This site is called “Forest” because
of Norman MacAfee’s opera, The Death of the Forest, set to
music he has chosen by Charles Ives. The executive artistic director
of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA, Donald
T. Sanders, has written, “I think that The Death of the Forest
can become an American cultural treasure produced by opera companies
the world over.” Click here to see a drawing by Norman MacAfee for
cover of the libretto of The Death of the Forest.
Norman MacAfee is a writer, translator, visual artist and
editor, who lives in Greenwich Village with
Miguel Cervantes Cervantes, a plant biochemist. To read an
interview about Norman MacAfee published in August 2006
The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now, Norman
MacAfee outlines a vision for America inspired by the 1968
presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. You may buy the book
His translation (with Lee Fahnestock) of Victor Hugo’s
Les Misérables is the only complete modern edition in English.
Since its publication by Signet in 1988, it has sold more than
800,000 copies. The MacAfee-Fahnestock translation is the official
tie-in edition for what has been called “the world’s most popular
musical.” To buy Les Misérables from Amazon,
Norman MacAfee has translated (with Luciano Martinengo) the
only edition of the major poems of the Italian filmmaker and poet
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975). Though better known as a master
filmmaker, Pasolini was an important writer, called by the
American Book Review one of the three great poets of the
twentieth century. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poems is published by
Farrar, Straus & Giroux. See reviews for
Pasolini: Poems and
buy the book.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Simone de Beauvoir
(1908-1986) are two of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.
Norman MacAfee and Lee Fahnestock have translated the only English
edition of Sartre’s letters, edited by Simone de Beauvoir, in two
Witness to My Lifeand
Quiet Moments in a War, published by Scribner in New York
and Penguin in England. Click on the titles if you wish to buy the
book. MacAfee’s screenplay, Life Begins Tomorrow, is based on
events in the letters.
MacAfee’s poems and other writings have appeared in over 30
Click here for a list of his publications.
curriculum vitae for a list of future projects, including
Life Begins Tomorrow, and The Ballad of Malcolm Macfie.
“I think The Death of the Forest, Norman MacAfee’s visionary opera to the
music of Charles Ives, can become an American cultural treasure produced by
opera companies the world over.”—Donald T. Sanders, executive
artistic director, Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA
“Norman MacAfee is a new presence, a new
energy in American writing”—James Purdy
on A New Requiem
“A badly needed corrective offering
compassion, understanding, and optimism and providing an alternative way of
dealing with the pessimism and despair fed to us daily by the present
administration.”—Vine Deloria, Jr., aboutThe Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now
“A challenging work of great originality.
Not since John Dos Passos’USA
trilogy has a writer made such effective use of fugal techniques,
interweaving what appear to be historically disparate themes into new
coherence.”—Robert Giroux (on the novel ”Tolerance”)
“Wonderful. Echt Zen.”—Guy Davenport
on “The Song of the Earth”
“One could listen forever, A New Requiem
is so lovely.”—The
“A New Requiem
is real poetry, much of it quite singable.”—Ned Rorem
“Beautiful rhythms, important words and
things to be said... to be read and read.”—William Allen
on A New Requiem
“It’s all quite wonderful. I like the
expressiveness of the language and the encouraging freedom from poetic
phrasing and tired grammar.”—Guy Davenport
on A New Requiem
“These are real love letters.... They live
on in one’s mind.”—Stephen Spender
in The Mail on Sunday (on Witness to My Life)
“The publication of a volume of
translations by Norman MacAfee of Pasolini’s best poems reminds us what an
extraordinary man he was... Of his copious writings, his poems seem most
likely to endure... translated now with clarity,ingenuity, and fidelity by
Norman MacAfee.”—Edmund White, New York Times Book Review
“...indisputably the most remarkable figure
to have emerged in Italian arts and letters since the Second World War.”—Susan
Sontag (on Pasolini Poems)
“MacAfee has done his work with both
responsibility and brilliance.”—William Arrowsmith
(on Pasolini Poems)
“Some of the most exhilarating days in
American life occurred between March 16, 1968, when Robert Kennedy announced
his presidential campaign and June 4, 1968, when he was assassinated. Both
the hopes and fears of those 81 days are captured in this exhilarating book.
Kennedy’s anger over hunger, his passion against the war in Vietnam and his
faith in black Americans are recorded in 23 unforgettable chapters. Those
who read this inspiring volume will acquire a deeper admiration and
gratitude for Bobby Kennedy than they ever had before.”—Robert F.
