Francesco Levato – Founder and Director

Poet, translator, and filmmaker Francesco Levato is the author of four books of poetry: Endless, Beautiful, Exact; Elegy for Dead Languages; War Rug, a book length documentary poem; and Marginal State. He has translated into English the works of Italian poets Tiziano Fratus, Creaturing, and Fabiano Alborghetti, The Opposite Shore. His work has been published internationally in journals and anthologies, both in print and online. He has collaborated and performed with various composers, including Philip Glass, and his cinépoetry has been exhibited in galleries and featured at film festivals in Berlin, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. He is the founder and director of the Chicago School of Poetics, holds an MFA in poetry from New England College, and is pursuing a PhD in English Studies at Illinois State University.

Poetics Statement

My work explores the interstices between visual and textual language with a critical eye on their roles in our culture. It is deeply informed by cinematic, poetic, and documentary practice and engages subject matter through disruption of content and form, fragmentation of narrative, and radical juxtaposition of visual and textual elements. Through appropriation of archival source material like film footage, audio recordings, and written texts I investigate language as a cultural artifact, question the intent in its formulation and use, and through techniques of disruption and juxtaposition seek to subvert the source material’s intended interpretation.


“Francesco Levato’s powerful documentary, War Rug—like Eliot Weinberger’s What I heard about Iraq before it—detains the language of the perpetrators of global military aggression and redeploys it to indict them. From J.C. Penny catalog copy to counterintelligence manuals and autopsy reports, War Rug is a fierce yet unfortunate reminder of the absolute horrors of our age.”

—Mark Nowak, author of Coal Mountain Elementary about War Rug