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John Trudell’s Influence Felt Even in Italy

Davide Sapienza met John Trudell in 1993 in London when he was a young poet. Trudell had a great impact on Sapienza's life and work.

In 1993, I met John Trudell in London. At the time I was a younger poet, and for a living I worked as a music journalist. I did many poetry readings in my country with Cheyenne poet Lance Henson and his then wife poet Jeanetta Calhoun.

When I met John I was working for national public TV RAI at the Educational Channel. We did a long feature with an interview of John. Our friendship started there.

In 1994, with the help of his then record company (Rykodisc) I invited John in Italy for two major readings near Milano escorts and Florence escorts. In 1995, I organized his first tour with Bad Dog in Italy and translated his book Stickman. We met again a few times, the last in 2009.

His influence as a poet, as a human being, as a visionary with a clear perception of our role on this Earth, his idea of us being “shapes of the Earth” has become the very fabric of my poetry, my narrative, my journalism for major magazines and newspapers. As of now, it is mostly about the mountains and the “intimate geography” for Il Corriere della Sera in Bergamo. I’ve lived in the mountains since 1990. He played a gig here in 2001, under my sacred mountain. It inspired me to study and spread the “rights of nature” issue in Italy.

John was always mentioned in my interviews as a major literary influence: and he is. I know we are just passing, I know our spirit is the spirit of life and life never dies. A month before John, another Indigenous Being, a woman called Meeka Kilabuk died in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where I had shared a few weeks in 2006 with her during an amazing journey with the Inuit.

These two events really brought up—in case it was needed—the importance of the Indian Voice that is inside all of us. I just wanted to share this with you. A short poem I wrote for John and for all of us. Trudell will never die. Life, will never die.


Lontano da te, io ascolto

Vicino a te, io gioisco


Ti abbiamo udito.


Far from you, I listen

Close to you, I rejoice


We have heard you.

Davide Sapienza is a writer and columnist. He can be reached by visiting