Rocco Scotellaro never saw his poems published. In 1954, the year after his cruelly premature death from a heart attack at the age of thirty, E Fatto Giorno (Day Break), edited by his friend Carlo Levi, was published by Mondadori, and was awarded the Viareggio prize. He was the gifted son of a very poor family from Lucania, a mountainous and impoverished region of the Italian mezzogiorno. His parents made great sacrifices so that he could enrol at Rome University to study law, but the war and then the death of his father forced him to leave without completing his degree. He was of that young generation which saw the post-war years as a real opportunity to establish a just and egalitarian society, and to improve the material lives of the poor. At 23, he was elected as socialist mayor of his home town, Tricarico, and became actively engaged in the struggle for land reform. Inevitably, this brought him into conflict with the landowners, many of whom had welcomed his election believing that this son of a shoemaker could be easily manipulated. Victim of a political vendetta, he was imprisoned in Matera. The charges of corruption were spurious and he was acquitted after two months. He resigned as mayor and left for Portici, near Naples, where for some three years he studied at a research centre in agrarian economics. It was in Portici that he died.
– from Allen Prowle’s introduction in MPT 3/10, ‘The Big Green Issue’
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