Corrado Costa

by Maurizio Spatola

Last winter we had the twenty-fifth anniversary of Corrado Costa’s death. He had been born on 9 August 1929 at Mulino di Bazzano, in the fabulous farmhouse which, in the seventies, was to become the setting of the deeds of the poets of “Tam Tam”. That literary adventure, headed by Adriano Spatola and Giulia Niccolai, which has been defined as “the Poets’ Republic”, of which Corrado was an active member. He passed away on 9 February 1991, killed by a sudden heart attack while he was alone in his lawyer’s office at Reggio Emilia: one month exactly after the death, at the early age of forty eight, of a poetess from Bologna, Patrizia Vicinelli, who had been dear to him, as to us all.

Of the multifarious literary and artistic genius of Corrado Costa a lot, but perhaps not enough, has been told and written. Due to his ironic and defiant wit, he has been called “a mountebank of the soul” and “lunar funambulist of the word”. He was a thoroughbred stagecraft creature, very skilled in declaiming his own very recitable (and often very amusing) lines and prose texts, possessing in the highest degree the mastership of the surrealist techniques that he favoured and of the pataphysical moods that inspired him, a true lover of paradox. With the help of his facial mimicry, by his gestures and fluency of speech, enhanced probably also by his forensic profession, he knew how to capture irresistibly the attention of the public in small theatres, bookshops, art galleries or drawing rooms that he attended. An excellent draughtsman, he often enjoyed illustrating magazines or booklets by himself or by some of his friends.

Thanks to this elastic capacity of expression of his, Corrado Costa, maybe on the tide of that “total poetry” advocated and practised by his friend Adriano Spatola, enjoyed himself also by composing visual poems, not only by way of collage and drawings on paper, but sometimes also tridimensional ones. Sometimes working with painters and sculptors like Claudio Parmeggiani and William Xerra, in the wake of that Parasurrealism ( “cold revisited” bretonian surrealism) which he had contributed to theorize in the autumn of 1964 with Giorgio Celli, Ennio Scolari, Spatola, as per usual, and Gian Paolo Torricelli, the only one who is still alive today).

The range of cultural interests which have nurtured Corrado Costa is extremely wide, as it extends from the theatre to the cinema to literature to include also philosophy, sociology, music, visual and plastic arts, all fields in which he was active in the time left free for him by his professional activity as penal lawyer, engaged also in politics. He wrote many verse parodies on cinema themes, like the one on the film on Lenin’s life “which lasts 54 years and should at least be seen twice”). His charming Emilian accent made his recitals irresistibly endearing.

Di Versi in Versi, Galleria Mazzocchi, Parma 1987

Biobibliographic notice *

Corrado Costa was born at Mulino di Bazzano (near Parma) in 1929. He lived in Reggio Emilia where he carried out his professional activity as a lawyer. He was a member of “Group 63” and was a contributor, also as draughtsman and graphist, to the most important magazines of new vanguard, including “il verri", "Malebolge", "Quindici", "Tam Tam", "North", "Altri Termini", "Il Caffè", "Invisible City", "Abracadabra", "La Città di Riga", "Anterem", "Nuova Corrente", "Alfabeta". He was a poet and a prose writer and he was also a playwright. His work as a painter was in keeping with his literary activity and went through various phases including visual and sound poetry..

Of his “one man” exhibitions we may quote those held at ”Le Scimmie”, “Barcone sul Naviglio”, “Milan 1989”, “I Casalinghi”, “Galleria Avida Dollars”, “Milan 1990”, then “Studio Cavalieri”, Bologna, 1990. As co-founder of Parasurrealism in 1964 he published several books of essays, prose and verse. He published , in particular: Pseudobaudelaire poems (Scheiwiller, 1964); L’equivalente, novel, (Scheiwiller 1969); Il mignottauro, poems, with Emilio Villa (La Nuova foglio, 1970); Inferno provvisorio, essays (Feltrinelli 1971) ; Innesto, with William Xerra (Tecnostampa, Piacenza 1972); Le nostre posizioni poems (Geiger ,1971); Tre poemi…flippers, with William Xerra (Studio Sant’Andrea, Milan, 1972); Invisibile pittura, essays (Magma, 1973); Santa Giovanna demonomaniaca (Magma, 1973) Baruchello! Facciamo una buona volta il catalogo delle vocali with Gianfranco Baruchello (Exit, 1977), William Blake in Beulah, saggio visionario su un poeta a fumetti (Squilibri, 1977); Il poesia illustrato, with Silvio Cadelo and Lucietta Righetti (Reggio Emilia , 1979); The Complete Films, poems (Red Hill Press, Los Angeles-San Francisco, 1983); Il fiume, with five drawings by the author (Edizioni del Vicolo del Pavone, 1987). In 1995 Diabasis published the collection of poems Cose che sono parole che restano, edited by Aldo Tagliaferri. In 2008 “Le Lettere” published the collection The Complete Films, Poesia Prosa Performance, edited by Eugenio Gazzola with a multimedia anthology edited by Daniela Rossi.

* taken partly from the Mazzotta catalogue of the exhibition Le apparizioni dell’uomo invisibile
   which took place in 2009 at the Galleria San Ludovico in Parma, organized by Giorgio Gazzola