At an Hour's Sleep-cover
A Bilingual edition (Italian/English) 256 pages

At an Hour’s Sleep from Here: Poems (2007-2019)

The Bitter Oleander Press, Fayetteville, New York 2019

Alongside new verse, this major volume collects Franca Mancinelli’s first two books, Mala kruna (2007) and Pasta madre (Mother Dough, 2013), which established her as a captiving new voice to which one listens attentively. “Poetry is our imprint”, she has stated, “the fossil trace of our passage on earth”. Drawing on concrete experience, Mancinelli’s poetry opens onto cosmic and spiritual perspectives encompassing the archaic and the contemporary, the origin that is within the present moment. (John Taylor, from the Introduction).

from Mala kruna (2007)

if we were feverish together
we’d be like two spoons
put back dry in the drawer.
Our feet to and fro like rags
to caress the floors

or we’d stay naked like nails
forgotten in the middle of the wall.


I read lying down, the book on my chest
is my third lung
opening, closing again.

Like an amphibian I was on the shore.


from Pasta madre [Mother Dough], 2013

a spoon in sleep, the body
gathers the night. Swarms buried
in our chests arise, spread
their wings. How many animals
migrate within us,
passing through our heart, halting
on the curve of a hip, among the branches
of the ribs, how many
would rather not be us,
not be ensnared
between our human contours.


a rifle shot and again
you breathe. Snout to the ground,
no blood shed.
Things watched out of the corner
of an eye collapsing
while the other one is already sunk,
and it all moves away. The trees
bend to one side, losing
their voices in every leaf
that learns from the birds
and for a few moments flies.


I’ve stopped holding up walls,
give myself over to the ruins

I’m starting up again, reduced
I return to what I am:
a lizard that halves itself
with death.


I’ll stitch up with simple kisses,
pour saliva into every joint,
be peeled and sweet to teeth.
Every morning I’ll pick you a fistful
of flowers from the cobblestones.

For you I’ll have evergreen needles
and bloom every winter to burn myself up.


From Out of Focus, Out of the Fire

with footsteps that would like to plant
seeds in a cadence
I’m going to give back to the leaves
the tree they have lost,
to the fallen feathers the animal.
Then I cross my arms
and my heart returns to its cage.

Mancinelli’s world comes to life in Heraclitean flux, never at rest in its ceaseless endeavour to bridge gaps. […]

Her bridge-building appears to echo a kabbalistic desire to restore the universe to its original perfection, but would the water running under those bridges then continue to flow as she might wish? Her poetry may be driven by profound themes, but its frequent lyrical beauty can be appreciated on its own terms.

(Mark Glanville, The Times Literary Supplement)


[…] much could be said about how within this slight frame so much is made to happen, how she will again and again present us with an intimate moment or act which is then effortlessly woven into a much more reverberant tableau. During the poem, or sometimes prior to it, acts of affection and desire are transformed intact into scenes of metamorphosis so delicately and justly that you hardly notice it happening.

(Peter Riley, The Fortnightlyreview)


In Franca Mancinelli’s writing nothing is ornamental, and everything comes from a deep wound. But the poetic speech, which began there, has progressively purified itself, been stripped of all dross, with rigor and firmness; it has moved towards a symbolic horizon. It is not a question of deciphering the symbol to reveal some hidden secret, but that of accepting the imagery of this poetry as a common way towards greater awareness and renewed hope. Everything is at once clear and elusive; everything is in motion.

(Fabio Pusterla, author of Days full of Caves and Tigers)


Reading the poetry of Franca Mancinelli one cannot help but recognize a kind of quiet urgency motivating her perpetual need to re-connect—this is writing as a vital act, as necessary as breathing. We all breathe as long as we are living; she seems determined to slip into the spaces between breaths and take us with her.

(Joseph Schreiber, roughghosts)