor Neuro Bonifazi’s literary research team at the University of Urbino. He began a career as a journalist employed by the Venice newspaper “Il Gazzettino” and, later. became a contributor to the “Literary Political Observer”, “Arena”, and “Resto del Carlino”.
Mario Stefani’s poetry is mostly written in Italian. Stefani’s deceptively simple poems are characterized by a clarity of expression that bring forth his own experiences, often imbued with nostalgia. His two collections of Venetian-dialect poetry, written in the late 1960s, were composed of that era’s simple Venetian style without any linguistic experimentation. Prefaces to Stefani’s collections were written by such notables as novelist and essayist Aldo Palazzeschi, biologist and novelist Giuseppe Longo, and poets Giovanni Raboni and Andrea Zanzotto.
In 1960, Mario Stefani published his first collection of poetry “Desiderio della Vita (Desire for Life)”. In the course of his career, over twenty volumes of Stefani’s poetry were published. Included among these collections are the 1961 “Giorno Dopo Giorno (Day After Day)”, the 1968 “Come el Vento ne la Laguna (Like the Wind in the Lagoon)”, and “Il Male di Vivere (The Evil of Living)” published in 1968. Stefani’s “Elegie Veneziane (Venetian Elegies)”, published in 1971, won the first prize Bergamo Award for poetry.
Other notable poetry collections by Stefani include the 1974 “Poesie per un Ragazzo (Poems to a Boy)’, “In Debito con la Vita (In Debt to Life)” published in 1984, and “ Una Quieta Disperazione (A Quiet Despair)”, published posthumously in 2001. In 1981, Stefani’s “Nessun Altro Dio (No Other Gods)”, a collection of fifty-five poems, was translated into English by Anthony Reid, a translator and personal friend of Stefani, and published with annotations by illustrator Martin Pitts.
In addition to his poetry, Mario Stefani also published several short stories: the 1986 “At the Table with Margherita”, “Excellent Cakes and Vicious Virtues” in 1987, and the 1988 “Metamorphosis of a Dog and Other Tales”. In addition to the Bergamo Prize, Stefani was awarded the Prize of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and prizes at festivals in Milan, Gabicce, and Abano. American writer John Berendt devoted a chapter on the life of Mario Stefani, entitled “The Man Who Loved Others”, in his 2005 non-fiction book of Venice’s interesting inhabitants, “The City of Falling Angels”. In 2013, literary scholar Flavio Cogo published “Mario Stefani and Venice: Chronicles of a Great Love”, which examines Stefani’s love for Venice through his writings and his political and cultural engagements.
Mario Stefani became an openly gay in the 1970s. He worked for a period as an high school teacher of literature and was an active member of Italy’s Radical Party for decades. Stefani also hosted a popular unscripted television show. His poems were included in school text books and set to music in 1973 by composer Roberto Micconi for a performance at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music in Venice.
In the middle of February of 2001, graffiti featuring the quote “Loneliness is not being alone; it’s loving others to no avail. Mario Stefani” appeared on a wall by Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Three weeks later on the fourth of March, Mario Stefani committed suicide by hanging himself in his kitchen. His estate, valued at one million dollars, was per his request given to the local fruit vendor whose young daughter had inspired Stefani’s work.
In 2002, Stefani created an archive of his work which consists of sixty-eight hundred volumes from his personal library, articles related to his cultural work and twenty-six artworks including paintings and graphics. This archive is housed in the museum collection of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a cultural institution in Castello, Venice.