The campidanese poetic contest

In Campidano, the highest form of extemporary poetry is the cantada campidanesa. The usual setting of this contest as for the Logudorese one, is the patron saint day or other celebrations for the saints venerated in towns and countryside, usually over the summer.

The poets perform on a stage set in the churchyard or in his proximity. The Campidanese contest has its origins in pre-exsisting poetic practices too, widely spread amongst the people, but the structure used today was created between the two wars, when the poet Pasqualino Loddo, from Monserrato, wrote the canon known as regula. From there it spread in Campidano of Cagliari, Sulcis Iglesiente, Gerrei, Parteolla, Marmilla, parts of Sarrabus and towns of great tradition like Quartu Sant'Elena, Sinnai, Burcei.

Once capable of fill up squares, in the last decades the cantada campidanesa, being complex and slow in its progression, has known a decline in the audience at the events, even though some fans and experts still travel from town to town to attend the performances. In these groups people gather periodically to perform in amateur contests, sometime joined by poets. The professionals are very important for these contests, they have to interpret the meaning of the topics expressed in metaphors, judge the finesse of the arguments and the quality of the poetry.

The contest

Far more complex than the Logudorese contest, sa cantada campidanesa see four poets face each others on stage, improvising verses in the poetical-musical forms of su mutetu longu (or mutetu a ottu peis) and de su versu. For this reason the contest, that lasts about three hours consists of two parts: sa mutteddada, accompanied by a couple of guttural voices (bausciu and contra, or simply sa contra) and sa versada, this one accompanied by a guitar.

The mutetu longu is particularly complex in its performance, both for the metric of the verses and the complicated rules of the contest, so it's usually restricted to the most skilled between the professional poets.

In summary, we're talking about the candada a fini serrau, a contest in which the topic, su fini, is known only by one of the poets called fundadori, "the founder," who starts the contest singing his verses and trying to hide it in metaphors. The other Poets have to find out what topic su fundadori have hidden in his metaphors (poetry, religion, history etc.), exchanging with him verses that have to be pertinent to the context. All this is performed under rigid poetic rules and codes of conduct.