Buttitta, Ignazio 1899-1997

views updated

BUTTITTA, Ignazio 1899-1997


Born September 19, 1899, in Bagheria, Sicily, Italy; died April 5, 1997, in Bagheria, Sicily, Italy; son of Pietro and Provvidenza Buttitta; married Angela Isaja, 1927.


Poet and writer. Worked in father's grocery store; La trazzera, cofounder, 1927. Military service: Served in military during World War I.


Carducci Prize, for La peddi nova; Viareggio Prize, for Lo faccio il poeta.


Sintimintali (title means "Sentimental"), Sabio (Palermo, Italy), 1923.

Marabedda, La Trazzere (Palermo, Italy), 1928.

Lu pani si chiama pani (title means "The Bread Is Called Bread"), Edizioni di Cultura Sociale (Rome, Italy), 1954.

Lamenta pi la morti di Turiddu Carnivali, Edizioni Arti Grafiche (Palermo, Italy), 1956.

La peddi nova, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1963.

Lu trenu di lu suli, il tren del sole; storie, canti di protesta, can canzoni in dialetto siciliano con traduzione a fronte, Edizioni Avanti! (Milan, Italy), 1963.

La Paglia Bruciata: racconti in versi, preface by Robert Foversi, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1968.

Io faccio il poeta (title means "I Am a Poet"), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1972.

Il cortile degli Aragnesi, Gianotta (Catania, Italy), 1974.

Il poeta in piazza, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1974.

Prime e nuovissime, Gruppo editoriale Forma (Turin, Italy), 1983.

Pietre nere, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1983.

(With Valentino Santagati and Cristiano Vavala) Lu pisu di lu duluri: undici canti sulla storia del Meridione e due poesie recitate du Ignazio Buttitta, Qualecultura (Vibo Valentia, Italy), 1993.

La vera storia di Salvatore Giuliano (title means "The True Story of Salvatore Giuliano"), Sellerio (Palermo, Italy), 1997.

La mia vita vorrei scriverla cantando, edited by Emanuele and Ignazio E. Buttitta, Sellerio (Palermo, Italy), 1999.

Il filo dell'aquilone: saggi su Ignazio Buttitta, Nuova (Palermo, Italy), 2000.

Contributor to The Hidden Italy: A Bilingual Edition of Italian Dialect Poetry,, edited and translated by Hermann W. Haller, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1986; works have been published in French, Russian, and Greek.


Ignazio Buttitta was an Italian poet who wrote in the Sicilian dialect. According to a Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor, he wrote about "a Sicilian world molded by Sicilian language and rhythms; his best poetry, no matter how attached to regionalism in content and expression—or perhaps because of it—generates a particularly seductive music."

Sent away shortly after birth to live with his wet nurse's family, Buttitta was deeply affected by this early loss, and his mother appears repeatedly in all of his poetry collections. His experience during World War I also traumatized him and he continued to write about his experiences during the war for several decades. After the war, he wrote for a newspaper in Bagheria and developed an interest in socialism and the suffering of the working class. He gave speeches against war and in protest against his town's taxes; he was arrested for demonstrating and was held for eleven days, but the taxes were eliminated. During this period, he published poems in the anarchist journals Il Vespor Anarchico and Fede!, both published in Rome. Because of their anarchist and anti-Fascist content, both magazines were eventually suppressed by the government.

Buttitta's first collection of poetry, Sintimintali, or "Sentimental," was published in 1923. The poems show his concern for the poor and working class, as well as his feelings about love. In 1927, he married; he also cofounded La trazzera, a magazine of Sicilian writers. The magazine was abolished by the government within a year because they did not approve of regional writing. Buttitta continued to write poetry, often in the Sicilian dialect and expressing anti-Fascist sentiments. His poems were clandestinely distributed.

In 1943, Buttitta became an anti-Fascist partisan. He was arrested twice during World War II. After the war, he moved his family to Milan, but moved back to Bagheria in 1950, leaving home only for reading tours. The poems in Lu pani si chiama pani, which means "The Bread Is Called Bread," emphasize the pain and the oppression of workers. A Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor wrote that this collection's strong point lies in "the violence of its lines, in the compelling strength of its language, and in the restlessness of its harmony. It is a beauty best perceived not in reading but in listening."

In his collection La peddi nova, Buttitta's poetry is more thoughtful and reflective, and he views the larger world situation rather than the plight of local workers. The poems in Io faccio il poeta, which means "I Am a Poet," incorporate simpler language and more vivid imagery. According to the Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor, Buttitta's lasting legacy is his work as "the bard of collective unconscious of laborers everywhere—not just Sicilian laborers" and their "struggle for survival and well-being."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 114: Twentieth-Century Italian Poets, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Belfagor, Volume 31, 1976, Massimo Grillandi, "Ritratti critici di contemporanei," pp. 201-215.

Booklist, October 15, 1998, Sylvia S. Goldberg, review of La vera storia di Salvatore Giuliano, p. 408.


Dieli Genealogy,http://www.dieli.net/ (June 7, 2006), "Sicilian Poetry: Ignazio Buttitta."*

About this article

Buttitta, Ignazio 1899-1997

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article