Franco Beltrametti’s grande uccello

This is the 1st of 3 posts about a Swiss-Italian artist’s interest in the California condor during the 1960s and 1970s.

Franco Beltrametti’s artistic accomplishments include graphics, poetry, prose, and translations. Moreover, as highlighted in his obituary in the British newspaper Independent (4 September 1995), Beltrametti’s life was about building connections among artists and others. He had his fingers in American beat poetry, jazz music, radical Italian politics, Zen Buddhism, and more.

In 1970, Beltrametti published a small collection of his poetry titled Uno di Quella Gente Condor (Geiger). The collection’s title was a line from a poem in that collection: “Un Uccello? Un Aquila?”.

One of Those Condor People, an English translation of the collection, was published in 1974 by Blackberry:

Beltrametti 1974 - cover

The cover art is credited to “Nebraska Bill” Crosby.

Here’s the poem in question:

Beltrametti 1974 - text

As will be noted in a future post, Beltrametti was aware of the relationships between Native Americans and the California condor. For some Native Americans, condors were and are people.

The preface of the English translation indicates that the collected poems came from notebooks kept while Beltrametti was in Siberia, Japan, California, and Italy during 1965-1969.

By chance, I recently happened across a t-shirt for sale that read:

Yes, I am one of those condor people

I do not know if the t-shirt’s text was taken from Beltrametti or if it is just one of those coincidences.