All Over is a collection of epic songs, of epinician odes for our day. The heroes praised are boxers, men the author identifies as the last able to truly astound, to induce awe. These epinician odes on Pindaric models are transformed in the making. What they sing about is not victory but defeat. The hero, the boxer, is deprived the possibility of attaining true “victory” through the gods’ obliging and favorable presence — a limitation that never pertained in antiquity. This is a fragile hero. An all-too human human. He is a “simple” boxer. Nothing but a man. The epinician odes, therefore, end up being direct, and matter-of-fact, in their style and content. They wind up as epigraphs, tragedies in verse form that narrate the real exploits of workday heroes, even if the resulting events are exceptional, moving us to weep, and to feel great admiration and compassion.
The reader here is Burt Young, and the fighter is Davide Buccioni. There’s a good interview with Tinti about his boxing poetry in Vol. 1 Brooklyn. Here’s an excerpt:
Do you feel that you need to evoke the pacing of a fight in a poem written about that fight? And if so, how do you go about that?
I know a lot of boxers, I have seen, I see, so much boxing that to me it is natural to bring back its rhythm, its music. Fist fighting, that terrible dance, on the other hand has a high poetic content. Because boxing is a space in which our repressed feelings, our fears and our identity anxieties all converge. Boxing resolves everything in the sense of death. It manages to do so because it is a primal display; a manifestation of an unrepeatable existential experience, a ‘true’ reality; the revelation of an internal world in which not only the body (with all its suffering) and the flesh are on the line, but also the intellect, the spirit and so-called ‘culture.’ It is a cruel spectacle made of pain and love, of the unpredictable and the serious, of boredom and great emotions.
When you appeared at the Queens Museum recently, your work was read by Burt Young, whose art also appears on the cover of All over. How did the two of you first meet?
We met in Rome. He was here making a film. We immediately became friends and immediately shared this project. He is a very intelligent and sensitive person. He went into my work without demands, perfectly understanding what I needed. We have great mutual respect and admiration. And he knows the world of boxing and boxers very well. Like me he knows that the boxer is a virus, a factor of destruction and living next to him means crying constantly. My poems are lamentations, they should be cried rather than read, as Burt does. Having completely internalized All over, he cries with absolutely no rhetoric and without any pre-arranged agreement.