The ‘planting’ of Richard Berengarten’s chant-poem TREE in Margutte, together with translations into other languages, marks the beginning of an ambitious poetry publishing project that has strong ecological relevance and resonances. This roots potentially wide-reaching international prospects and perspectives in a ground that is necessarily quiet, modest, and intimate. For just as trees are always planted in the soil, so poetry is always first generated and grown in the particular and the local.
The inauguration of TREE has been timed to occur with the Festa degli alberi (Festival of Trees) on October 1st, 2017, in the town of Mondovì, in the region of Piedmont, North Italy. For a complete report of the festival, in Italian, see here.
This popular cultural event in Mondovì has a rich and interesting set of precedents.
The first historically recorded European tree festival took place in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594. The modern international tree-planting tradition can be traced back definitely to American influences. In spring 1872, in Nebraska, J. Sterling Morton founded ‘Arbor Day’. In 1883, Birdsley Northrop from Connecticut globalised the event, when he visited Japan to present his Arbor Day ideas there. In the same year, the American Forestry Commission made Northrop their chairman, to campaign for a nationwide Arbor Day; and so his movement began to spread internationally.[i]
In Italy, the first Festa degli alberi took place in Rome on 21 November 1899, thanks to the efforts of the then-Minister of Public Education, Guido Baccelli. As for the history of the event in Mondovì itself, the first Festa degli alberi was held on 11 November 1902 in the main square (Piazza Maggiore), when two trees were planted beside the monument to Emilio Bertone di Sambuy. The ceremony was presided over by Umberto Cordero di Montezemolo, the then-president of the Comizio Agrario di Mondovì (Monregalese Agrarian Society), which was founded in 1867 (and is still active today).
So the 2017 Festa degli alberi in Mondovì marks the 150th anniversary of the Comizio Agrario di Mondovì. We are glad to be part of this celebration by adding a growing international literary dimension to a meaningful local event.
Many articles in Italian about the Comizio Agrario di Mondovì are in Margutte (see http://www.margutte.com/?s=Comizio). A comprehensive history of the Festival of Trees in Mondovì, in Italian, can be found here: Il Comizio Agrario di Mondovì e la Festa degli alberi
The Albero Project (Richard Berengarten’s Introduction)
A Forest of Trees (versions in different languages)
Concerning “Tree”: Twelve Propositions
A Dendrology: Twelve Propositions
“Tree” by Richard Berengarten (an essay by Stefano Maria Casella)
For more articles on the Festival of Trees, click on the tag.