A Modern Bestiary: Ars Poetastrica

This book represented my debut as an author. I have been writing poetry from a young age, particularly formal poems such as sonnets and long poems in six-line stanzas. When I completed it – before becoming a publisher – I sent the manuscript of the book to J.G. Nichols, whose translations of Petrarch and Leopardi I greatly admired. He very generously agreed to translate my poems – and this was the start of a long friendship and professional relationship. He went on to translate a couple of dozen books for me at Hesperus and Alma – including his celebrated translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Remarkably for an unknown author, the book garnered many positive reviews – and admittance into the Long Poem Group. George Szirtes was complimentary all round: “Very fine poems, rather lovely edition. Good drawings too, and a nimble translation.” The Journal said: “Read about the Earthworm, the Dog, the Asshawk and the rest, and you will recognize people you know, writers you know, even yourself maybe.” Indeed.

“Gallenzi … turns out to be a lively, witty poet with an essential seriousness of purpose.” Acumen

“My one and only criticism is that it is too damned short.” Gilbert Adair

“Gallenzi’s allegorical animals spark some robust epigrams. The translations are very good … the rhymes are often excellent … and puns are well conveyed across the language barrier, which has seldom seemed more porous than in this book. In the long poem too, old chestnuts are nicely grilled if not quite roasted … How odd to be reminded of Edward Said, but impressive too: a skilled and charming exercise turns out to chime with the Zeitgeist, not antiquarian at all.” PN Review

A collection of sixteen sonnets about humans who are transformed into beasts (both real and imaginary), and vice versa, ‘A Modern Bestiary’ is a new interpretation of the old bestiary tradition, which has fascinated generations of readers and writers alike, from the Middle Ages through to the Modern Age.

A fierce invective against modern poetasters and bad poetry in general, ‘Ars Poetastrica’ does not pretend to be a collection of precepts on good writing, but rather an impassioned exhortation towards a new Humanism in poetry.

Available for purchase from the publisher’s website