Drinan, S.J., Professor, Georgetown
University Law Center, about The Gospel
According to RFK: Why It Matters Now
Norman MacAfee spoke and read a new poem at
the 80th birthday celebration for Robert Kennedy, at the
November 16, 2005. Other speakers included Senators Ted Kennedy, John
Kerry, Hillary Clinton. The event was videotaped and is available from
C-Span. The poem ”For Robert Kennedy’s 80th Birthday
Celebration” appears in
“The Coming of Fascism to America” and
”Life During the Coup,”
two long poems, in
The entire issue of Omega is titled
“Life During the Coup,” inspired by the poem.The poem was published in Cost of Freedom anthology,
Howling Dog Press, 2007.
publication in English of “Victory,” the last great poem by Pier Paolo
Pasolini, translated by MacAfee, in
Direlandon the 30th anniversary, 2005, of
Pasolini’s assassination on November 2, 1975.
The Death of the Forest, opera by Norman MacAfee to Music of Charles Ives, Amsterdam,
Blankert, 2004. The Death of the Forest is in development with
the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA, and sponsored
by The New York Foundation for the Arts. First readings of The Death
of the Forest in Massachusetts and Manhattan. Being offered to
opera companies in 2008.
Life Begins Tomorrow, play/screenplay
about Jean-Paul Sartre during World War II, to be given readings by the
Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA.
Conversation with Norman MacAfee:
Hour-long television interview by Harold Channer about MacAfee’s books
and performance works, NYC, July 2004.
“The Greatest Movie Ever Made,” poem in PEN America,
“This Is War,”
long poem, originally published in The World magazine and
Am Here Press anthology 1992,
republished in Eidia’s Blurb
on-line magazine, 2003.
More than 800,000 copies sold so far of
MacAfee/Lee Fahnestock translation of Victor Hugo’s
(Signet, 1987)—the first complete modern version,
generally considered the best translation, of the classic 19th-century
novel, and the official tie-in edition of what has been called ”the
world’s most popular musical.”
(poem) and ”Bowery Rembrandt”
(memoir), Hanging Loose magazine, 1999.
by Claude Cahun, translation of
legendary surrealist manuscript for Inverted Odysseys,
Shelley Rice, ed.(MIT Press,
Fall 1999). Staged reading of ”Heroines,” Maison Française, NYU.
Penguin publishes U.K.
paperbacks of award-winning MacAfee/Fahnestock translation of
Witness to My Lifeand
Quiet Moments in a War—two
volumes of letters of Jean-Paul
Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir (NY:
Scribner; London: Hamish Hamilton, 1993, 1994). Witness to My Life
named a New York Times Notable
Book of the Year. Distinguished Translation Award of American Literary
Translators Association for Quiet Moments in a War.
The New York Foundation for the Arts sponsors the completion and
production of The Death of the Forest and Life Begins
Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York: Noonday
1996) reissues MacAfee’s award-winning translation of Italian master
filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’sPoems
(originally published in 1982 by Random House and in London by John
Calder, 1984), selected and translated with Luciano Martinengo—the only
English-language translation of the major poems of ”one of the three
great poets of the [20th] century” (American Book Review,
Futura,” section of novel ”Tolerance” in Mandorla (Mexico City/NYC 1995) magazine.
MacAfee’s drawings for a production of
Helen Adam’s ballad operaSan Francisco’s Burning
published in Hanging Loose
magazine (six drawings inside; one each on front and back covers, 1994).
Libre,” section of novel ”Tolerance”in Rouge magazine
Organizer/reader:“Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes
of a Poet, a Reading of His Poetry,”
with Isabella Rossellini, Judith Malina, Hanon Reznikov,
Jennifer Beals, Laura Betti, Tomas Milian, William Allen.
Museum of Modern Art, NY.“The Gun in the
Poem,” MacAfee essay in Museum
of Modern Art Quarterly, 1990.
Text editor (uncredited) for newly discovered
manuscripts of Ezra Pound’s
translation of Sophocles’ Elektra.
Published by New Directions, NY, 1990.
Screenplay “Pasolini: A Documentary,”
written for New York Center for Visual History, 1991.
National Endowment for the Arts
Fellowship (under Lee Leggett Fahnestock, shared equally with NM) for
Sartre’s Quiet Moments in a War. Wheatland Foundation
grant awarded to Quiet Moments. TwoFlorence Gould Foundation/New York
Foundation for the Arts grants for the Sartre volumes,1992.
Sex, Death, Political Passion,”course at the New School,
Lives: Sartre and Beauvoir,” speech at New School, 1993.
Publication of chapbook of long poem A
Cheap Review Press, 1988.
