Luciano Erba was born in Milan on 18 September 1922. He encountered the ‘Lombard Line’ of poetry early in the form of Vittorio Sereni, who was his teacher for the first year of high school. Though he has lived most of his life in Milan, there have been extended periods spent abroad: in Switzerland during the latter part of World War Two where he was interned, in post-war Paris where he taught and first met the poet Philippe Jaccottet, and in the USA. He studied French, graduating from the Catholic University of Milan in 1947.
He has researched in the literary history of the early sixteenth century, in nineteenth-century symbolism, and twentieth-century literature. Erba taught in schools and at various universities including Bari, Bologna, Udine, Verona, and the Catholic University of Milan. He made his literary debut with Linea K (1951) and the unique character of his poetry can already be found fully formed there. His numerous subsequent collections include Il male minore (1960), Il prato piùù verde (1977), Il nastro di Moebius (1980), L’ippopotamo (1989), L’ipotesi circensi (1995), and Nella terra di mezzo (2000) – all collected in Poesie 1951-2001 (2002).
He is known too for his translations of Blaise Cendrars, Pierre Reverdy, Henri Michaux, Francis Ponge, Thom Gunn, and other French and English poets. Erba has published a collection of stories, Françoise (1982), and, with Piero Chiara, edited an important anthology of new post-war Italian poets, Quarta generazione (1954). Most of Luciano Erba’s poetry is situated, in one way or another, at points of transit between indeterminate states. These can be geographical, historical, social, political, cultural, and metaphysical.
-Introduced by Peter Robinson, MPT Series 3, No. 1, Introductions