A Modern Bestiary – – Ars Poetastrica

By Alessandro Gallenzi

Translated by J.G. Nichols

ISBN: 9781843917779

RRP: £7.19

A collection of sixteen sonnets about humans who are transformed into beasts (both real and imaginary), and vice versa, A Modern Bestiary is a new interpretation of the old bestiary tradition, which has fascinated generations of readers and writers alike, from the Middle Ages through to the Modern Age.

A fierce invective against modern poetasters and bad poetry in general, Ars Poetastrica does not pretend to be a collection of precepts on good writing but rather an impassioned exhortation towards a new Humanism in poetry.




  • Gallenzi … turns out to be a lively, witty poet with an essential seriousness of purpose.


  • My one and only criticism is that it is too damned short.

    Gilbert Adair

  • Gallenzi’s allegorical animals spark some robust epigrams. The translations are very good … the rhymes are often excellent … and puns are well conveyed across the language barrier, which has seldom seemed more porous than in this book. In the long poem too, old chestnuts are nicely grilled if not quite roasted … How odd to be reminded of Edward Said, but impressive too: a skilled and charming exercise turns out to chime with the Zeitgeist, not antiquarian at all.

    PN Review

  • Read about the Earthworm, the Dog, the Asshawk and the rest, and you will recognise people you know, writers you know, even yourself maybe.

    The Journal

  • Very fine poems, rather lovely edition. Good drawings too, and a nimble translation.

    George Szirtes

  • Gallenzi … turns out to be a lively, witty poet with an essential seriousness of purpose.


Alessandro Gallenzi

Alessandro Gallenzi is the founder of Alma Books and the successor of John Calder at the helm of Calder Publications. As well as being a literary publisher with twenty years of experience, he is a prize-winning translator, a poet, a playwright and a novelist. He edited John Keats’s Complete Poems for Alma in 2019 and he has recently published a translation of Keats’s Letters (La valle dell’anima) with Adelphi.