Pier Paolo Pasolini is better known as a filmmaker than he his a novelist and poet to most of the world but I “discovered” him first as a poet when I came upon a little book called “Roman Poems”. It was part of San Francisco’s City Lights Books “Pocket Poets Series”. (Anyone interested in some excellent poetry could do no wrong by seeking out the City Lights Pocket Poetry Anthology, which was published a couple of years ago. A great sampling of what they’d published over the years). Pasolini was an incredible writer. His poems and novels are often like his films and primarily focused on the changing Italian culture post-World War II. He wrote many of these poems in “dialect”--from his native Friuli, a region near the Slovenian border in northeast Italy---which wasn’t all that common at the time. He decried the increasing commercialism of the culture and didn’t seem to have much love for the whole “La Dolce Vita” esthetic that was sweeping Rome at the time of his writings. (He was active from the 1950s through 1970s). As a dedicated communist, it wasn’t hard to see why, I suppose. Many of his writings reflected this sentiment but he also wrote about his life, his childhood and tried to convey the same sense of realism in his writing that he did in his many films.
His novels and his poetry books aren’t that easy to come by. You’ll find it easier locating them on-line than you will at your local bookstore (or even the Mega Chains such as Barnes and Noble or Borders). They are all worth the effort, though. His writing is powerful, lyrical and most definitely real.
An open homosexual as well as a proud communist, he was despised by the clergy and the establishment, who often accused him of being a “pederast” (there may have been some truth in this). He was murdered in 1975, allegedly by a young male hustler he was trying to pick up. Some have another theory, involving a conspiracy, which was explored in a documentary film made of him a couple of years ago called “Pasolini: Un delitto Italiano”. Despite what one may think about his character or his attitudes, his books are well worth reading, especially those who are interested in post-war Italian literature.