Featured long poems,
“Italy ‘76” and
“Pictures from Bosch,”The Little Magazine,
Editor, Sartre: A Life,
by Annie Cohen-Solal (New York: Pantheon 1987).
Assistant director, Gluck’s Orfeo ed
Ensemble of New York, 1986.
Studies in directing at HB Studios,
Featured poet, “Words-Music-Words,” concert
of new songs set to new poetry, Poetry Project, Saint Mark’s in the
Bouwery, NY; and BargeMusic, Brooklyn, NY, 1985.
Director, Political Poetry Workshop,Saint Mark’s in the Bouwerie Poetry Project,
Arthur Maisel composes chamber opera on
MacAfee poem ”John Paul II’s Mayday 1984 Address to New York Gay and
Lesbian Socialists League at Cooper Union’s Great Hall”
for Pierrot Lunaire ensemble, 1984.
Performance of sections of NM screenplay Astro Place,
ABC No Rio, NY, 1984.
Assistant director/dramaturg: Creation
Company (SoHo, NY), 1984.
Ballet libretto, “The Re-Creation of the New
World,” published in Salome
Reading of first notes for The Death of the
Forest and Tolerance,
Yorkville Library, NY (1983).
Performance of MacAfee series “Love Song to the Soviet
Union,” No Sé No Café, Saint
Mark’s in the Bouwerie Church Poetry Project, NY, 1983.
PEN American Center’s 1st annual
Renato Poggioli Award to MacAfee
for Pasolini poems, 1980.
“Pasolini: 5 Years After,” Yale
University symposium with Umberto Eco, Alberto Moravia,
William Weaver, 1980.
Columbia University Translation Center Grant
Poetry and fiction readings at New York’s
Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, Museum of Modern Art, St. Marks
Poetry Project, No Sé No Café,
Cooper Union, ABC No Rio, New York Public Libraries, Columbia, Yale, and
Temple Universities, and through
the British Film Institute
at London’s National Film Theatre, Norwich (UK) Cinema City...
Freelance editorial work for Praeger,
Knopf, Grove, Harcourt, Pantheon, New Directions, Counterpoint, Westview,
Basic Books, Da Capo, PublicAffairs, Shoemaker & Hoard.
Publication of writings and drawings in over 30
Travel in England, Italy, Mexico, France,
Scotland, Canada, USA.
Creative writing degrees from the University of
Pennsylvania (BA, honors in the major) and the University of Iowa
(Master of Fine Arts in English).
OTHER WORKS COMPLETED
text with drawings: performance piece for actors, dancers, singers, and
instrumental ensemble, using a scene from King Lear and an
aria from Claudio Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo.
novel intercutting six stories.
The Song of the Earth,
nine poem-drawings about life in China from 500 BCE to 2000 AD, and
twenty pages of poetry and commentary; small book.
The Re-Creation Of The New World,
script with drawings; to piano work, Vingt Regards Sur L’enfant Jésus,
by Olivier Messiaen.
WORKS IN PROGRESS
The Ballad of Malcolm Macfie,
book about the last medieval chieftain of the MacAfee clan, assassinated
in 1623 on Colonsay island in the Inner Hebrides, and the clan’s
Whistling Corner, nonfiction novel of my first eleven
years in Brookline, Pa, 1943-1954.
The Best Memory,
nonfiction: sex and death, culture and politics in New York, London,
Italy in the 1970s.
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel
According to Saint Matthew:
A Reading. A shot-by-shot explication of what has been called
”the greatest movie ever made.”
nonfiction novel about photographer Nancy Miller Elliott.
When I Was Rich: Stories.
Afghanistan and the Effects of War on Men,
By Alice MacAfee; nonfiction
novel; a reconstruction of my late sister’s life, 1939-1987, in her
Operas about Joan of Arc, Charlemagne,
Tamburlaine, and Ashurbanipal.
Man at The Crossroads,
opera about the murals of Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
PLANS FOR DIRECTING THEATER, OPERA, AND FILM
San Francisco’s Burning,
ballad opera by Scots poet Helen Adam (1909-1993). I have made drawings
for a production published in Hanging Loose magazine.
Libretto published by Hanging Loose Press.
Two operas written by the poet Ezra Pound:
Le Testament (Villon) and Cavalcanti.
A music-theatre-poetry piece about Pound.
Filmscript (by Samuel Hughes) about three
poets in Philadelphia 1905, Ezra Pound,William Carlos Williams and HD.
Gloucester’s Eyes, The Song of the Earth, The
Re-Creation Of The New World, The Death of the Forest, Life Begins
Tomorrow, The Gospel According to RFK.