The gara poetica

“Terra di poesia”: it is with this expression that the Sardinians they themselves designate their island. Poetry is first of all a familiar art for them: in every village, every family, there are men or women who know verses by heart and are capable of composing them. But this poetry finds its celebration in the gara poetica (the poetic joust) which is offered to the Patron Saint of the village during festivals in his honor.

Gara poetica

Gara poetica

On this occasion, two or three professional poets are invited to perform on a platform to debate, for three hours, on themes drawn by lot such as: "Art and Nature" or "The Eye, Language and Main ”. These poet-improvisers sing eight rhymed endecasyllables (ottavas) to a melody specific to each person (traggiu), accompanied by a small choir (tenore) composed of three men modulating a consonant chord on a set of meaningless syllables ("Bim -bom ”,“ Birimbim-bom ”, etc.)

The gara poetica Sardinian is a speech ritual. In fact, it is held on a fixed date, time and place – in the village square, near the church and the Saint, on his feast day. It is a collective creation where the poets, the choir and the public interact; the latter, very knowledgeable, applauds, smiles or poutes, evaluating the poets like an informal jury; he anticipates the verses and is able to memorize stanzas or even entire passages of a joust to compare it to others which have preceded it.

Against this background of improvisation, everything is however rigorously codified: unfolding of the joust in three stages (exordium, themes and sung hagiography of the Saint), obligatory course of the arguments of the theme, but also of the verses of the stanza, behavior, postures and gestures of poets, etc.

By drawing lots for their theme, the poets must defend it and identify with it: they become Love, Hatred, Wealth or Poverty. So that what they give to see and hear to the people gathered in the square under the gaze of the saint, is the game of simulated destinies that chance has assigned them by lot, and that they must assume. time to park it.